This weekend is NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association)- VT’s 31st annual winter conference. This event draws farmers, educators, and local food enthusiasts from all over New England to expand their network, share their knowledge, and attend some of the 70+ workshops that are available. The conference takes place at the University of Vermont campus in the beautiful city of Burlington, where conference attendees can pair their weekend of learning with evenings exploring the active downtown scene. Vermont’s NOFA chapter is one of the most active in the region, helping to meet the state’s goals of establishing the nation’s premier model of food system sustainability.
This year’s conference includes workshops on everything from homesteading, to growing oilseeds, composting, meat production, herbal medicine, farm-based education, and everything in between. This weekend gives farmers the opportunity to get out during the “slow” part of the season to share their skills and knowledge with Vermont’s incredibly dynamic and diverse local food movement. The weekend also includes art projects, round table discussions, local meals, an evening dance, and TED-style talks by experts in different food system topics.
Green Mountain College always has the highest conference attendance of any of the schools in the region. Students from the sustainable agriculture program go as part of Professor Philip Ackerman-Leist’s courses, and the many other students who are active in the local food movement make a point of attending. This conference gives GMC students the chance to learn about different issues in the local food movement, generate ideas with experts, and begin to build a professional network that will help them find their dream internship or a great job. This active participation in a professional network early in their college experience is one of the many great parts of GMC’s sustainable agriculture major, which makes a point of pairing students’ class work with “real world” experiences whenever possible.
Written by: Alison E. Putnam