May 6, Chuck Baldwin presented AgrAbility and staffed a booth at the Black Loam Conference held in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Approximately 20 people attended the conference. The focus of the conference was to introduce primarily BIPOC and socially disadvantaged farmers, mostly urban farmers, to the resources available to them through agencies and programs of the USDA.
Ed Sheldon, Indiana and NAP Extension outreach coordinator, represented Indiana AgrAbility at the May 20, 2023, Indiana Black Loam Conference held at the historic Madame CJ Walker Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ed joined other ag service agencies in a panel discussion and highlighted AgrAbility's services to underserved and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. He also distributed AgrAbility resources and visited with conference participants, including farmers and agricultural leaders from around Indiana, as they browsed the exhibit area.
Indiana Black Loam Conference programs have been held in urban centers throughout Indiana during spring 2023: Evansville, Fort Wayne, Gary, Bloomington, and Indianapolis. These workshops are specifically targeted toward BIPOC and socially disadvantaged farmers, with most participants being from urban areas. The programs are hosted by the Legacy Farming and Health Group based in Lyles Station, Indiana, and the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative, a collaboration of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, Soil & Water Conservation Districts, and Purdue University.
The semiannual Indiana AgrAbility advisory team meeting was held Wednesday, May 24, from 10:30 - 2:30 at the FFA Leadership Center in Trafalgar, Indiana. Twenty-seven people attended. Alexandria Ward from Farm Aid was there as a guest and spoke with the team for the first 30 minutes until she had to leave to catch a flight out of Indianapolis. Five new or potential advisory team members were introduced to the group including representatives of VR, IN Dept. of Veterans Affairs, East Coast Migrant Head Start, Farm Credit Mid-America, and Purdue Extension working with 4-H.
Among the business items discussed was a question on how staff could make the AgrAbility display at the State Fair more interesting to attract more people and, correspondingly, how staff could make working the AgrAbility exhibit easier for volunteers.
Submitted by Ed Sheldon and Chuck Baldwin