The recent Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) conference in State College was a great event attended by over two thousand people. In addition to sitting in on interesting workshops and presentations, it was fun to interact with all the farmers, gardeners, and sustainable agriculture devotees that were in attendance.
Reconnecting with Old Friends at the PASA Conference
This was an opportunity to reconnect with old friends like Dave Jacke, author of the two volume “Edible Forest Gardens,” and Grace Lafever of Sonnewald Natural Foods outside of York, PA who both provided a series of awesome lectures at the conference.
The pre-conference track on Homesteading was the one that I chose to attend and it was a good decision. The co-presenters were Harvey Ussery of The Modern Homestead and Kate Hunter of Living the Frugal Life, who is also a PA garden blogger. I had met and interviewed Harvey previously, but this was my first opportunity to meet Kate and her husband who are both experts on small scale homesteading.
The Changing Demographics among PASA Members
Then there were the familiar faces of people like Meg, Cathy, and Bruce that I have gotten to know over years of attending numerous PASA conferences. With many friendly PASA members and a large number of first-timers it’s easy to make new friends and share like passions for gardening, farming, and sustainable food production!
As one speaker noted the demographics have shifted over the twenty-one years that PASA has been organizing this event, with increasing diversity and recent spikes in the number young and female growers/members of the organization. Even kids share a notable presence at the conference and I sat next to an attentive ten year old beekeeper in one workshop.
Making a few Sustainable Purchases at the Conference
Vendors that I enjoyed visiting with during the conference included the folks from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Brushy Mountain Bee Supply, Organic Mechanics Soil Company, High Mowing Seeds, Hardscrabble Mushrooms, and Peace Tree Seeds.
Thanks to Purple Mountain Organics I was even able to purchase a new Broadfork to make prepping the raised garden beds a bit easier and quicker. Other purchases included a book on growing winter vegetables and recordings from workshops that I couldn’t attend but was interested in listening to.
Other Lectures and Sounds Heard during the PASA Event
The conference also provided opportunity to hear experts like Sam Comfort, the renegade beekeeper at Anarchy Apiaries, Juliette Jones and Phil Forsyth who spoke about an Urban Food Forest project, and Shannon Hayes, author of “The Grassfed Gourmet” and “Farmer and the Grill,” who provided an inspiring keynote speech.
In the hallways between sessions I heard a familiar voice and turned to see Laura Mathews, a partner here and the creator of Punk Rock Gardens. I didn’t expect to run into her at the conference but it was no surprise to discover that she was tweeting snippets of the event as she covered the various workshops! Those were the some of the sounds during the weekend and here are a few of the sights to be seen at PASA this year:
Photos from the PASA Farming for the Future Conference
These sights and sounds don’t provide the complete picture of what a PASA Conference is all about, but if you have an interest in organic gardening or sustainable agriculture it is a perfect place to be. Next year the 22nd annual Farming for the Future Conference will be held in State College again from February 6 – 9, 2013.