As part of the development of this program, we conducted several interviews, focus groups and surveys with individuals interested in locally sourced, sustainable food. The more dedicated locavores we spoke to were sincerely trying to eat only food that originated within 100 miles of their homes in the Midwest.
Here are just a few of our observations about the locavore lifestyle and how those issues could and should impact the development of your program to convert locavores into new adult hunters and/or anglers:
Time and Effort Intense – Many of the individuals we spoke to raised their own vegetables and some even raised chickens for eggs and meat. In addition many of them shopped at multiple farmer’s markets or bought directly from multiple farmers to get the best quality and/or prices possible. Once they got the food home, many of them canned or froze enough seasonal produce to make it through the winter. And on top of all that, nearly every meal they ate was cooked from scratch. No store bought frozen or processed food, no canned soup or boxes of crackers. They made nearly everything they ate with their own hands.
You need to respect their time challenged lives. First, you’ll need to persuade them that the time spent learning to hunt or fish and actually hunting or fishing will be productive. Second, you’ll need to be efficient with their time and train them effectively in as little time as possible.
Requires a Fair Amount of Space – Enough canned and frozen produce to get a couple much less and family through the winter takes up a lot of space and many of the locavores we spoke to lived in urban environments in one and two bedroom apartments. Those that lived in the country or the suburbs and grew some of their own food required even more space for gardens, compost piles and equipment.
We all know hunters and anglers have a tendency to collect gear. Some they need, some they don’t and some that just didn’t quite work out. Locavores already have freezers full of frozen tomatoes and corn and shelves lined with canned beans, apple sauce and beats. You’ll need to teach a minimalist type of hunting or angling. Teach them just what equipment they’ll need to be effective but not so much that the storage or purchase of the gear becomes a burden.
Constant Learning – Very few of the locavores we spoke to grew up in the locavore lifestyle, they made a decision to start eating more sustainably and had to learn how to do so. They have to learn who grows the best corn or beans or squash. They have to learn how to can and freeze fresh produce for winter and how to raise chickens and eventually how to slaughter them. Not to mention finding new, nutritious and good tasting ways to cook all the locally sourced food they worked so hard to come up with.
Locavores are obviously no stranger to learning. But they already have a lot to learn and are learning more every day. You’ll need to persuade them their effort will be worthwhile and teach them so that it’s as easy as possible for them to pick up the skills they need.
Overwhelmed by the thought of hunting/angling – The locavores we spoke to did not grow up hunting or fishing. They don’t know where to start to learn. They don’t know what gear to buy. They don’t know how to find a deer or a fish. They don’t know how to harvest it or what to do with it when they do. They don’t know how to find their way around in the woods and may not even be comfortable alone in the dark.
You need to assure them that you will start with the basics. And let them know that no question is a stupid question. Explain that you understand that they can’t know what they’ve never been taught. And most importantly, you have to mean all that and act accordingly. You can’t roll your eyes when someone can’t find the safety or doesn’t know how to adjust the drag. Instructors can’t exchange knowing smiles when a student gets queasy gutting a deer. It will be hard for many of your instructors and mentors to accept that these people didn’t grow up spending summers playing in the woods with their BB gun and fishing with their grandpa from an old wooden row boat the way they did.
Intimidated by the hunting/angling “club” – Locavores are intimidated by hunters and anglers, especially hunters. They feel that hunting is a special club that they aren’t welcome to join and aren’t even sure they want to.
First, you need to ensure them that all hunters and anglers are not rednecks with coolers full of cheap beer and loaded guns just out to kill or catch something and hang it on the wall above the TV. The vast majority of hunters and anglers are responsible, conservation minded sportsmen (and women) who respect nature and they quarry. Second, you’ll have to make them feel absolutely welcome and let them know that hunters and anglers everywhere welcome them to the sport and will almost always be helpful and enjoy an opportunity to talk gear or swap stories from the field.
If you convey these thoughts in your programs promotional efforts and actually practice them when you work with new adult hunters and anglers, then you will attract the right participants and turn them into long term participants in the sport and lifestyle.