Ecological Farmers Unite! And Dance!

This past week I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Ecological Farming Associations annual conference. Eco-farm is a great organization working to encourage an ecological mindset in farming and to support existing farmers and farms through education, advocacy, networking, and a good dose of fun and celebration.

The conference was 3 extremely full days of workshops and speakers on a huge range of topics, amazing meals from mostly local organic/sustainably grown foods, well over a thousand agriculture-involved people, and of course, some dancing.

I was doing work trade so I worked at both the organic beer and cheese tasting and the healing center (as well as workshop attendance counting). At the beer and cheese table, I was given responsibility over a table of locally made organic and sustainably produced cheese, so basically I was in heaven. I didn’t know much about the cheeses technically, but WOW they were good.

One was a fresh cheese from Sheana Davis, made of a blend of triple cream cow’s milk and goat milk. And then there was a beautiful cheese from the Burroughs Family Farm in Oakdale. When I ran out of information about the cheese (after about 1 sentence) if people asked for more info I told them it was from the heart of dairy country and that Oakdale is the cowboy capital of the world. A few people were familiar with Oakdale and we shared in central valley pride.

Working the Beer and Cheese tasting is a great opportunity for celebrity spotting. 😉 Many of the people I look up to in the farming world were there! Among the people who came through the line were a farmer from the successful and spirited Full Belly Farm, urban farmer and writer Novella Carpenter, the Rancho Piccolo CSA farmer from Atwater, and more!

The healing center was also great. Farmer’s need a good massage once in a while, and it was good to see people’s blissful expressions after their session. There were four very talented healers each with a different style. One person did barefoot shiatsu and thai massage, another did acupuncture, another did western, and a fourth did a mixture of shiatsu and sports massage.

Ok so you might be wondering if I went to any workshops! I did! Among the workshops I went to were the ups and downs of farmers markets, dynamic young farmers, why saving seed matters, christian spirituality in agriculture, and the spotted wing drosophila (a pest fly). There was a plenary session featuring successful farmers, and a session with members of the Hopi, talking about rebuilding their local food system.

And then there was the contra dance, the seed swap, and many other things. There was a LOT going on!

Tomorrow I’ll clue you in to some more of the informational aspects of the conference.

Have a good day everyone!
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