Sign Up Now for NOFA-VT Winter Conference

A weekend of learning about organics

It’s time to sign up for the Northeast Organic Farmer’s Association Winter Conference. In its 35th year, this weekend-long event is a grand opportunity for farmers, wanna-be farmers, gardeners, organic consumers and educators to get together for talk, good food, workshops and plenty to think about.

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I can remember when the NOFA conference was held in the gym at Vo-Tech in Randolph, and when a good turnout was 300 like-minded (and long-haired) souls. But organizers anticipate 1100 participants this year. The keynote speakers include Vandana Shiva, a well-known anti-GMO and environmental activist and Cuban scientist and farmer, Dr. Fernando Funes Monzote. The theme for this year’s program seems appropriate, “Beyond Borders: Our Role in the Global Food Movement.”

Dr. Vandana Shiva

The conference takes place in Burlington at UVM’s Davis Center, 590 Main Street. The Davis Center will serve as the main hub, with workshops in nearby classrooms and buildings. Parking in the Jeffords and Given lots is free, ample, and within walking distance to the Davis Center. 

You can get the details from the brochure, which you can see by clicking here. It costs $85 each day for non-members, and $70 a day for members, but you can save $10 by paying before February 13.  In addition to the keynote speakers, there are about 100 workshops to choose from, and you can preview the array by clicking here to see the catalog. There is always a marketplace full of books, tools and more.

Dr. Fernandez Funes Monzote

As I went through the brochure it seemed that most workshops were aimed at farmers, not the average gardener. But some caught my interest: Raising Ducks, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Fruit Trees, Lyme Disease Prevention, Introduction to Phytonutrients, Fermented Vegetables, Managing Blue Orchard Bees and Native Pollinators, and one called Food and Mood. I daresay that there is something for everyone.

For me, a highlight of the conference is always a chance to talk gardening with people who feel passionate about using organic techniques, and learning from them. Lunch is available for purchase on Saturday and Sunday and is a great time to meet others. There is a social event Saturday evening with free hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. And each year the Strafford Organic Creamery provides free ice cream for all – an old fashioned ice cream social held this year on Sunday from 5 to 6:15. It is so exciting to meet so many young people who are starting off as organic farmers, too!

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