Sustainable Food and Farm Conference Successes, Thanks to Local Farmers and Food Enthusiasts

JM on stage - photo by Jarratt MoodyThe Nevada County Sustainable Food and Farm Conference, now in its 6th year, launched from a grass roots event organized by Dennis MacDonneil in 2010 to a networking event hosted by Sierra Harvest that drew over 530 attendees this year, with 20 sold-out workshops about food, farming, and all things related. This was the first year that Sierra Harvest acted as the official event organizer, and we are extremely grateful to all of the people who volunteered to make the event a success – we couldn’t do it without you!

Some of the key organizers over the years have been Patty and Rob Bielen and their kids of Back to Basics Farm, Brad and Alana Fowler of Fowler Family Farm and their girls, Sierra Harvest’s Malaika Bishop and a few other farmers who always come and pitch in to make the conference happen. The conference wouldn’t have continued if it weren’t for these two below.

Cathe’ Fish has been working with the conference since the beginning, and her favorite aspect of the conference is the speakers: “I just love these leading-edge speakers coming to us talking about ways to grow food healthier and more sustainably. It’s really thrilling to be an emcee and look out at 500 people and realize that they are really touched by what you and your cohorts are doing. It’s a great contribution to our community.” This year Cathe’ helped to get three knowledgeable keynote speakers on the agenda: Paul Stamets, an author and mushroom scientist who talked about how mushrooms can restore our eco-system, and two farmers: Gabe Brown, who talked about how his family farm successfully builds soil health with an integrated s animal and crop mix, and Jean-Martin Fortier, a well-known author who is famous for making a six-figure salary as a farmer with only one and half acres and no tractor.

Eric Dickerson has also been with the conference since the beginning — this was the first year that he spent less than 300 hours volunteering. Eric is a jack of all trades, but the theme that weaves through all of the jobs he has done is farming. He couldn’t stay away completely – he did the graphic design work , helped with the audio visual and introduced speakers at this year’s conference. And he got to enjoy being a participant! Eric’s favorite part is the networking: “I think having a strong and vibrant local food culture including farmers and local food enthusiasts is really important. Having a group of people to learn farming skills from is really important if you want to have food security in your community. The Sustainable Food and Farm Conference is a gathering place for all of these people to get in touch with each other, learn from the workshops and also learn from each other. Every year I grow my network – this year we met the lady from Wheyward Girl Creamery – just when we needed a mentor to take our cheese making to the next level.”

We hope you will join us at next year’s Sustainable Food and Farm Conference. Save the dates Jan 6-8, 2017.