So on February 25th, at around 5am, Arlo (that would be myself) carpooled over to La Crosse.I traveled with our very own Farmer in Residence, Andrew, and 5 other people to the Midwest Organic Farming Conference. We arrived around 8 o’clock, just in time for registration, and as soon as we got through the lines, we were immersed in gruff, callused farmers, dread-laden hippies, and anyone else who you think might show up to an organic farming conference.
The Conference is basically an array of workshops, three a day, with lunch, dinner and a keynote speaker involved in the schedule. when we arrived, the first workshop I went to was Cover Crop Benefits and Technique, Which I found extremely interesting and helpful. The speaker was explaining how great using cover crops (crops planted and then either tilled or killed and flattened on the soil to give the soil nutrients and organic matter) is for your soil and farming.
There was a break in which got snacks and coffee from the array of a snack bar containing all-organic products. It was all incredibly delicious. After we stocked up, we journeyed to the next workshop. The second was on Cold-Climate winter production. This I found incredibly helpful in the greenhouses situation. one of the bigger differences between us and the speaker was that he was producing on a very large scale, so he has heated structures. He could grow year round, but he had a lot of useful things to say.
Again there was a break and we ate a scrumptious dinner, and tried to decide what our third workshop of the day would be. The third workshop was called Tillage With a Purpose, talking about the pros and cons of a no-till farming system.
After the third workshop we ate the provided dinner, which surpassed the lunch by far. It was really fun to sit and talk with strangers across the table and get into conversations. After dinner we went to a theatrical production about old farmers trying to figure out to do with their land after they die. After, we went to hotel and got a great nights sleep.
The Next day we got up and ate breakfast at the conference, and went to a workshop about powering your farm with renewable energy, which is something I’ve always been interested in. The speaker was talking about the different options for renewable energy that are available for farmers and everybody else.
The keynote speaker that day Tom Stearns, from an orginization in vermont called High Mowing Seeds. He spoke about the vitality of re-creating our food system. After the presentation there was a follow-up discussion, which I attended. He explained about what he did in Vermont, and the audience asked questions while he answered them.
The last Workshop that I attended before the drive back was a workshop with two people explaining about efficient ways of transplanting seedlings. It was incredibly informative and well-layed out. They brought different ways of quickly planting seeds, on of which involved a vacuum. They also explained about the germination chambers which I had never heard of before. It was solid last workshop.
Every year, its always really fun to go and experience this massive amount (2800+) of people to come and learn about this broad style of farming. I enjoyed it an incredible amount, and I hope to have the privilege of going back net year.
If you want more information about the conference, visit: http://www.mosesorganic.org/conference.html