Like farmers during the growing season, "conference season" keeps us technical assistance and service providers quite busy. Over the past two weekends I attended one day of the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) annual meeting in Saratoga, NY as well as a full weekend of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont's (NOFA-VT) annual winter conference.
The two events were similar in some regards but generally quite distinct.
NESAWG is geared to the interests of service providers, policy analysts, advocacy organizations and other non-profits, government agencies, and certain for-profit companies who are closely linked with the food system and sustainable agriculture.
NOFA-VT is a conference for farmers, home gardeners, kids, ag-enthusiasts, as well as for the groups included in NESAWG.
I had a blast at NOFA-VT. There were many informative workshops to go to and a great many people to meet and network with. I learned about pasturing pigs, starting a micro-dairy, and I buckled down in a double session focused on farm to institution. My favorite part of the conference however was New Farmer Coaching. New Farmer Coaching was offered through the New Farmer Network. The Network includes partners from UVM-Extension, Vital Communities/Valley Farm & Food, NOFA-VT, the Intervale Center and yours truly, RAFFL.
At the conference I coached five new farmers from different parts of Vermont and Eastern New York. These new farmers were varied, of all ages and with diverse interests and backgrounds. It was great getting to know a bit about their start-up operations during our 45-minute sessions and then helping them to develop learning plans; creating goals and action steps to help them on their way to becoming successful and happy new farmers.
If you are a new farmer in the Rutland region (including Bennington County) and feel like you could benefit from some one-on-one coaching just give me a shout and we can set up a time to talk. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.