Thursday, March 6, 2014

Inspiring Farmers in the Northeast at our 32nd Annual Winter Conference!

Swift Farms sold their amazing bees wax products
I don’t know about you, but the staff at CT NOFA is still bathing in the afterglow of an inspiring and successful Winter Conference!

The 32nd annual Winter Conference was held at Western Connecticut State University this past Saturday, March 1st and had over 900 people in attendance, a new record! The day started with attendees gathering in our vendor area where they were able to fill their free CT NOFA tote bags with literature and goodies from educational exhibitors, local farmers, and crafters! (A full list of vendors and exhibitors from the day can be found at HERE)

Our conference offered a diverse array of workshops, so many it was almost hard to choose! Our first session of presentations included: Raising Pasture Raised Pigs with CT NOFA Board members Greg Hazleton of Copper Hill Farm, Grafting Fruit Trees with Nicholas Mancini, Full of Beans with Bill Duesing of Old Solar Farm, plus many more! A full list of workshops from the day can be found HERE.

After the first session, participants gathered in White Hall for the Keynote presentation given by Fred Kirschenmann, a Distinguished Fellow for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and President of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York. The theme of Fred’s talk was “Tomorrow’s Farmer & You” which educated the crowd on the three main obstacles the new generations of farmers are facing; 1. our dependence on cheap energy, 2. the inputs of our industrialized food and agriculture system and 3. Running out of water. A great recap of the keynote address can be found HERE 
Keynote Address given by Fred Kirschenmann

FFA of Woodbury, CT
While the average age of the American farmer at 58.3 years old, the major concern in the agriculture industry is who will grow our food once these farmers retire? Our hope was restored in the next generation with a record number of young and beginning farmers in attending the conference including the Future Farmers of America volunteers from Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury, CT and students from Common Ground High School who also assisted in a workshop titled Show me the Money! Developing Youth based Agricultural Enterprise with, by and for Youth!

Foodies who attended rejoiced as they sampled from some of Fairfield county’s most creative chefs who provided lunch for the conference. Some crowd favorite included the beef stew from Barcelona of South Norwalk, the Hummus & Falafal sampler from Kibberia of Danbury and Roasted vegetable & grain salad with local herbs and greens from LeFarm & The Whelk of Westport. Thank you lunch sponsors for providing such delicious food to all our attendees.  
Stanziato's provided roasted carrot and cauliflower soup

CT NOFA would like to thank all who attended the event and made it our best Winter Conference yet! A Special thank you to our Co-Sponsors Western Connecticut State University and The Jane Goodall Center for Excellence in Environmental Studies. We would also like to thank our Gold Sponsor Millstone Farm and our Silver Sponsors Stoneyfield Farm, Farm Credit East, and the Connecticut land Conservation Council. A full list of our event sponsors can be found HERE.

For more photos from the 32nd Annual Winter Conference view the event facebook album here 

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