I’ve been doing lots of interviews, talks, and promotions of #heritagebreedsweek for the last two weeks. As a historian and someone who loves to connect with personalities in history, I’ve been doing deep research again on some of the people upon whose shoulders we stand when we do our conservation work. On May 26 I put some of that information together for a short talk at my Athens Toastmasters meeting via Zoom. I made a recording of that speech and put it on YouTube. You can hear it here. The rest of this article gives you a bit more context and sources for that short talk.
Donna Dorminey and I had the privilege of attending the 40th Annual Conference of The Livestock Conservancy and to share our thoughts about strategies members could use to protect their favorite breeds. During the conference, we made new friends, connected with people we only knew virtually, and attended some great sessions. My absolute favorite two presentations were given by Libby Henson, the first paid executive director of the American Minor Breeds Conservancy (now The Livestock Conservancy) from 1985 to to 1988. She gave a keynote address that told the story of her father who helped found the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST). She also shared how she helped a struggling American Minor Breeds Conservancy (AMBC) find its feet as its first paid executive director. She had fantastic slides and detailed knowledge that captivated me. Her second presentation was about Grassroots Systems Ltd. She is the co-founder and co-director of this company that owns the software that runs the registries of every heritage breed in Great Britain. I was very impressed with the depth of analysis the system can achieve and with Libby’s knowledge of genetics and breeding strategies.
When I looked into Libby’s company biography, I learned that she had also worked for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations , another respected source of information I refer to regularly. I was curious about her father and found out more about his background. He was the son of a comedian and an actor but loved to spend his holidays helping out at a farm. Instead of following his parents and younger brother to life on a stage, he chose the life of a farmer and dedicated his life to championing heritage breeds.
I hope you enjoy hearing a bit of the back-story of how the RBST was formed and how The Livestock Conservancy evolved. It gives me more appreciation of the people and forces that plugged away during difficult times for a good cause.
I’ve been a guest on The Homestead Journey Podcast for two weeks in a row. The first was released May 18th and is S1E31. The second episode was released on May 24 and is S1E32. Brian Wells is doing an excellent job with this, so I hope you can check out the show.
Wishing you great weather, radiant health, healthy crops, and bountiful livestock.