Today I went to a meeting to hear about grant opportunities from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. I was supposed to meet a person from the farmers’ market there. Actually, I was originally supposed to meet two, but one had a scheduling conflict, so that left Bob. I had exchanged e-mails with Bob but we had never met in person. I got to the location about five minutes early. I decided that Bob would look like a farmer, without really deciding what I thought a farmer looked like. Seeing a man in a chambray shirt and a red billed cap on a bench in the lobby, I approached him. “Are you Bob?”
“Uh, no,” he said.
Another guy came in a few minutes later. He had a tanned, weathered face and a billed cap, faded jeans. “Hi, are you Bob, from the farmers’ market?”
It seemed like I accosted every male who entered the lobby for the next six or seven minutes. I felt like an incompetent hooker. Then the presentation started and I went inside. A minute later a guy came in. I motioned him over. “Are you Bob?” I whispered.
“No,” he whispered back, “I’m Jack.”
About seven minutes into the presentation I heard the door open behind me. I man came in and walked down the aisle. He sat about two rows in front of me. By then, the presenters had us introducing ourselves. When it was his turn, he said, “My name is Bob and . . .”
The primary grant opportunity covers projects that “. . .enhance the competitiveness of California specialty crops.” And just what are specialty crops? I asked a consultant that once, and she said, “Anything grown in dirt.”
The presenter today said California has about seventy-four specialty crops. Specialty crops do not include livestock, dairy, poultry or eggs, and apparently not grains (although hops are included. For a second there, I thought microbreweries might qualify for these grants, but apparently not).
Some example of these special crops include; almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts; guava, kiwi, apples and apricots; chestnuts, coconuts, coffee and cherimoya; artichokes, beans, cabbage; endive, garlic, horseradish; taro, tomato and turnip; allspice, basil, borage; clary, cloves, comfrey; ephedra, feverfew, ginko biloba and goldenseal.
After the meeting ended I started to walk back to my building when I saw one of our analysts from the County Administrator’s office. I yelled and waved and he waited while I caught up.
“What brings you over this way?” he said.
“The CDFA 2011 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program,” I said.
“It did not,” he said.
“No really. See, I even have a binder, with tabs. What’s harder evidence than a binder with tabs?”
“A Powerpoint presentation,” he said.