Today’s events were quite intriguing. We first visited the Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction managed by Mr. Jeff Heatwole. Mr. Heatwole acknowledged the leadership of Extension Agent Mr. Eric Bendfeldt who was influential in developing the auction so the local farmers could have a place to sell their produce at wholesale prices.
We then visited The White Oak Lavender Farm and Purple Wolf Vineyard. The tour was excellent and I saw firsthand of the efforts to integrate people into a system of agriculture. For example, the farm had a labyrinth, human-sized checker game board, relaxation spaces, and comfortable tabletop stands that could provide heat during cool or winter nights as guest sat around them. These nuiances are strong indicators of the mindset that it takes to make people successful.
Thirdly, we had our appreciative interviews. I interviewed Mr. Eric Holter who is now retired, but served as a purchasing manager and acting general manager of the Augusta and Culpeper cooperatives, respectively. The insight about people that he shared with me was that having the “…ability to focus the group on a common goal and achieve it…” was his top skill or ability. Mr. Holter further communicated that he has a strong belief in people, team-work, and collaboration. So, why the title, “I Saw People?” Some previously completed session tour-visits made clear distinctions between their agriculture system and the employees. Today, I saw an intentional effort to integrate people and allow the agriculture system to emerge through and from the people.
BTW, Mr. Holter skis the Black Diamond courses!