04 May 2010

CREA: The Group Meeting III

When Clint Hardy and Suzy Martin came to visit, we were able to attend another CREA group meeting, CREA Pergamino. Jorge Banciotto is the vocale for northern Buenos Aires and he invited us to this meeting. Our host farm was Estancia Santa Rosa, about 10 or 15 km from the paved road. (Later that turned out to be quite the adventure.)

The morning meeting was different than usual. The morning was devoted to discussing how/if CREA should change. The producers were asked to work in groups, fill out individual surveys and discuss how and if CREA should change. The survey asked several questions from the purpose of CREA to the function of the various components of CREA. I kept a copy because it has some of the same questions we might need to ask if we develop something like this.

Once the morning session was over, we were served lunch. I have been told by more than one member that a good lunch is critical to a good meeting (sounds like home). But, for lunch, we started with salami, cheese, olives and bread as appetizers. After that, we had epanadas, baked joys of beef or ham wrapped in something similar to a pie crust. After that, we moved on to chori-pan, which would be similar to an Italian sausage sandwich with French bread. That was capped off with an ice cream dessert and coffee.

After lunch, the amazing part happened... all of the members stayed and all of the members stayed awake. The three "Americanos" marveled at the Argentines' ability to stay attentive and engaged after such a meal.

The afternoon became the normal CREA group meeting with the presentation by the host and group discussion. This group function was similar to the others I have witnessed. The group members do their best to give an honest assessment of the host farm and to provide valuable criticism.

Equally impressive to the ability to stay awake after a big lunch, was the quietness of cell phones. All cell phones were on silent. During the entire day, only three or four calls were answered. If they were answered, the producer quickly and quietly left the meeting area. At home, it almost seems a demonstration of importance to take a cell phone call during a meeting. Here, it was considered rude.  For the most part, the group members stayed engaged for the entire time of the meeting. They all talked, but they were courteous towards each other. Once in a while, the moderator would have to quiet everyone and restore order. This is the type of engagement we in Extension say we want, but we never quite get there in most of our meetings.

It was nearly dark when it was time to leave... and it had been raining all day. We were 10 to 15 km from paved roads, so the drive to the paved roads was extremely exciting. I say exciting because we never had to get out and push... although we came close once or twice. Jorge, the producer who invited us, was also our driver. If he ever decides to change careers, I think he would do just fine in NASCAR or on the Rally circuit!

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