Darlington "Chongo" Mundende, Associate Professor, Langston University (OK)
This year, I missed attending the Annual SSAWG Conference in Little Rock, AR, and am still recovering from the nonparticipating blues. Since I first attended the conference in New Orleans, I have always looked forward to this conference. Frankly, I was just as excited about going to the conference as I was about visiting the “Big Easy” for the first time, but when the meetings started, I got hooked to the concept, people, and program. This was a different kind of meeting: producers talked to producers about what had worked or failed on their farms and ranches. They talked about what was good for the environment and a sustainable future. I determined to bring producers every year so that they too could learn about their opportunities. Langston University has fulfilled that desire until this year.
I do not remember specifics that first time around, but I definitely remember the “Taste of Louisiana.” I believe the total attendance was 450. In 2012, there were over 1,000 participants.
I like the SSAWG conference because it is a source of ideas for limited resource producers. It is a source of inspiration and courage, showing producers what is possible. Its emphasis on building sustainable communities for us and our posterities cannot be surpassed by any other value. It shows that small producers can live better lives and dictate the prices for their produce. As iron sharpens iron, SSAWG producers sharpen other producers and together they continue to make this a better world.