CT NOFA Conference 2010

Today I attended my first NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association) conference held at the Manchester Community College in Connecticut and I'm so glad I went! It was so refreshing to meet other individuals so heavily invested in the local food movement and bringing pride back to regional agriculture.

Some of the highlights...
  • I went to an amazing workshop about seed saving and the history, politics and daunting future the ancient practice faces. Ken Greene of the Hudson Valley Seed Library (who is featured in a "Vogue" brief this month). Greene and his partner Doug Muller are two extremely knowledgeable and inspiring individuals who are trying to restore native and regional seeds back to New York and the Northeast, as well as give local artists a chance to illustrate their interpretations of plants on the seed packets themselves. If you have a chance to visit the library or hear one of these two men speak, go!
  • Keynote speaker Michael Shuman, a green activist, entrepreneur, author and attorney, provided a concise and thought-provoking presentation of the economic and community development opportunities of local food businesses. His research and commentary just make sense in terms of cultivating a healthy economy and nation through the cultivation of local food businesses. Monocultures and agribusiness monopolies deny individual communities of identity and potential. Check out his work at Small-Mart.org, based on the book called "The Small-mart Revolution" (which I bought a copy of and can't wait to read). The guy's brilliant! (Here's a commentary he wrote for The Huffington Post).
  • If you want a model of quite possibly the most organized CSA, contact Dina Brewster at The Hickories, a 200-member CSA in Ridgefield, Conn. The content of her workshop on starting and maintaining a successful CSA didn't miss a gritty detail.
I'll be updating my resource guides in the next couple days as I explore the many new organizations, Web sites and guides I came across at the NOFA conference.

You may think these conferences are for a bunch of farm nerds, and, largely, they are, but if you are novice or simply want to know more about how to be a part of a more sustainable gastronomic and farm effort, I urge you to attend one in your area.