Celebrating our agricultural roots February 16th-18th at the University of Vermont in Burlington
Burlington, VT – The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) is pleased to invite farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, food activists, and enthusiastic eaters to our annual Winter Conference. During a time when the future of food and organic farming faces many uncertainties, we invite you to come together around hope and momentum toward building the food system that you want to be a part of. NOFA-VT’s hope is that this conference will inspire us to think and talk together about the key role food and agriculture play as a tool for social change, as well as spend time honoring all of our agricultural roots as a critical piece of working together toward a just food system.
This year’s conference theme, Food Traditions: Celebrating Our Agricultural Roots, highlights those who came before us by honoring the history of land-use in Vermont. We will highlight the role of all people working the land past and present, as well as the whole community currently committed to food production in Vermont. This awareness and interconnectedness provides strength as we reflect on the past and look to the future of agriculture.
Two notable keynote speakers will respond to our theme: Leah Penniman, a Black Kreyol educator, farmer/peyizan, author, and food justice activist from Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York, will speak on Saturday. Melody Walker Brook, Abenaki educator, activist, artist, and UVM alumni from Highgate, Vermont, addresses conference attendees on Sunday.
Drawing on twenty years of tending the soil, Leah will share her farming wisdom and her experience at Soul Fire Farm, where she and the farm team are working to end racism and injustice in the food system. “What drives me to do the work is having personally experienced—and also witnessed in others—the healing connection when people get to have a dignified relationship with land,” Leah said. “To see that kind of impact is very motivating.”
Leah will invite us to join in this work by learning how we all can be part of the movement for food sovereignty and help build a food system based on justice, dignity, and abundance for all members of our community.
In her address on Sunday, Melody will invite us to honor those who came before us, reminding us that the past is an integral part of our future. She will be joined by the Alnôbaiwi Dance Group, scheduled to perform sacred dances from the Abenaki calendar. Together, they will highlight the important role of the Abenaki community as the beginning of Vermont’s rich agricultural history.
The NOFA-VT Winter Conference offers more than 80 workshops and panel discussions for farmers, gardeners, and local food enthusiasts. Some of the most anticipated workshops include: “Managing High Tunnel Soil Fertility” taught by Vern Grubinger of the UVM Extension, “Action Planning to Uproot Racism in the Food System” presented by Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm, and “The Language Plants Use: Molecular Signals and Behavior Response” taught by Guido Masé of the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism and Urban Moonshine.
There are also four day-long “Monday Intensive” workshops, diving deeply into the topics of ‘Sourdough Bread Baking,’ ‘No-Till Vegetables’, ‘Business Branding and Marketing,’ and ‘Finding Your Inner Activist.’
In addition to the speeches and workshops, attendees at the conference can enjoy a delicious lunch featuring local and organic ingredients, explore the lively Exhibitors’ Fair, participate in a seed swap with High Mowing organic seeds, and help to create a community art project with artist, Bonnie Acker. For the next generation of farmers, gardeners, and foodies there is a Children’s Conference, which features hands-on workshops, outdoor play and more.
Attendees are encouraged to invite colleagues and friends to join in for Saturday evening events including a social at the Davis Center with a cash bar, a film screening of Modified and follow-up panel discussion ($5 suggested donation), and another year of the Saturday Night Meet-Up at Hotel Vermont with Slow Food Vermont and the Vermont Young Farmers Coalition. There will be another delicious ice cream social on Sunday evening to round out the weekend including a raffle drawing for beautiful oil paintings donated by community artist, Bonnie Acker. This year’s conference also includes a handful of exciting new offerings such as a Wellness Fair scheduled for Sunday morning with reiki, massage, and herbal consultations.
Early registration for the conference is offered at a discounted rate until February 11th, with additional discounts for NOFA-VT members and volunteers. More information and online registration is at http://nofavt.org/conference.
About Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont: NOFA Vermont is member-based organization working to grow local farms, healthy food, and strong communities in Vermont. Our members are farmers, gardeners, educators and food lovers of all sorts – anyone who wants to help us create a future full of local food and local farms. Our programs include farmer and gardener technical assistance, farm to school support, organic certification, advocacy, an online apprentice and farm worker directory, an annual Winter Conference, and programs that work to ensure access to fresh, local food to all Vermonters, regardless of income.