Are you a local farmer or a community member passionate about the organic movement? If so, mark your calendars for this weekend because the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont’s (NOFA-VT) Winter Conference starts on Sunday.
Like so many other annual events, it’s gone virtual this year, but the speeches, panel discussions, workshops and roundtables are sure to still be educational and entertaining.
Join in all month long, from Feb. 7 to March 4, to connect with like-minded individuals across the state.
Here are 5 things to know before you go.
1. Whether you are a seasoned farmer or novice gardener, there is a workshop for you.
The conference’s 20 workshops are spread out over the course of the month and are grouped by topic, like those for commercial producers, homesteaders and gardeners. There is also a series of workshops on digital marketing, policy and food systems.
On Feb. 9, Julie Rubaud from Red Wagon Plants in Hinesburg will lead a workshop on online sales and marketing, a method many food producers pivoted to during the COVID pandemic.
On March 2, Carolina Lukac from the Vermont Community Garden Network, will show set op a seed-starter system at home by giving a virtual tour of her rustic basement grow room where she starts hundreds of vegetables, flowers and herbs for her backyard and community garden plot.
2. In an effort to make the conference as affordable and accessible as possible, NOFA-VT is offering ticket prices on a sliding scale.
Participants can pay between $30-150. The suggested price for NOFA-VT members is $80 and for non-members is $100. Those who pay over the suggested amount will help those who are unable to pay that cost.
NOFA-VT is also offering the option of free registration to those who identify as Black, Indigenous or a person of color (BIPOC). “NOFA-VT provides this offering in an effort to actively work toward dismantling systems of racism that have historically disadvantaged BIPOC and continue to do so today,” according to the conference website.
Registration provides access to all of the conference’s live-streamed events, as well as access to video recordings of the keynotes and workshops post-conference.
3. The keynote speaker is Sherri Mitchell, a Native American attorney, teacher and activist.
She is the author of Sacred Instructions: Indigenous Wisdom for Living Spirit-Based Change and the founding director of the Land Peace Foundation, an organization dedicated to the protection of Indigenous land, water and religious rights, and the preservation of the Indigenous way of life.
Her talk, “Sacred Instructions for Living During these Times,” will kick off the conference from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 7.
4. Other conference highlights include speaker roundtables, a film screening and lots of fun swag.
When you register, be sure to purchase a raffle ticket for $10. Prize baskets include goodies from local makers like Vermont Coffee Company, the Alchemist, Ben & Jerry’s and Bee’s Wrap.
Proceeds benefit NOFA-VT’s Farm Share Program which provides half-priced CSAs to limited-income Vermonters.
Head to nofavt.org/conference/more-ways-engage-connect to explore other ways of participating.
5. NOFA-VT is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and the winter conference will kick off a year of celebrations.
The organization was founded in Putney in 1971, making it one of the oldest organic farming associations in the United States. It has nearly 1,100 members across the state.
NOFA-VT owns the USDA accredited certification program, Vermont Organic Farmers, LLC certifies over 770 farms and processors to the USDA National Organic Program Standards.