The first was the Eco Farm Conference in Monterey, CA. That was a tough place to visit :). This is the conference where the hardcore organic food movement gathers annually. Lots of great classes on food systems, local agriculture and environmental initiatives. At this conference I was able to connect with other growers, buyers and foodies. Lots of optimism and hope for the future of organic food. And I wholeheartedly concur that the good food movement is alive and well.
The following week I found myself in Coeur d’Alene, ID at another meeting. This one was a part of a the local farm bank that I work with. At this meeting I found myself sitting among farmers who farm thousands of acres. This agriculture group refers to themselves as Agribusiness or production Ag. Even though I don’t farm that kind of acreage, I had been invited to the table to get in there and talk about healthy food and healthy farming practices and also listen to the wisdom these farmers have to offer. Also, this group is dealing with Succession Planning, so a good amount of time was spent on the importance of “planning to pass” the farm onto the next generation of farmers. The big take away for me at this conference was to ensure that as I plan for the future, I update our wills!
But, sadly, I have to admit that coming from CA to ID, the two conferences were more like the weather in more ways than one. You could say that one group drinks Bud and grows the Hops for it and the other is more likely to grow the bud and smoke it. I will let you decide which group does which (just for the record, I do neither). Tragically, both groups view each other as enemies. I think there is a lot of common good that can be shared between both groups if we could be less democrat and republican, liberal and conservative, or quite frankly, just plain civil.
But the last conference in Spokane was about growing nutrient-rich food! Now this is a breath of fresh air! The growers here are giddy with the results they get farming with nature and not against it. It is about using soil and foliar biology to build nutrition in the plants that feed YOU! Now this is right up my alley—large growers, small growers, organic or mostly organic growers, all focused on not only replacing chemical inputs with organic inputs, but farming with a whole different set of principles that put the soil first, not profits.
This is why I farm biologically, why I farm the soil, because the soil is everything. Benjamin Franklin said it best, “A nation that destroys its soils, destroys itself.” This famer and the farmers we work with to feed you every week are a part of the solution, farming living soil and producing living food.
Hurry up spring, as I can hardly wait to start farming!