Upon entering the 2013 NOFA Winter Conference, a pleasant aroma of earthy fragrances greeted me at the door. Fascination took hold of me, as I comprehended the organic sanctuary before me. As a NOFA Conference newbie, I attended with an open mind (and palate), and a desire to immerse myself in the world of agriculture and localvores. A range of foodies milling about boasted a generous diversity of farmers, college students, localvores, gardeners, and scientists, all breathing inspiration. Behind the heaps of the Carhart, flannels, and my personal favorite, scruffy faced attendees, an underlying connection buzzed among conversations and demonstrations. A passion for innovation and sustainability, with a hunger for knowledge. Among this crowd of curious individuals, each person contributed their own unique form of expertise to the NOFA experience. A space created for researchers to bridge the gap with a vegetable farmer, or a homesteader to learn the tricks of the trade from a pro was truly a beautiful thing. Business owners mingled with inquisitive locals, including the owners of CowPots, a business that makes plantable pots out of composted cow manure. With the entire family present, they nearly convinced me to join the family business on a trip to the field of cowpies.
Lunchtime once again activated my senses with the hearty local tastes of steamy Sheppard’s pie and unique flavors of white bean cassoulet. The meal would not have been complete without a round of apple crisp to satisfy my sweet tooth. Sitting amongst new and old friends, toes tapped to the “soulgrass” tunes of guitar strumming, box drumming group Rootybagas. Attendees enjoyed a warm lunch atmosphere with few moments of silence. A conference bursting with scents, sounds, flavors and most importantly dialogue.
Guest blogger: Laura Friedland