Category Archives: Winter Conference

Growing the Good Food Movement: Reflections on Winter Conference 2015

The 33rd Annual NOFA Vermont Winter Conference was held February 14-16 at the University of Vermont (UVM) in Burlington. “Growing the Good Food Movement” brought together organic farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, and consumers for 3 days of workshops, keynotes, singing, feasting, and mid-winter blues bashing. We hope you will enjoy these photos from the Conference. And please be sure to join us next year (we’re already planning the 2016 Conference)! Photos by Ali Zipparo

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Story and Poetry Slam to Highlight Sunday Morning’s Conference

33rd Annual NOFA Vermont Winter Conference
February 14-16, 2015
University of Vermont, Burlington

Inspired by the revitalization of storytelling in Vermont and beyond, we’re opening our keynote stage on Sunday morning for a Story and Poetry Slam.

We invite you (yes, you!) to submit a story or poem to be considered for inclusion in the slam.

The theme for stories and poems is Growing the Good Food Movement. Tell us a specific story or read us a poem about how you have experienced or are addressing farm or food equity, race, class, farm worker rights, or food sovereignty in your work or life.

To submit your story or poem, call the NOFA Vermont office at 802-434-4122 and ask to be connected to extension 30. Leave a message telling us your story or poem (be sure to include your name and how we can reach you)!

Laura Brown-Lavoie
Laura Brown-Lavoie, farmer, poet, performer, and youth mentor

Stories and poems must be 5 minutes or shorter.

Deadline for submissions is January 15.

Submissions will be reviewed by our winter conference planning team and the 5 storytellers will be notified by February 1.

Hosting the Story and Poetry Slam (and performing, as well) will be Laura Brown-Lavoie. Laura is a farmer, poet, performer, and youth mentor in Providence, RI, who describes herself as,  “A farmer with a pen clipped to her beltloop. A poet with leaves in my hair… Out in the field between rows of tomatoes, the sun is past noon and there is a poem coming. Poems, they get sweated out of me. Born, like we all are, of physical labor, of sunlight and rain.”

You can follow Laura’s blog at http://lauralambbrownlavoie.wordpress.com/

Keynote Speaker Announced!

33rd Annual Winter Conference February 14-16, 2015 University of Vermont, BurlingtonNatasha Bowens

Traveling the country, storyteller and photographer Natasha Bowens collected stories from farmers and food activists of color. These accounts are collected in her new beautiful book, The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience and Farming, highlighting important issues of food justice and food sovereignty. We knew right away that she would speak powerfully and eloquently to the theme of our 33rd Annual Winter Conference, Growing the Good Food Movement. Blending storytelling, photography and oral history, Natasha’s Saturday morning keynote address will show how true food sovereignty means a place at the table for everyone. Natasha writes:

“[Race and food] are two pillars of society that are deeply etched with injustice. From seed to table, the corporate-controlled food industry in this country is rife with discrimination, oppression and the denial of rights. Rights to healthy food, rights to land, rights to a clean environment, and rights to an equal opportunity for success and livelihood for farmers are not fairly attainable. One problem is that the people who control this broken food system do not represent the most impacted communities: women and communities of color and low income. Another problem is that the “food movement” community is usually racially and economically exclusive which just perpetuates the cycle. Such topics as racial health disparities, “food deserts” and “food justice” have rapidly come into the limelight lacking any input at all from the communities being spoken for.  If we cannot see and hear from our communities, we will not have a food system free of racial inequities”

Read more about The Color of Food and Natasha’s work at browngirlfarming.com

Direct Marketing workshops to be combined into Winter Conference

As we are gearing up for our winter educational offerings, we wanted to share that we have decided to not host a Direct Marketing Conference in 2015. Instead, based on feedback from past Winter Conferences, we will offer more direct marketing workshops in our commercial farmer track at the 2015 Winter Conference. These workshops will focus on issues relevant to farmers’ market vendors, and CSA and farm stand farmers. We hope that by re-combining these two conferences, more of you will be able to benefit from the workshops that have been spread out between two conferences in the past!

UVM's Davis Center serves as the conference hub. (Credit Elizabeth Ferry)The Request for Proposals (RFP) for Winter Conference workshops is currently open through September 15, 2014.

Even if you don’t have a workshop you would like to present yourself, we are also looking for feedback on specific workshops or presenters that you’d like us to consider for the 2015 Winter Conference. If you have ideas or suggestions, please contact our new Education Coordinator, Rachel Fussell as soon as possible, with a deadline of September 15th.

You may have noticed that I didn’t mention farmers’ market organizers in my workshop audience list above. We haven’t forgotten you! We will be collaborating with the Vermont Farmers’ Market Association (VTFMA) to host a day of workshops and the VTFMA Annual Meeting in March 2015. We will be sending more information later this fall on that event so please be on the lookout!

Lastly, we are looking forward to hearing from you after the Winter Conference about how this new set-up worked for you. While nine years ago we started a separate Direct Marketing Conference in order to accommodate more attendees when space at the Winter Conference venues was our major limiting factor, we are excited to again try to meet your needs by bringing the two conferences back together now that space is not an issue. Your feedback will help us determine if this is the best option moving forward or if we need to look at additional possibilities.

We look forward to hearing from you!

[By Erin Buckwalter,  Market Development and Community Food Security Coordinator]

“Organic Matters” film debut at the Conference!

We are exited to debut our new short film, Organic Matters, as part of the NOFA Vermont Winter Conference FarmsTED talks this morning! If you didn’t join us to watch it on the big screen in the Davis Center (or if you just want to watch it again!), take a look:

This 9-minute video features certified organic farmers across Vermont talking about why they believe in certified organic, how it defines their approach to their land and to food production, and why organic is important to the overall food movement.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of certified organic, locally grown!

Children’s Conference – Space & Scholarships Available!

There are still openings for youth ages 6-12 at our Children’s Conference this weekend! The Children’s Conference happens at the University of Vermont, simultaneously to the adult conference, but you don’t have to be an adult attendee at the Winter Conference in order to send your child.

Full scholarships are available!

The Children's Conference is a great way to spend a wintry weekend.The conference is a great opportunity for kids to work with wool, participate in a community art project with Bonnie Acker, create songs with Chris Dorman of Bread and Butter Farm, and go on outside adventures with Earth Walk.

Click here for more information and to see our proposed schedule.

To register, contact Coordinator Lauren Lenz at laurenlenz@gmail.com or (603) 359-3160.  Walk-in registrations are welcome for both the children and adult conference.

Milk Quality & Mastitis Part II: Treatment

This article is part of the NOFA Vermont Dairy and Livestock Technical Assistance Program.

Click here to jump to our Winter Conference offerings for dairy and livestock farmers.

Silhouette of three cowsWe recently shared some resources for mastitis prevention. But what to do when cows do get a clinical or subclinical udder infection?

Subclinical mastitis can show up as an increase in the SCC (somatic cell count) without visual signs of mastitis. Clinical mastitis will include visual changes in the milk or udder swelling.

When a cow has clinical mastitis, treatment suggestions that Dr. Guy Jodarski, staff veterinarian for Organic  Valley/CROPP Cooperative, discussed in a recent webinar include:

  • frequent stripping
  • vitamin & mineral supplements
  • allowed synthetics including fluids, aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs
  • biologics (such as immunoboost) and vaccines
  • herbs including antibacterial tinctures
  • topicals (essential oils)
  • whey products – made from colostrum
  • antioxidants
  • homeopathy

Some synthetic medications are allowed for use on organic livestock; for acute mastitis cases these include Banamine (Flunixin) and aspirin. Electrolytes (such as CMPK or hypertonic saline), along with injectable vitamins, are also used by some veterinarians.

Before treating an animal, check the 2014 Organic Livestock Healthcare List or contact the VOF certification office to be sure the treatment is approved for use. It is important to keep records of what treatments are used, and to withhold milk when required by the organic standards.

As there’s no single silver bullet treatment for mastitis, each farm will find a few products from this list that work for their management system.

A good relationship with the veterinarian can make being  certified organic easier! Your veterinarian can help you  understand what treatments to use, develop a better prevention plan, and keep better records.

For more information on organic production, herd health, and other technical assistance available from NOFA Vermont, contact Sam Fuller, Program Coordinator, at 802-434-4122 or sam@nofavt.org.

Dairy & Livestock at the Winter Conference

Join us for an advanced commercial dairy & livestock track on Saturday, including:

Sunday also offers a diversity of workshop topics, including Efficient Swine Rationing from Piglet to Adult, Farm Labor: Strategies for Success with Your Employees, Market Research: How to Address Opportunities, Winter Lambing Procedure, and many more!

And on Monday, February 17th, join our all-day intensive:
Chicken Soup for the Soil: Building Nutrient-Dense Soil for Nutrient-Dense Crops with Jerry Brunetti,
Jack Lazor, and Heather Darby.

Homesteaders and Gardeners at the Winter Conference

The Winter Conference isn’t just for farmers – there are over 20 workshops this year designed with homesteaders and gardeners in mind! So whether you’re interested in getting the most produce possible out of your raised bed, or getting more fruit from your apple trees, the Winter Conference has you covered.

Saturday Workshop Spotlight: Hardy Nuts for Farms and Yards

Black WalnutsKeith Morris will be on hand to guide you through the ecology and mythology of nut trees suited to growing on Vermont’s farms and in our neighborhoods. Morris will focus on hardy proven nuts, and introduce the breeding and trialing happening at Willow Crossing Farm in Johnson, VT to help migrate some important nuts typically grown in slightly warmer regions.

Sunday Workshop Spotlight: Poultry Breeds and Brooder Set Up for the Backyard Producer

chickens2 It’s time to order those chirping wonders! Yet, those colorful, descriptive and plentiful poultry catalogs can be quite daunting. Join Bay Hammond, Farm Manager at Cerridwen Farm at Green Mountain College in Poultney, VT, and co-manager of Doolittle Farm in Shoreham VT to learn all about the different breed types, their benefits and shortcomings.

There are additional workshops and networking opportunities for cooks, activists, educators, and more. See the complete list of conference workshops here, and stay tuned for more workshop spotlights in the coming week!

Community and School Gardens at the Winter Conference

The NOFA-VT Winter Conference brings together organic growers and eaters from across the food system. One of the ways the Winter Conference attracts this diversity is through a Community and School Garden Track for garden organizers and educators, presented by the Vermont Community Garden Network, and happening this year on Sunday, February 16th.

NOFA, VCGN, NOFA-VT Winter ConferenceIn its 3rd year, this special track features interactive workshops throughout the day and a networking session over lunch time, bringing together the state’s community and school garden leaders to learn from each other as well as from local and regional experts.

This year’s workshops will focus on a range of topics requested by garden leaders from across the state.  Included among these are:

Over lunchtime, 1:00-2:00pm, participants are encouraged to attend the Vermont Community Garden Network Gathering and Garden Showcase.  This is an opportunity for garden leaders to connect, swap ideas, see innovative work from around the state, and learn more about upcoming Network opportunities.  Detailed information on track workshops and the networking session are available at http://vcgn.org/what-we-do/winterconference.

Vermont Community Garden Network logoVCGN’s partnership with NOFA Vermont supports an effort to reach community and school garden leaders from around the state and support the growth of successful garden projects.  The Community and School Garden Track at the Winter Conference is VCGN’s state-wide gathering of garden leaders, complimented by the VCGN Grow It! workshop series in regional Vermont locations in the spring and fall.  Year-round, VCGN offers technical support and online resources for garden organizers and educators.

The Vermont Community Garden Network is a non-profit organization that helps community and school groups all over Vermont start, sustain, and grow gardens, building strong local food systems and vibrant educational sites. To learn more about VCGN visit www.vcgn.org.

[Guest post by Libby Weiland of VCGN]