Last month, I had the pleasure of attending my first ever Stone Barn’s Young Farmer’s Conference held on December 1st and 2nd at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Tarrytown, NY. Over 250 young and beginning farmers from 24 states and five countries convened to attend intensive workshops, participate in hands-on demos, and gain inspiration from others in the field. Luckily, I was one of the few who obtained a scholarship to attend this fabulous, sold-out conference!
I often joke with friends that I’m a “professional conference attendee,” because of my frequent attendance to these kind of events, but I really do gain something valuable from every conference that I go to and the YF Conference was no exception. It was so refreshing to see other people my age who shared the same interest and passion for organic farming. For two days I felt completely at home, as I was surrounded by my new-found flannel-wearing, bearded friends. What’s so great about this young generation of organic farmers is that we really “get it” — we realize that a new way of farming is desperately needed, one that does not deplete the earth of its resources, pollute our air and water nor endanger the heath and safety of our farm workers. I met people from all different backgrounds, most were college-educated and sought to apply their diversified skills to the sustainable farming movement, I guess I was one of those people too.
I have come to appreciate and embrace my diversified interests as I get just as excited about the thought of attending a workshop about growing excellent field tomatoes as I get about growing community through social media. Did you know that in order to ensure a balanced, healthy soil for your heirloom tomatoes you should first fill the hole with a concoction of crushed egg shells, fish and kelp solution, bone char, and compost? What about how the simple act of holding up a cardboard sign that reads “Occupy the Pasture” can spark a nationwide discussion about our broken food system?
This increasing discontent over our current food system was carried over that following weekend at the Occupy Wall Street Farmers’ March, where hundreds of farmers, students, bloggers, urban gardeners, activists, and concerned citizens came together to regain control of our food supply. In attendance was urban farmer, Karen Washington, who spoke about the need for fresh, healthy food in low-income areas.
As you can imagine, I was exhausted after a jam-packed weekend filled with insightful speeches, enlightening workshops, energetic protests and of course delicious food.
I wish you all a happy and healthy new year, filled with plenty of yummy food, close friends and loved ones!