During the spring, summer and fall farm seasons it is easy for farmers to lose touch with one another. Everyone get really busy and conversations tend to be focused on immediate needs like engines failing, extreme weather forecasts or what local chefs need now.
Winter is when farmers have time to plan, think, dream and socialize. Many of us are ordering seeds, planning upcoming seasons, adjusting websites and doing bigger picture thinking and planning.
Winter is also the most popular time for farmers to get together for meetings. Maryland farmers gathered for two important meetings this past month, the Future Harvest CASA annual meeting in College Park in January, and yesterday’s Maryland Organic Food and Farming Winter meeting in Annapolis. Both meetings were packed with educational sessions for farmers and consumers interested in supporting local and organic agriculture. I was able to present at both meetings about our SARE grant for dehydrating vegetables on our farm. Other speakers covered pressing issues like GMO labeling, the Food Safety Modernization act and food justice and equity issues.
Similar meetings are happening across the country and offer all sorts of opportunities to learn, be inspired and connect with people from all parts of the food and farming scene. These gatherings offer an important chance for farmers to pause and realize we are part of a much bigger effort. Of course there is so much more to do and I think we are still in the early stages of building the kind of farmer-led national sustainable agriculture movement we need. But lots of people are working on it! There is still time to find similar meetings taking place in the next few weeks in other parts of the country, maybe you will get a chance to participate in one too