Dignitaries from China Visit B Street Farm

Forest Grove’s B Street Farm served as a meeting point for two cultures Monday, July 23, when several visiting Chinese dignitaries toured the permaculture project as part of their experience as guests of the International Visitor Leadership Program.

The tour was led by the farm’s project director Terry O’Day, also an art professor at Pacific. O’Day introduced the Chinese delegation to the permaculture model and discussed topics of poverty alleviation and development in rural areas through agriculture and community involvement.

The IVLP is sponsored by the US Department of State and hosts thousands of international leaders each year. Guests come from more than 100 foreign countries and represent of a wide range of fields.

The group from China included Ms. Qiao Wang, director of SunMen, a charity that provides basic necessities to the poor in China’s Fujian Province; and Zhuoqun Huang, chairman of the Guangdong Longtouma Milk Industry Biotechnology Co., which is on the cutting edge of sustainable agriculture in China. Also visiting were Ms. Liqiong Hi, chairwoman of the Women’s Federation of Hongta district in Yuxi City; and Mr. Binxiang Qi, a grad student at Sanchuan University.

Each guest of the ILVP stays in America for up to three weeks and visits several states on a tour structured to match their interests and priorities. The goal of the IVLP is to foster a better understanding of the culture and traditions in the United States and to introduce visitors to new ideas and create lasting international bonds.

The US Embassy personally selects them as leaders in their fields. The program, established in 1940, has hosted dozens of future Prime Ministers, Presidents, and Nobel laureates, including Felipe Calderon, current president of Mexico, and Julia Gillard, current Prime Minister of Australia.

The World Affairs Council of Oregon facilitated the visit to the farm. The council is a non-profit organization that works to educate Oregonians in foreign affairs and develop international understanding. Established in 1947 by Reed College students and professors, it has worked with K-12 schools, organized economic summits, and hosted international visitors.

The B Street Farm was founded in 2005 through a joint effort by Pacific University and the Forest Grove community.

“The project integrates classroom learning with complementary out-of-classroom experiences by involving students in the development of a demonstration farm,” said O’Day.

The site has provided internship opportunities for environmental studies students and has been a destination for humanities and literature students. In addition to its value to the students of Pacific, the Forest Grove community has also benefited.

For instance, the organization Adelantes Mujeres, which provides education and business opportunities to low-income Hispanic women, has used the farm to teach agricultural skills to its members.

Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012