Mom, Dad, and I went down to LaCrosse last weekend for the annual Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference.  It is always a good time full of excellent food, informative workshops, and meeting up with other farmers.  I personally find it inspiring to see the diversity of people involved with organic farming:  young and old, rural and urban, red and blue, dreadlocked and beer-bellied, talkative and stoic, community organizers and self-sufficient livers.  Sustainable farming is good for the land, providing us with healthy food and a more robust local economy.  By keeping your food dollar circulating within the local community, you are directly helping to create a healthier food system and higher quality of life for all of us — you the eater and us the growers, but also the non-local food eaters who still benefit by having cleaner water, more wildlife habitat, and more resilient rural and urban economies.  I think part of the reason that sustainable farmers are a diverse crew is that a vibrant local economy is something that people from all walks of life can agree is a good thing.

This year we had a few things in mind to focus on, so we went to sessions about pastured poultry, hoophouse season extension, and permaculture orchard design.  There was also a really nice panel discussion of and for CSA farmers.  Partly because of that discussion, there have been some new collaboration and support initiatives for CSA farmers that deliver to the Twin Cities, such as peer-mentoring options and potlucks for farmers.  A few of us are also hoping that we could hold a CSA-specific conference in LaCrosse the day before the usual annual conference begins.

I love being a farmer in Minnesota, and having the winter to rest, dream, study, plan, organize, and collaborate.  I honestly don’t know how they do it year-round in warmer places.  The annual organic conference is one of the signs that spring is right around the corner.  We are tapping maple trees right now, and getting ready to start the onion seeds next weekend.  Another growing season is upon us, and as the days get longer and longer we too are feeling more energized and excited.  Here we go again for another trip around the sun!

Looking forward to sharing the growing season with you,
Chris.

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