Agriculture Conference Staves Off Winter Blues

Vermont’s organic farmers association offers workshops and more to people searching for information and a chance to network.

| January/February 2010

While late fall and early winter provide a much needed respite from the rigors of outdoor work, by late January or early February, people who love to work the soil with their hands are getting antsy. And in some northern climates, it’s still months before any tilling or planting can begin.

The Northeastern Organic Farmers Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) has found mid-February to be the perfect time to offer a three-day winter conference. The event, held the past 27 years, combines keynote addresses, general and intensive workshops, a farmers’ market and exhibition area, a silent auction, entertainment by local musicians, and an eclectic lunch of local and organic foods. At the accompanying Children’s Conference, 6- to 12-year-olds can explore food, crafts, farming, animals and the environment.

In 2010, after years of growth, the conference will move to the University of Vermont in Burlington for the weekend of February 13 to 15.

Kirsten Bower has worked for NOFA-VT for more than 20 years. During that time, she has assisted in the intensive work required to host the mid-winter conference.

“The conference has grown from a one-day event with 625 attendees in 1999 to a three-day event with 1,350 attendees in 2009,” Bower says. Specialized tracts, which serve the needs of experienced farmers, newbie farmers, gardeners and consumers, are an important part of the NOFA-VT winter conference.

Olga Boshart, NOFA-VT’s winter conference coordinator, says the interaction between seasoned and new farmers, homesteaders and gardeners is one of the most important elements of the conference.

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