“Events like this help remind and inform us what is going on in the wider world, inspiring new ideas and projects.”
“It has made me feel that it is possible to make a living in farming – which I was very much doubting before the event.”
“I have not been very successful as a gardener up till now but I am INSPIRED!!!”
That’s what a few of the 530 participants had to say about this year’s Sustainable Food & Farm Conference. This year’s event was bigger than ever, attracting farmers, homesteaders, and food lovers from across the nation interested in learning agricultural techniques that inherently add to the health and fertility of the planet. The conference kicked off with a tour of four unique local farms, where participants could see first hand how local farmers are incorporating sustainable practices to ranching, vegetable crops and mushroom cultivation.
On Saturday, Jean-Martin Fortier began the conference by sharing how he developed techniques and strategies for being a successful market gardener, using intensive planting methods on just 1.5 acre, without a tractor and using compost as his main input. Gabe Brown, a conventional rancher who hit rock bottom, shared how he walked away from chemical fertilizers and turned to nature to look for ways to regenerate the soil fertility of his family ranch lands. He showed how his no-till ranching increased the water holding capacity of his soil from 1/2inch to 9 inches and how his soil organic matter rose to levels higher than the native prairie his ranch replaced. Paul Stamets told the incredible stories about the healing properties of mushrooms and his amazing discovery of mushroom cures for colony collapse disorder in honey bees.
On Sunday, the crowd gathered again to learn from regional experts on a number of practical topics, including compost making, beekeeping, how to sell wholesale, and more.
While the conference appeared to be a great success with lots of inspired attendees, our post-event evaluations show the real impact of events like these to our community:
- 94% of attendees were inspired to implement new sustainable techniques or strategies on their farm or garden
- 98% of farmers received tools to support them in improving or starting a farm business
- 94% of home gardeners felt more confident growing or raising their own food.
Thanks to the financial support we received from our sponsor and vendors, 85 farmers received a 65% discount on tuition, making it possible for many of them to attend and learn new, sustainable techniques they can apply to local farms. We couldn’t offer these discounts, or keep the regular fees so reasonably priced without out our generous sponsors!
We are also grateful for our amazing team of 30+ volunteers that help make it all happen and having it run so smoothly.
Lastly, we like to say congratulations to two very special winners at the conference! Ira Hendrix from Cool, California won a beautiful 6 x 8 redwood greenhouse, donated by Peaceful Valley, and Pabby Bennett from Grass Valley won free tickets to next year’s conference by filling out the farm conference survey.
Next year’s conference is already in the works – we will keep you posted as details are confirmed!