Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sharing our rural culture

CRC brings the world to Goochland

The world got a little smaller on June 22 when the Center for Rural Culture played host to six Nuffield Scholars. The scholars, four from Australia, and one each from Ireland and Great Britain visited Goochland after stops in China and the Philippines.

Though visiting agricultural operations in the United States, as part of their travels, the Nuffield program asked to return to Goochland because previous of successful previous visits. The CRC is the only non-governmental sponsor to host Nuffield Scholars this year.

“We were honored to host the Nuffield Scholars,” said Kate Sarfaty CRC president. “Their interest in Goochland indicates the caliber and variety of our local farms, which form the backbone of our rural culture.”

Sponsoring the visit of the Nuffield Scholars to local farms is one way that the CRC works to forge links, both local and international, among those who feed the world.

Funded by a foundation created in 1947 by William Morris Lord Nuffield to recognize the contribution made by farmers who kept the Commonwealth fed during World War II, the scholarships are open to agriculturalists from member countries of the British Commonwealth.

Goochland’s visitors came from England, Australia and Northern Ireland. They visited a variety of operations including Rassawek Farm and the Klinefelter vineyard/winery; Lower Byrd Farm where owner Debra Stoneman treated the group to a wonderfully prepared lunch of local vegetables and free range chicken; Kelona Farm in Powhatan hosted by David and Nancy Moyer and their son Vernon and ended the day at with a cookout at Sandy and Rossie Fisher’s Brookview Farm, which produces grass fed organic beef.

The scholars from Australia, Andrew Dewar ,Aaron Sanderson, Michael Inwood and Paul Lambert are actively engaged in farming including production of vegetables, milk, grain and sheep for fiber and meat. They want to increase their knowledge of agriculture and learn about different ways to maximize use of water; preserve and sustain soil health and environmentally responsible methods of dealing with universal problems such as large quantities of manure.

Amii Cahill and Zoe Davies, from Northern Ireland and England respectively, are spokespeople for agricultural interests. Davies’ focus is on the pork industry and she was disappointed that the Goochland visit did not include any American pigs.

Speaking a common language, love of the land and farming, the visitors and locals freely swapped ideas, best practices and good cheer. The share a common goal of feeding the world while ensuring that the land remains productive. They also expressed dismay at increasing governmental regulations that hinder rather than encourage innovation.

Chatting over a potluck dinner and cookout of delicious Brookview Farm beef burgers, the scholars said that Australian cookouts, including watermelon, were pretty much the same.

As dusk fell, the Australians, no doubt used to creatures that we would find exotic, were captivated by our fireflies. We hope that they will take home good memories and useful information from their day in Goochland.

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