February 7, 2012

NOFA Winter Conference

This year's winter conference held by the Northward Organic Farmers Association in Saratoga Springs was an exciting time for Windflower. We received a farm scholarship that allowed our workers to fill the conference weekend with the classes of our choice. There was a wide range of topics covered, from raising livestock to medicinal herbs as well as homesteading skills and growing hops. They kept us well-fed with organic foods donated by dozens of local farms and businesses. It was cold outside, but no snow like last year.

I specifically enjoyed my class on using a European scythe. Great fun! The demonstration includedin learning to use the smithing tools necessary for sharpening the blade and how to work in a group to get a hole field done. Now, I'll admit that I'd rather mow a field with a tractor, but just collecting all these bits of old-fashioned knowledge thrills me. I own a lot of old tools and have them because I know how to use them. Maybe I can add a scythe to my collection soon!

NOFA is also a fun place to meet people. I enjoyed my meals with various farmers (including a mushroom grower who appeared in the Fall publication of Edible East End) We shared laughs, ideas and coffee, then parted ways for more classes. Even with all those people I ended up meeting a guy who long ago worked for Ted when he was in business with a farm down the road. It was only a year before my time there, but we had tons to talk about. Like most if the conference attendees, he was there with the prospect of starting his own farm, and NOFA has sort of a stereotype that a farmer is someone who owns a farm. I chatted with him about my philosophy of who a farmer really is and he seemed encouraged knowing that he didn't necessarily have to invest everything he owned in a piece of land just to earn the title of farmer. My husband is an electrician that works for a company, but he's still an electrician. Owning a company or business isn't what makes your proffesion. I've worked on Windflower for seven years; I'm a farmer. And without second class farmers there would be a shortage of skilled workers and farms could never grow the way our vegetables do.

1 comment:

  1. The scythe class was great- can't wait to harvest my beer, err...rye! (Thinking too far ahead again)

    Cheers to the idea of viewing farming as a profession, even outside of 'ownership.' Sometimes you can get the impression in the farming world that everyone is an owner, or an apprentice yearning to be an owner, and this leads to lots of small, struggling farms that have difficulty producing a living for their "owners" (really, the farm owns them at this point). Farming can be a trade, with a middle class of people who are not just unmotivated temporary help, or the person in charge, but simply skilled, educated tradespeople. No reason it can't work!

    (and God help you if you say that farming is unskilled labor! :)