Thursday, February 11, 2016

Farming For The Future


A young woman with a tablet computer approached me in the busy hallway at the Penn Stater Conference Center where I was spending the day at the 25th PASA Conference on Friday. Would I participate in a survey? I answered the requisite questions about my age, how many acres I farm and how I learned about the conference. I had to stop to think when she asked me how many conferences I had attended.

I remembered hearing Ben Hewitt telling me (among other things) that I need to remember that the the way you spend your time is the way you spend your life. His talk pointed me in the direction of his entertaining blog and his book "The Town That Food Saved."At the time, he was at work on his latest book, "Adventures in Parenting Off The Beaten Path, Unschooling and Reconnecting With The Natural World."

Daphne Miller, M.D. introduced fascinating new thinking about the relationship between the health of our soil and the health of our bodies.
"We are not simply nourished by the soil, we are of the soil! So, starting from that premise, it stands to reason that we should care for our bodies in the same way that a mindful farmer cares for the soil. And, of course, we should treat our farms and soil as if they are an extension of our body."
Last year, Frances Moore Lappe spoke about her work with the Small Planet Institute and the 10 Myths of World Hunger. (I was familiar with her as the author of "Diet For A Small Planet," my introduction to a plant-based diet and the concept of complementary protein sources.)

Wes Jackson of The Land Institute was the keynote speaker for my first PASA conference. His talk about the Farm Bill was eye-opening to this beginning farmer.
The Land Institute is a "science-based research organization that promotes an alternative to current destructive agricultural practices. Our work is dedicated to advancing perennial grain crops and polyculture farming solutions."
This year marked the 25th anniversary of the PASA Farming For The Future Conference. In addition to the keynote speakers, the conference offers workshops, roundtable discussions and a trade show offering a variety of farming-related products (this is where I always pick up my Organic Mechanics seed starting mix).

Keynote speaker was Richard Alley whose engaging talk provided us with a look at how climate change is already affecting life on our planet. He says that there shouldn't be a serious role for politics in climate science -- science is science.
"We must have a dialogue about the things that really matter. Wisest paths forward, how hard do we work to reduce CO2 emissions, how hard do we work to prepare for the changes that are coming. Those sorts of questions are very big. They’re very important. And having them is a path to getting us towards a brighter future."

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