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Northeast Organic Farming Association Winter Conference 2016 | Great Performances


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Northeast Organic Farming Association Winter Conference 2016
Company News
by Suzannah Schneider, Sustainability Connector

Photo courtesy of NOFA

While you all were cooking, drinking, eating, and finding some true relaxation during the great blizzard of January 2016, I completely missed out on the snow-related fun! I was dispatched upstate to Saratoga Springs for a phenomenal organic farming conference. There were no flurries up there, but I still enjoyed a fantastic weekend.

The Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) is an organization of farmers and consumers that has been creating a better food system since 1983. The group has two main functions: they have a USDA-accredited organic certification system (under which Katchkie Farm is certified!), and they advocate for a more sustainable food system in New York State and beyond.

Photo courtesy of NOFA

Photo courtesy of NOFA

NOFA has been holding their Winter Conference for 34 years. This year’s conference had nearly 1,000 attendees and close to 100 workshops and lectures! I was overwhelmed with opportunities to get geeky about farming. Other conference perks included bountiful breakfast and lunch buffets made with local ingredients, a robust trade show, and a Saturday night contra dance party. There was also plenty of time to meet other farmers and CSA Coordinators. I even met another Suzannah! A rare occurrence.

Photo courtesy of NOFA

I learned about everything from farmworker justice to storytelling to on-farm ecosystem services. It was an excellent weekend to get energized and organized for the looming growing season. Below are a few takeaways from the workshops I attended:

- Trees and perennial plants are amazing agricultural tactics to draw carbon out of the atmosphere.

- The NOFA organic certification is an overwhelmingly thorough process. This is great news! It’s an honor to adhere to such a stringent system for better agriculture.

- This was a record year for NOFA! The organization certified 795 producers in 2015.

- Mediation can be a really useful tool for farmers of all levels.

- New York City public schools buy more food than any other entity in the country, other than the military.

…And when my brain was starting to feel stuffed, I was happy to retreat to my hotel room for truly gourmet sustenance.

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