NOFA-NY Field Notes

NOFA-NY Field Notes Blog

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Our 37th Winter Conference

Our 37th Winter Conference
 

Thank you to all who attended NOFA-NY’s 37th Annual Organic Farming & Gardening Conference! In spite of the weather, you came together to share stories, celebrate seeds, exchange ideas, dance and play trivia. I have heard some wonderful feedback about the quality of the workshops, the keynote speakers, the children’s conference, and the sense of community.

We were fortunate to hear from keynote speakers, Leah Penniman and Fred and Karen Lee, as well as the opening on Friday night by Ken Greene and Rowen White. We were honored to host discussions about the meaning of organic and to hold space for difficult conversations. This Winter Conference illuminated the fact that NOFA-NY has the potential to help build an equitable food system – but we have a lot of work to do before we get there.

This was my third Winter Conference and each year it is new and different. I have new unexpected inspirations, meet new people, and learn. This year, I was inspired by children running through the halls, seeing their drawings posted on the walls, and hearing them say they want to be farmers when they grow up. I met so many new people who held an energy that shined through them.

I learned a lot. I learned the need to listen with intentionality, and sometimes listen more than speak. I learned that if NOFA-NY wants to be an inclusive organization, we need to have difficult conversations and understand what space we are providing and what space we are occupying. This Conference started these conversations, but in a very messy, clumsy way – like a child learning to walk or that first-ever harvest.

We are constantly growing and learning in this food system we share. The Winter Conference is a great platform for everyone in the organic community to come together – but it is just one part of our work. NOFA-NY is the only state-wide organization that brings together organic farmers from upstate, downstate, rural, and urban communities. We have a great opportunity to build an equitable food system across New York that reflects justice for all living things – a cornerstone of organic farming principles.

There were times during the conference where racial inequities – in the broader food system, in our community, and at the Saratoga Hilton – became very apparent. Our organization’s vision is: A just and resilient farming system grounded in a diverse community now and for future generations. NOFA-NY is committed to doing the work of putting these words into action. In the coming weeks and months, we will be engaging in guided conversations, as well as dismantling racism and cultural competency trainings, with our Board of Directors and staff. We will be collaborating on field days and other public activities with members and allied organizations. In November, we formed an equity committee. The committee is in the midst of developing a plan and process to address racial and social equity within and across NOFA-NY.  

If you have suggestions or feedback for NOFA-NY, please feel free to contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or a member of our staff. If you attended the Winter Conference and want to give feedback about the event, you can use this evaluation form.   

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