Thanks to some help from the Green City Market, this past weekend Graydon and I had the opportunity to attend the MOSES (Midwest Organic and Sustainable Educations Service) Conference in La Crosse, WI. For a broad run down of the vibe and culture of the conference check out Graydon’s post below. Interesting presentations, good food, and enthusiastic company what more could a social-interaction starved farmer want from a short weekend in the bar capital of the United States? Obviously, we had a blast and would love to return in the future.
The overarching theme of the conference for me was innovation and creative problem solving. In particular, this came through in a talk given by Lauren Frerichs and Adam Cullip of Loon Organics and Grant Schultz of VersaLand Farms entitled Machinery for Beginning Farmers. Upon entering I thought this would just be a useful introduction to different machines best suited to the start-up farmer. And, Frerichs and Cullip did an excellent job of giving suggestions of which tools a beginning farmer should purchase right off the bat. However, what really struck me was their story of experimentation with machinery and the adjustments they have made over time to not only improve efficiency and profitability but also their, and their workers, quality of life. From a DIY transplanter to a tractor converted to electric power they have pushed themselves to figure out solutions to both the practical and ecological problems posed by the farm.
Next up was Grant Schultz. Right away, I connected with Grant when he admitted that he would rather work smarter than harder. In the few years I have worked on a farm I have found that, while we like to brag about working our asses off from dawn to dusk, we often forget to take the time to figure out simple, cost effective solutions that will save us time, money and energy. From the types of hoes we use to our planting methods there is almost always room for greater efficiency and innovation. Also, Grant encouraged us to look at how farming is being done around the world. From Switzerland and their pastured raised dairy to Cuba and their world leading amount of local, organic gardens. Definitely an eye-opening presentation.
Anyways, I have to wrap things up here and call into the farm. We start planting onions in trays this week. It seems like last year just ended but here we are again on the verge of the 2013 season. Hopefully, a bit more prepared and with heads and hearts refreshed and inspired for what is to come.
Cheers! And, good luck to all the farmers around the globe!