Tuesday, May 7, 2013

National Fruit conference coming to Asheville, NC Aug 8-11

Nafex meeting in Asheville, NC August 8th-11, 2013 Registration (includes food)- 60.00

This year’s theme- “Honoring our elders” or rather… Wanting to know what the old farts have to say for themselves”
 
“From the vast chaos of comingling species, forms have been created and segregated which will produce great and unexpected changes in fruit and flower culture.”
                                              -Luther Burbank- New Creations in Fruits and Flowers 1893

What Luther Burbank found true and one of the secrets to his enormous success I find still holds true whether we are talking about varieties of fruit or folks. I accepted the role as coordinator of the Nafex meeting this year not only for the fame and fortune I expect to succeed it, but because I was given the license to introduce a little “chaos” to the meeting. It is my passion to help revitalize Nafex by introducing some hybrid vigor by attracting new and younger members. This is a call out for support from you elders to be open minded in this endeavor and hope that something of my intentions will stir ancient callings in your heart that will implore to you the imperativeness of this offer.

I have been to several Nafex and NNGA meetings and what I took from those encounters was a surge of not only more confidence in managing my fruit and nut trees, but new ideas, and most important new friends. These benefits I received from meetings didn’t happen in the auditorium dozing off at power point presentations, or in a bus to look at some University demonstrational farm. No sir, they came from the hallway doughnut exchange. So here in Asheville, the Buncombe Fruit Nut Club has volunteered to organize this year’s meeting. The educational format will be simple with 1.5 hour time slots spent in the hallway hanging out eating doughnuts. Then we break for 15 minutes to the auditorium where we can catch a cat nap to some academic’s powerpoint presentation. Then back out to the hallway to do what we traveled so far to do- share and talk about what we love with amateurs like ourselves and hear what the old farts have to say for themselves.

Though that is part joke and part seriousness, that is the format and spirit with which we would like to direct. This meeting will be more like an old camp revival with lots of opportunity for people to sit in smaller circles and share ideas and build connections hopefully with a good mix of elders and youngsters distributed throughout each- the best of the old mixed with the best of the new. There will not be any prearranged talks by “experts” and we will not be spending money on buses to go somewhere. (As a matter of fact I would rather we take our bus and tour money and put it towards saving the Nafex Library!) Most of your registration fee will go towards the excellence of the food provided. We take food seriously in Asheville and the food at this meeting, I assure you, will be of the first rate kind procured from local farmers. We hope that eating together home style will further optimize the cultivation of relationships at this event. The educational program, which will be a full two days, and the heart of the meeting will be set up the first morning with something called “open space”. This model of democratic self governance brings together a group of people, and in an amazingly short amount of time, creates a structure of break out groups where a variety of ideas can best be shared. It has work very well for our Permaculture conferences for the last 20 years with over 120 attendees.

Open Space and how it works- First off, everyone is welcome and encouraged to contribute. All the people who would like to present, share an overview of their topic in front of the entire group in less than a minute. After all the ideas have been submitted we see which ones can be combined. Then people vote on which ones they want to participate in. Ones that aren’t popular either melt into another topic or are removed. The schedule is set and then we break into our “hallway groups” changing every 1.5 hours. We have tentatively made Saturday afternoon full group panel discussions with panelists and topics to be determined by Saturday morning. One nice thing about the flexibility of the smaller groups of open space is if you have presented in the past you can bring back that subject and people who have already heard it can go somewhere else or you can find a related group and add your special forte to it.

The theme this year will be “Honoring the elders”. It has been my impression that the experienced based amateurs that make up the heart and soul of Nafex don’t understand how important and relative their work is. Yes, unbenounced to my fellow Nafex colleagues is a swelling demographic of young, motivated, intelligent, health conscious people looking to grow fruit for the love of it, Permaculture, food security, economic benefit, redevelopment of the commons and community building through shared gardens, etc... You, members of Nafex, who have been exploring those regions of marginal fruits for decades, hold the experience that this upswelling movement is now taking an interest in… would so benefit from… and ideally carry forth in the work. The objective of this “Honoring of the Elders” is to hybridize these young, experience-starved folks with you, the older, experienced members of Nafex. It’s not a guarantee, but hopefully these young folks will experience forthright the relevancy of having access to the club and its base of knowledge and themselves become members. It’s called succession. It’s what trees do. The old, fallen, nurse tree with the young sapling drawing off the nutrients is the pattern we are trying to replicate.

To register for this event go to Nafex.org or direct link is http://www.nafex.org/2013NAFEX_meeting_reg.pdf 

Nuts and bolts-

Asheville is a small city we like to call the “Paris of the south”. It is an enormous tourist draw due to its location in the mountains of Western North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs right through town and 5000’ mountain wilderness is a mere 40 minute scenic drive away. At 2300’ Asheville’s climate tends to be more moderate in the summer than the low lands. Because of this, Corneleous Vanderbuilt built his chateau here and the Biltmore Estate is still the largest private residential house in America open for tours along with its extensive gardens. While building this house he attracted a multitude of artists and many settled here creating a huge artist colony that has surged in the last 20 years. This, in turn, has attracted restaurants, theatres, music venues and last year we were voted #1 beer town in America for our plethora of microbreweries. Asheville/Hendersonville airport serves this area being 20 minutes away from downtown Asheville. Greenville, SC has a larger international airport about 75 minutes away.

We hope you can make it,
Bill Whipple- Buncombe Fruit Nut Club
whipplebill@hotmail.com

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