News and Notes from OEFFA
I presented and attended the 33rd annual conference of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) conference last Saturday and Sunday. The conference was inspiring, educational, and fun. I loved learning from experienced growers, meeting new and old foodie friends, and strolling the exhibit hall to learn what's happening.
In the coming weeks I hope to summarize the workshops I attended in more detail. Some news from the weekend is too timely not to share first:
- I work on a committee that sources as many ingredients as possible locally for amazing organic conference meals. I will probably write a whole post about what goes into making the OEFFA conference meals. In the meantime, I owe appreciation to the food donors I helped recruit: Luna Burgers, Swainway Urban Farm mushrooms and sprouts, and Glad Annie's Baklava. Thank you very much!
- Earthineer, a social site for sustainable living, is a growing community of farmers and homesteaders. Join thousands of other farmers and homesteaders to find support for your earth-conscious lifestyle. Signup before June 3rd for a chance to win a Model No. 99 Grainmaker grain mill.
- I chatted with Annie and Jay Warmke from Blue Rock Station in the exhibitor hall one afternoon. Jay showed me their straw bale plans for this year; an intern designed the most sustainable awesome restroom in the world. Registration is now open for the Straw Bale Building Workshops that will construct the restroom. Blue Rock offers workshops throughout the year on everything from Green technology to cheese making.
- Michigan State University offers an Organic Farmer Training Program. If I were considering organic farming as a career, this 9 month course sounds ideal. Applications for the 2013 cohort are reviewed in July.
- Woody Tasch gave the keynote address on Saturday afternoon. He is an investment executive turned Slow Money guru. Though his talk was unrehearsed and a bit chaotic, Tasch charmed me and the rest of the crowd. I imagine I am not the only OEFFA attendee who signed the Slow Money Alliance pledge and am considering the goal for one million people to invest 1% of their money in local food systems, within a decade.
- I was drawn into the Women Farm table in the exhibit hall by the bright colors. Sharon Sachs, co-owner, kept me there as she excitedly talked about the women-to-women educational mission of her organization. In addition to individual consultations and inspiring stories on the web, Women Farm offers Direct Experience Instruction events where small groups of women can gather and learn from a woman farmer. If you are a lady wanting to learn by doing, check out Women Farm.
- This year, I can't wait to attend my first Chesterhill Produce Auction. At lunch one day, I met Bob Fedyski, Local/Institutional Foods Specialist of Rural Action, the managing agency. He encouraged me to come for the cultural experience and the varied produce lots. The auction season starts May 5th with an open house and continues on most Mondays and Thursdays through October 25. Field trip anyone?
If you attended, what were your impressions and takeaways? If you didn't, what do you want to hear more about?
NB: On Monday, I shared notes from one of my talks, Food is Social: How to use New Media to Promote Your Food Business.