Most of you are know that the second NADA conference was held recently near Newport, Rhode Island. But I wanted to tell you a little more about our hosts, Don and Heather Minto. The Minto’s are two great friends, hard workers, dedicated Devon breeders and people who make things happen. And they really made our conference happen!

Don and Heather manage Watson Farm, which was established on an island just off Newport in the late 1700’s and is now in a public trust. The farm is a beautiful setting for the Minto’s large herd of Devon. You approach the island across a 200-foot high bridge over the bay with their green pastures just off to the right, welcoming you. Many times over the past 6 years, Ridge Shinn and I have marveled at the view on our way to Watson Farm to do embryo work. You have to believe that their city dwelling cousins enjoy seeing that view on their way to their jobs in Newport every day.

What they can’t know is how much knowledge and work has gone into providing them with that view, and only a few can connect what they see with the delicious Devon beef they buy every weekend at the farmer’s market on the mainland. But thanks to the unique structure of their farm, they do better than most of us in telling the story of healthy food from healthy land. Hopefully, the Minto’s will be a model for all of us in closing the gap between the farm and the consumer. What are you planning to do to tell our story in your community?

Don and Heather live in a 200-year old house on the site of the original Watson family home. They’ve raised their beautiful daughters on the farm and their girls really enjoy being a part of the activities. Melissa and Cassie prepared and served the Sunday meal to the entire Devon weekend crowd and it was delicious, particularly the corn chili and those Devon hot dogs. We all thank you very much!

Don and Heather are used to entertaining people as the historic Watson farm hosts field days every month in the summer. Their city cousins come to the farm to get a taste of history and see how food is really produced.

Once again, as in 2007, the spirit at the meeting among Devon breeders from across the country was contagious. And I find it personally rewarding to see our guest speakers getting swept up in the enthusiasm and going way beyond their usual instruction to share information in hallways, picnic tables and in the pastures. They simply never stopped sharing. Thank you Abe Collins, Dr. Will Winter, and our panel members.

And while I am handing out “thank you’s”, I want to send along a very special note of appreciation to all the meeting sponsors: AgriEnergy Resources of Princeton, IL; Agri-Dynamics of Martins Creek, PA; Helfter Feeds of Osco, IL; Fertrell Company of Bainbridge, PA; Rhode Island RC & D; USDA-NRCS; University of Rhode Island – Cooperative Extension; and Historic New England. We could not have staged such an ambitious program without you.

This year’s Gourmet Beef on Grass was another triumph and raises the bar for the committee planning next year’s meeting in Texas. But Deb Manahan and her group are already well along in their planning and, at the very least, they promise warmer weather and a warm Texas-style welcome!

If you wish to discuss this further, contact me.

Gearld Fry