I’m back! from the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service’s 23rd annual Organic Farming Conference. Held in La Crosse, WI, the conference is three days of workshops, entertainment, food, networking and fun. All related to organic farming. It’s like being a kid in a candy factory. This is not where you buy the candy, but it is where the candy gets made, where it is thought up and designed and tested. It’s a super conference full of excellent people who are passionate about what they do. (No, you will not find a Snicker’s bar in your CSA box.)
I spent my entire first day learning about high tunnels from Adam Montri and Mike Bollinger. High tunnels allow growers to extend the season, harvesting spinach in January and tomatoes in June. That class offered an enormous wealth of information, discussing many aspects of high tunnel management that I was unaware of, plus I walked away with a copy of all the powerpoint slides and a few hundred pages of additional resources. I also went to workshops on food safety, crop rotation, CSA management, fungal dynamics and apple orchards.
Walking the halls with so many well-respected, experienced growers was like being in Hollywood, except I actually recognized the people I was walking past. (I’m not so good with famous people.) And as you might expect at the largest organic farming conference in the world, the enthusiasm was contagious. I had impromptu brainstorming sessions with my fellow farmer friends and met many new people, often swapping farm stories across tables as we filled up on an delicious all-organic lunches.
After three long days of trekking from class to class among more than 3,300 other people and thinking (or scheming?) how to apply the things I learned to my own farm, I was pretty exhausted. So, it’s good to be home. A good night’s sleep tonight, then I’ll be ready for another year of farming tomorrow!