Category Archives: food politics

My NOFA Conference Recap or A Brain Full of Thoughts

Farm postings. There is no shortage of internship or education opportunities, that's for sure!

Farm postings. There is no shortage of internship or education opportunities, that’s for sure!

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.

photo-135

Swing your partner round and round!

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.

Advertisements

Humanity…we have a problem.

Recently I’ve been mulling something over.

I am incredibly lucky to have this amazing network of women in my life who love to cook, bake, and preserve and who are great at it.

I have a local community of talented and passionate farmers who provide me with things that people pay twice as much for at Whole Foods. Plus I get the benefit of their friendship and even their knowledge for when we get the chance to have a farm of our own.

I have a great local library packed with books on beekeeping and cheese making. There are NOFA conferences and food swaps and classes. Not to mention almost anything I could imagine to want to learn is just a Google search away.

But what eats at me, when I’m at a super fun cheese making party stirring a pot of curds, or trying to figure out how to make hamburger buns, is that my great grandmother would laugh at me if she were still alive.

She used to wake up each morning bright and early to bake bread fresh for the day. Every Christmas she’d knit slippers for my brother and I. She taught my mom a lot about cooking and baking, and my mom still makes her lemon meringue pie that’s so good it’ll make you want to cry.

When I talk to my grandpa, who used to have a farm of his own, about the raw milk we get he says, “Oh that stuff your mom buys at the store just tastes like water, it’s awful.” His son (my stepdad) used to have to milk all their cows before school, even with 5 feet of snow on the ground.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that people are learning about raw milk, organic gardening, canning and everything else. I think it’s fantastic. But I’m taken aback when I hear stories like Chris’ coworker asking him if you have to do something special to an egg before you can crack it and eat it. He honestly had no idea you could use it right from the chicken.

Or the patrons at the market who seriously don’t understand why we don’t carry items like lemons or avocados. I’m honestly just baffled when it happens, and sadly it happens more than you’d expect.

If we can lose all of this basic knowledge in 3 or 4 generations I sure hope it doesn’t take longer than that for us to get it back. There’s just too much riding on it.