I've been practicing safe blogging by not saying before now that I wasn't home this weekend. For anyone who might have wanted to sneak into my house to wash dishes - too late. I'm home now. And besides, this time the dishes were all actually clean.
The NOFA conference was this weekend in Saratoga Springs, NY. NOFA stands for Northeast Organic Farmer's Association, and this year was my second NOFA conference. Last year, I went with a coworker who owns an alpaca farm. I was all full of piss and vinegar, thinking that I would start a business renting goats out to eat weeds in the next year (as in this past year). I had business cards and brochures made up and did the conference thing with energy.
Now it's a year later. My friend got laid off in June along with 10 other people, and I hadn't seen her since then. We're both a little older and wiser than last year. I still want to start the goat-weed-eating business, but now I'm looking at more options than I was before, and not expecting it to happen in one year. She's working on becoming a teacher, thinking that it will be a more stable field than manufacturing.
The conference had over 1,000 people! There were maybe 10 breakout rooms that had workhops, two in the morning and afternoon yesterday, and then two more this morning. I went to a few sessions for beginning farmers, and listened to other people tell their stories, how they did it, what worked, what didn't. I went to a cheesemaking session, flour milling session, and I can't even remember some of the sessions I went to.
For some reason, several of the sessions found me dabbing my eyes multiple times. I'm not exactly sure why, except that it's this close to the tender heart of everything I've been devoting all my emotional and physical energy to for over a year now. It's an understatement to say that I found it moving.
What a weird looking bunch of folks! These are people who don't do much thinking about what other people think. They run organic farms. They sell organic produce to us at farmer's markets, through CSAs, restaurants, and who knows what else. They're about 10 years ahead of the curve. Some of these folks have been this far ahead since, like 1983, and the rest of us are just now catching up. One thing that struck me is how healthy they all look. This pasty, overweight person looks at them and just thinks, "whatever they've got, I want some. I want to be part of that."
That's about all I can say right now about the conference. As I work through some of the things I learned, I'm sure I'll bring pieces and parts up again.
One other note: the temperature has turned around, and it's all uphill from here! I spend an inordinate amount of time this time of year looking at the daylight and average temperature charts and comparing them to our actual temperature. This past weekend was the lowest average temperature of the year. Today's average temperature is warmer than yesterdays, and tomorrow's will be warmer than today's. Now that, my readerly friends, is what I'm talkin' about!
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