Okay, I admit, I haven’t posted anything in a few days.  However, we’re all still here and doing well.

As I sit here watching it get dark outside, it is hard to believe that week two has begun and we are already on the backside of this adventure.

Overall, things are going extremely well.  Last week’s workshop, and a personal visit to each attendee’s farm for some one-on-one time, has really gone a long way towards winning acceptance and trust.  The growers really seem to appreciate that we would come all the way down here to help them.  So much so that I hear they are throwing us a party prior to our departure this week.  My understanding is that this doesn’t happen very often.

One of the neatest things about our trip down here is that we have been able to witness and take part in extension at its best.  Last week’s workshop was amazing.  Once we presented the information, the participants initiated a round-table discussion.  My understanding is that it may have been the most civil discussion they have had in a while. In the end, they took what we gave them as a base and developed a survey to assess what their customers thought of their local farmers’ market.  Giving people the information, stepping back, and allowing them to make their own informed decisions – it works down here too!

As I mentioned before, we are visiting individual farms in an effort to get to know each grower.  The growers really seem to appreciate this.  My understanding is that many of their trainings in the past have consisted of an invited speaker blowing into town, delivering a short blast of information concerning what they should do, and departing.  Guess they didn’t realize that this time they were dealing with PURDUE EXTENSION.  We live to assist with implementation, to work one-on-one, to get personal, and to get our hands dirty!

 One interesting comment made at last week’s workshop involved the lack of extension in Costa Rica.  A participant lamented that one of the biggest problems they have is a lack of information.  While Tamara and the other CATIE people have done an amazing job in working with the growers, there still isn’t extension here as we know it.  The growers were very impressed that in Indiana there was an “extencionisto” in every county.  The gentleman’s comment got me to thinking.  Given the thirst for, and lack of, available information among the growers down here, what would Indiana look like, and how different would our agriculture be, if extension didn’t exist?  I really can’t answer that question, except to say that I shudder at the possibilities.

The weekend was good for all of us.  On Friday night we attended an arts festival in Turrialba.  We, and a couple thousand other people, showed up to listen to a salsa band and celebrate the history and art of the region that includes Turrialba and neighboring Sequirres.  Imagine our surprise when, as the show was about to begin, the President of Costa Rica stepped out on the stage for an unannounced appearance!  For me, the weekend was rounded out by a day spent at Tamara’s making cheese and chocolate and riding horses up and down the mountains.

Guess I better wrap this up and get some sleep.  We are doing workshops over the next two days.  Based on what we saw last week, I think we are all eagerly anticipating two more days of definite and obvious impact.  Should be fun!