This year I helped started a new book club for American Agri-Women a group of women from across the country in farming, ranching, forestry and agri-business.
Our website states: American Agri-Women is the nation’s largest coalition of farm, ranch and agribusiness women with over fifty state, commodity and agribusiness affiliate organizations throughout the country. It is an all-volunteer organization, working to advocate for agriculture since 1974.
My experience its that its more of a large sorority than a coalition. Every time I go to a national event I get encouraged, energized and jazzed up to keep talking about agriculture. I wanted to extend that feeling a little; combining my experience with social media and my love of books I came up with the idea for a book club.
Our inaugural book was The Try by Jim Owens, a 2012 convention speaker. We had a Facebook chat discussing the book on Jan 11th, 2013 at 6:00 pm PST. The goal is to have about one book every three months, for a total of four books a year.
What is it that separates the doers, leaders, and success stories among us from the dreamers, also-rans, and wannabes? To bestselling author James P. Owen, it’s all about having The Try— the quality of giving 110 percent to the task or challenge at hand.
The try was a great motivational book, and I would highly recommend it. The next book was a biography of one of my farm hero’s Norman Borlaug. Our Daily Bread, The Essential Norman Borlaug” is the selection for the next AAW book club book. We discussed Our Daily Bread, The Essential Norman Borlaug March 1st on our Facebook page.
Having received the Nobel Prize for Peace, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal, Norman Borlaug ranks beside Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa. But few people know his name. Our Daily Bread shows why Borlaug should also be a household name. It is the story of how one man saved billions from certain hunger. And it shows how we too got our daily bread.
The description of the book calls it the first “Cereal Thriller.” It’s a fast, easy and mind opening read. Not only is it about Norman Borlaug, but about the evolution of farming. Again a great book, and the author Noel Vietmeyer will be a speaker at the upcoming American Agri-Women Fly-In to Washington DC.
The book touched again and again on Norman’s passion to help bring simple farmers out of poverty and in turn help hungry nations feed themselves. That theme lead us to our current book The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change by Roger Thurow.
The book documents what can be done when an organization works with a profoundly poor group of subsistence farmers in Kenya, to educate them on new farming methods and help them get started, with small loans to buy seed and fertilizer.
Africa’s smallholder farmers, most of whom are women, know misery. They toil in a time warp, living and working essentially as their forebears did a century ago. With tired seeds, meager soil nutrition, primitive storage facilities, wretched roads, and no capital or credit, they harvest less than one-quarter the yields of Western farmers. The romantic ideal of African farmers––rural villagers in touch with nature, tending bucolic fields––is in reality a horror scene of malnourished children, backbreaking manual work, and profound hopelessness. Growing food is their driving preoccupation, and still they don’t have enough to feed their families throughout the year.
Join us for a discussion of the book Friday June 7th at 6pm (PST.) You don’t have to be part of our organization, or a woman, or even involved in Agriculture; everyone is invited to join. In fact you don’t even have to read the book since most of our discussion will about world hunger. The chat will be held on our Facebook page. It’s easy to participate, just login and go to www.facebook.com/AgriWomen. We’ll post numbered discussion questions to the page and the conversation will take place in the comments. We’ll let you know when there is a new question.