Annual Meeting, ROSE: 9 June 2012, Sunnivue Farm: Can the ROSE Land Care Association, which holds and protects Sunnivue Farm, survive in its current form?
Sally opened the meeting by welcoming the twenty attendees and the speaker, Melanie Doerksen of Slow Food London. She pointed out that ROSE is now 20 years old, practically to the day, and hopes to celebrate its 21st birthday next June with a party.
What was the world like 20 years ago when ROSE got underway? The war in the former Yugoslavia was heating up, Bill Clinton was not yet elected President of the United States, who was Prime Minister of Canada? (People suggested that it was Jean Chretien but in fact it was still Brian Mulroney.) It is difficult now to remember how it felt to live in the world 20 years ago, before September 11, before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, at a time when there was already a great deal of awareness about the need for protecting our environment and our food, and when there was perhaps a greater sense of hope about our ability to do so. It was in that context that ROSE was founded; how has it weathered the two decades that have passed since then?
As to its current state, so far the organization is managing to meet its annual financial commitments, including taxes, insurance, and some maintenance at the farm property, but revenues are decreasing and there is still a need for steady donations. In addition, further funds will be needed if a more ambitious building project on the farm is undertaken.
And indeed there is a desire within ROSE to do something more ambitious, perhaps to build a second house on the property or improve the other farm buildings or make more provision for student visitors. But we have been stymied in our deliberations about what to aim at, despite the many needs we see. We are in a time of transition, knowing that we need to protect agriculture – both our land and our food - more effectively, but needing a clearer vision of the direction we should take. It may be that the land trust as it currently exists is actually not the best vehicle for carrying out our aims, or for Sunnivue Farm; this is a possibility we also need to consider.
We have tried within our working group to be clearer about our purposes and our future direction. Many of us see two things that are necessary for this process to bear fruit. First, we need clear and unified leadership from the farmers about where the farm operation is going and what changes will be appropriate. Second, we need additional participation and leadership from new Board and working group members of the land trust, including some younger members who can bring youthful energy and a felt connection with the future. While in no position myself to be ageist, I have to admit that some of us are weary and long to share the work with younger colleagues and successors.
So those who appreciate the ideals held by Sunnivue Farm and by the ROSE land trust are asked to consider contributing to our efforts, and to bring us their skills in planning, in organizing, in administration, and in fundraising. This participation is what can ensure that the ideal we committed to 20 years ago fulfills its potential.