Tonight is the last night of a whirlwind book tour that I took with Carol Peppe Hewitt.
We blew into Louisville, Kentucky and did a presentation at the University of Louisville that was arranged by grassroots biodiesel enthusiast Christian Thalacker, and Carrie VanWinkle of Slow Money KY.
Carol and her new book, Financing our FoodShed; Growing Local Food with Slow Money, draw a crowd wherever she goes, and we had a full house. It was a fascinating blend of energy folks and local foodies—but we pulled it off. I was delighted to see Christopher from Kelly Green Biofuel in the crowd, along with native Kentuckian, Link Schumacher. It was nice having a Piedmonter in the crowd.
It broke up at 11:00 and they ended it with a shot of local artisanal bourbon. It was a toast to Slow Money KY. I don’t normally drink bourbon. And 11:00 a.m. is a little early for whiskey in my book. But one of the guys there was a Baptist minister turned investment advisor, and I could not resist doing a shot with a Baptist preacher.
I got a brief tour of the stills at Moonshine University from Martin Snyder. The place was spotless. They have converted an old auto mechanic’s shop into a working classroom facility for spirituous alcohols. It was remarkable.
One of the salient points of the meeting is that if you pool money between omnivores and vegans, consensus is a rotten decision making strategy.
On our way out of town we stopped by Kelly Green Biofuel for a brief tour. They raise bison, among other things, and had the sweetest chicken tractors I have ever seen. In the bison world a dominant bull needs to be surrounded by submissive males for maximum productivity. Occasionally a submissive male with take a run at the top spot in the herd. In the wild the loser wanders off to die alone by starvation. In captivity the loser mopes about on the other side of the fence until slaughter.
We pushed on to Columbus for a Slow Money event at North Market that ended at a local brewpub. Next day we tabled at the Clintonville Farmer’s Market, broke camp and headed to Cincinnati.
My new book, Small Stories, Big Changes; Agents of Change on the Frontlines of Sustainability sells well in Ohio in part because it has a foreword by David Orr. He’s the legendary Oberlin professor and sustainability thinker that casts a long shadow over these parts.
In Cincinnati we went to a fundraiser put on by the folks at Edible Ohio Valley, then gave talks at the Ohio Valley Green Market, then held a Slow Money discussion at the Peter Loon mansion.
There I fell in love with the folks from Shagbark Seed and Mill out of Athens, Ohio. They put up a seed cleaner, and are making corn chips from organic heritage varieties. As a sucker for processing facilities, with a former oilseed crusher sales business under my belt, I could geek out with them for hours. I would love to lend them money to finance their rapid growth, but it would break my local investment rule. Tomorrow we head to Mt. Airy to look at a sheep operation, and the hatchback is filled with a big box of corn chips.
I once traded a book for two squirrels that were cleaned, dressed, and frozen. I thought it was one of my better deals, but it didn’t impress my children. I’m guessing that if I took a risk on corn chips they might pay attention.
It’s been a marvelous four day blur, filled with tours and talks and markets and charettes, the whole time selling books and being surrounded by like-minded individuals.
I have to hand it to Carol for taking care of so many logistics on this trip. She’s an organizational genius, and I have no doubt that a string of loans, capital placements, investment clubs, and other strategies will be springing up in her wake.
The next book event is at the Fearrington next Sunday at 2:00. That’s going to be a fun one, since I will be joined by Gary Phillips and Anne Tazewell and Blair Pollock and Elaine Chiosso. I think Tim Toben is also going to join us–so it will be a bunch of authors.
I think I need to be careful here. I could get used to this…