While the Northeast was digging out from Winter Storm Stella, NOFA-NY held their sixth annual conference at the Holiday Inn in Liverpool, NY. The conference was expanded to a two-day event, March 16 to 17, and featured many different seminars, discussions, and exhibitors.
Around 20 exhibitors were displayed in the trade show, ranging from value-added products to soil health. Many representatives were also present from numerous farming organizations, ready and willing to answer any type of question.
During the trade show, attendees had the option to choose the seminars they wished to attend. These seminars varied in topic but all related to organic and sustainable farming practices. Some seminars were of common topics, such as energy. Others were more selective like processing sheep milk into cheese. In all, there were over 16 different seminars during the two-day event.
One seminar which attracted interest was “Buckwheat: New Life for an Old Crop”, presented by Thomas Bjorkman of Cornell University and Brian McFetridge of Birkett Mills. The attendees were from all walks of life, from a hobbyist gardener to a man using buckwheat as a cover crop.
Animal health was also a topic as Guy Jodarski DVM, from CROPP Cooperative, presented on how to be proactive towards weaning, extended cow-calf pairing, and disease and parasite prevention. All his topics were addressed to maintaining health organically.
The keynote speaker was Jack Lazor, Butterworks Farm, VT. A self-appointed hippie, Lazor went into detail on how he grew his operation from just a few acres to stretching across the United States’ northern border. He also detailed the difficulties he had in diversifying from a cow production to crop and grain. Each step, however, was improved with the knowledge of increasing sustainability and staying as natural as possible.
Lauren Tonti, a representative and exhibitor for NOFA-NY, was present to answer any questions that a grower or producer might have in obtaining or sustaining their certified organic status. “This is a good place to be,” Tonti said. She continued to indicate the many organizations and programs, including those offered by NOFA-NY, to assist growers in becoming certified. “Organic farming is a different animal, so it takes relearning everything.” However, if a grower is already thinking of transitioning to organic, the battle is made a lot easier.
Although the date for the seventh annual NOFA-NY Conference has not been announced, it is sure to keep growing. The conference expanded from one day to two this year and averages over 100 attendees each year, with attendance growing.