This past weekend I went to the annual winter conference for NOFA-NY. Last year was my first time at the conference. I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship this year, and as long as I remain in this area, I plan to go each winter.
In two-and-a-half days I learn so much stuff that come Sunday afternoon I am forced to pass out for several hours. Seriously. My brain has been bouncing from cover crops, to pests, to beer making, to botanical drawing, to herbs…and on and on.
I am always amazed most by the people there. I see familiar faces of seasoned farmers who are still trying to learn. This is exciting and reassuring. It means there will always be something new and interesting to learn with farming, and that no matter how long I do it, I’ll never know it all.
It’s great to hear veteran farmers talk about things they screwed up, or new things they just figured out, or issues with land and/or water. It makes me feel less alone and less frustrated.
I also love to see the range of ages. There were some teenagers there, up to people probably in their 80s. In one session I sat next to man about my father’s age who was dressed very well and said he was a gardener who went a little overboard and ended up starting a CSA. That is damn impressive!
There are people who are just barely dipping their toes into the water of farming. Even though I feel really behind the curve, I realize I’m not. I have some land, and some knowledge, and a lot of gusto, and I think that’s what counts the most.
Being there also gives me a lot of hope. It’s so easy to get negative about the current state of food and farming but being surrounded by over 1,000 people who have their lives invested in turning things around makes you realize that all is not lost. We will eventually right this ship.
I got to try contra dancing for the first time too. I’ve done Zumba before, but contra dancing seriously whooped my butt. I was sweating like crazy and it was a heck of a good time.
I’m planning my seed order now. I’m still going to give it a few weeks though. It’s hard to keep myself in check though and not get overly ambitious. As soon as the weather starts to look a little less bleak I’m going to go out around my property to scope out some new growing spaces.
It looks like I’ll be growing mostly greens and herbs. I will expand my bees as well. If you are interested in following along with any of it you can “like” the farm’s facebook page.