Here's some farm world lingo for you, "conference season". You're probably used to hearing tomato season or broccoli season, right? That's the whole deal with eating from a CSA, every vegetable has its time to shine based on temperature and sunlight and whether it prefers long hot days or chilly mornings and slow growth.
Farming conferences have a "season", especially around here where winter limits how productive farms can be. This is a time when most farmers are not growing a lot, not going to markets as frequently or at all, and when we're all planning for our year ahead. Thus it becomes the perfect time for gathering with our fellow growers and producers to talk all things farming!
We here at One Acre Farm had two conferences in January and wanted to give a little report about what we learned.
The first was Future Harvest's yearly conference, their 24th annual! Farmers and others involved in the agriculture world from around the Chesapeake region gathered in the University of Maryland's hotel for 2 days. It had been 3 years since this conference could be held in person due to COVID so it felt good to be surrounded by the ag community and learn together.
We heard from fantastic keynote speakers, attended breakout sessions, and ate good, local food together. The sessions' topics ranged from financial preparedness to seed saving and from food safety to conflict resolution and everything else in between. There were over 30 sessions all together and only 3 of us to attend them so there were tough decisions to be made!
Networking and meeting new people was of course a big part of the event as well. Finding people who grow food like you do is always uplifting and finding folks who work in agriculture in an entirely different way is invigorating and always leads to good conversations.
We came away from it with better crew management systems in mind, ideas for soil amendments, and new food safety plan management. And of course, new friends!
Our second conference of the season we hosted right here at One Acre Farm. Designed for a much more specific group of people, this was a gathering of farmers from Montgomery County (MoCo). This was our second annual MoCo Farmer Conference and covered topics such as ethnically diverse crops, how to price your products, and what kinds of grants and funding are available and how to find them.
This was on a much smaller scale, but left us feeling just as enlightened and encouraged for the year ahead. Our farming community is tight-knit and there always seems to be someone out there who has an answer to your question or an idea to help resolve your problem.
It feels so good to gather with your community, whether it be farming folks, a neighborhood group or an exercise class. Especially so in this cold and dark season. Hurrah for conference season to help cheer us up and give us the boost we needed to make this upcoming veggie season the best it can be!
Thanks for being a part of our OAF community!