The MOSES Organic Farming Conference (OFC), the largest organic farming conference in North America, saw another record year of attendance with just under 3,000 organic farmers, agriculture professionals, market gardeners, and others interested in organic agriculture.
Held in La Crosse, Wis., Feb. 24-26, the 22nd annual OFC featured more than 70 informative organic farming workshops, over 150 exhibitors of products and services for the organic community, and nine all-day intensive Organic University courses. Attendees came from across the United States as well as Latin America, Haiti, England, Canada, France and Germany.
“Twelve years ago, when we moved our small, regional conference to La Crosse, we never imagined a level of interest in organic farming that would lead to some 3,000 people attending the conference,” said Chris Blanchard, co-director of the OFC.
“We’re proud to provide an opportunity for education and networking that has helped the organic industry and movement, grow to its current role in the food system.”
Highlights from the 2011 conference include:
• MOSES Organic Farmer of the Year Award was presented to the Vetter Family of The Grain Place, in Marquette, Neb. The Vetter Family runs a diversified grain farm and related grain processing business. The Vetters were pioneers of organic production in Nebraska and have a deep, spiritual relationship to the land.
• This year, MOSES and Renewing the Countryside introduced the Young Organic Stewards program to the Organic Farming Conference to address the needs of young aspiring farmers, and lay the foundation for the next generation of sustainable and organic agriculture. The program consisted of targeted workshops aimed to help youth overcome the barriers to entering the organic farm marketplace- as well as social activities to foster networking and camaraderie among the bright and talented group of future farmers at the OFC.
• Two keynote speakers were featured at the Organic Farming Conference. Urvashi Rangan, Director of Technical Policy for Consumers Union, discussed the increased public awareness of how our food is grown and how consumers can decipher food labels, which can be confusing. Tom Stearns, founder of Vermont-based High Mowing Seeds, focused on the need to build healthier, regional food systems through collaboration among farmers, businesses and their communities.
The annual MOSES Organic Farming Conference is a primary source for organic farmer networking, training and resource services in the Midwest.
More information on the event, including links to YouTube clips at www.mosesorganic.org