This week marks the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture’s 22nd Annual Farming for the Future Conference in St. College PA. I’ve attended the last seven or eight gatherings and it’s always a great event with plenty of activities for everyone from farmers to backyard gardeners.
“Starting Fresh, Starting Local, Starting Now” is the theme for this year’s conference and references the reforms that are needed to ensure that our food production systems will be successful and supply nutritious, high quality foods to our communities! While the conference is geared towards sustainable farmers, there is plenty to interest consumers, home gardeners, food distributors, and anyone concerned about the quality of our food supply.
Pre-Conference Educational Programs
The conference kicked off today with a couple of pre-conference tracks, one focused on new and beginning farmers, and the other covering animal feed and forage. Tomorrow adds about a dozen additional tracks covering areas such as beekeeping, foraging and growing forest products, cheese making techniques, and the impact and alternatives of genetic engineering.
The main portion of the conference takes place on Friday and Saturday and includes two keynote speakers, a wide range of sustainable agriculture workshops, and an assortment of vendors providing ideas and products to assist in the garden or on the farm. Children are not only welcomed but there are specific programs and activities designed to include them in the fun and learning related to sustainable farming and gardening.
Line Up of Sustainable Agriculture Workshops
With over 100 individual workshops on tap it shouldn’t be difficult to find sessions that will catch your interest and provide new information or skills that can be applied back home in your own garden or landscape.
Here is a sample of the type of workshops that you’ll have to choose from:
- Birds of a Feather: Backyard Poultry Basics
- Practical Tools for the Farm & Garden
- Uncommon Fruits with Market Potential
- Mineral Nutrition of Healthy Plants
- Adding Wild Edible Plants to Your Farm-Based Business
- Blueberries, Planting to Harvest
- Plant-Based Healing: Crafting Herbal Salves
- Making & Using Charcoal to Enhance Soil Quality & More
- Pruning Fruit Trees, Shrubs & Vines
- Farming & Gardening to Conserve Native Pollinators
Other Farming for the Future Conference Activities
There will also be sustainable agriculture vendors on site offering everything from tools and powered equipment, to books, seeds, farm and garden supplies, and more. Other activities include a seed swap, exercise sessions, movie screenings, and live music entertainment.
If you find yourself hungry during the conference optional meals include a Social Hour Reception, a Thursday evening Winter Picnic, and a Banquet Dinner on Friday evening, all featuring sustainably and organically raised foods. The Farmer’s Market Café is also open during the conference offering an assortment of sandwiches, salads, snacks, and desserts.
For more details and information on this year’s Farming for the Future Conference you can visit the PASA Farming website at http://conference.pasafarming.org/.