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On November 13th, the EFAO will be hosting our Annual General Meeting. The keynote speaker for the event is Nancy Matheson from Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO). AERO is a grassroots organization whose members are working together to improve the quality of their lives, communities and the environment. A Montana-based nonprofit membership organization, AERO serves the needs of people seeking the use of renewable energy and conservation, sustainable agriculture and greater community self-reliance.
AERO was founded during the energy crisis of the 1970's to promote, at the community level, alternatives to our dependence on non-renewable energy sources. In the early 1980's, AERO recognized how the region's farmers and ranchers were becoming more and more dependent on resource inputs that can threaten topsoil and water quality. AERO began providing the means for farmers and ranchers to learn and develop more sustainable ways to work the land. AERO continues to help farmers reduce their dependence on costly chemical inputs, increase their economic stability through crop and product diversity, and protect the soil and other natural resources. (AERO, 1992).
Most of AERO's membership and activities are concentrated in Montana. Through its sustainable agriculture project, AERO now functions as a regional resource for the Northern Rockies/Plains, Saskatchewan and the Western Dakotas. AERO serves as a local source for written information on sustainable agriculture and marketing issues; and conducts conferences and organic farm tours as well as on-farm agricultural research.
Why has the EFAO chosen a representative from AERO to come and speak at our AGM? Due to the geographic distribution of the EFAO, many members find it difficult to travel long distances for tours, conferences and meeting. In responding to membership needs, the Ecological Farmers Association has undertaken the task of developing localized networks throughout Ontario. There are some enthusiastic groups that have already began their own kitchen meetings, and the EFAO Directors feel that a networking system among the various kitchen groups will further enhance the information base already available to farmers thus motivating and inspiring farmers to educate themselves about a holistic approach to farming..
Give its similar aims, AERO's experience in developing local organizational networks across the Western and Midwestern U.S.A. and some parts of Western Canada will be a valuable contribution to achieving our networking goal. Once established, the networking system will have small "groups" formed throughout Ontario. These groups would be able to organize their own tours and workshops with the help of the EFAO Directors where necessary thus reducing travel distances. Eventually, the networking will be an opportunity for groups to undertake the task of hosting the Annual General Meeting therefore moving the meeting every year to allow the entire membership to benefit. Although the role of the Board of Directors in this new initiative is not fully understood, the B of D will continue to serve the needs of the organization in a leadership capacity.
This system requires participation and commitment from a lot of people however, the benefits will easily outweigh the challenges of its establishment. If any one is interested in becoming a group leader for their area, already has a small group established or if you are interested in finding more information about networking, please contact Ted Zettel or Phil Beard.
We encourage you to attend the 1993 Annual General Meeting, held at the Grey Public School in Ethel on November 13th. If you have any questions regarding the AGM, do not hesitate to contact Ruth Knight(367-5531) or Phil Beard at the MVCA (335-3557). The meeting promises to be a very informative event, so bring the family and come out to support a future EFAO initiative.
Copyright © 1993 Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
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