I would like to share my recent EcoFarm attendance at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, CA.
This was my first conference as a beginner farmer and landowner of 20 acres of organic land, located in Gilroy. I attended workshops that were designed to help understand regulation, soil, and management of bee hives on farms. I was very impressed by the speakers and the workshop leaders to share their knowledge and answer questions and provide guidance in making selections. The marketplace was informative with vendors displaying their products and showing new products that are available to improve farming methods.
Overall, the planning committee put in a lot of effort selecting a good variety of speakers and organizing the workshops. The conference grounds are very easily accessible and comfortable, the staff was friendly and helpful. I would recommend the EcoFarm conference to new members like myself to learn and share the experience.
This January I attended my eighth EcoFarm Conference. When I first attended in 2011, I wondered how welcome a food advocate would be at a farmer conference. By 2014, I had joined the conference planning committee, one of a number of advocates with different points of view who was working to support the food system and, in particular, ecological farming (farming that is sustainable, regenerative, organic and more). By 2016, I was helping co-found EcoFarm’s Diversity Advisory Group, whose mission is to increase the diversity of the conference to more closely match the demographic make-up of California. We want to include people of all backgrounds and experiences, and to make everyone feel that they are a welcome, integral and important part of the conference, an effort which in its first to years has had some gratifying initial success. So, yes, I felt welcome – and I guess that I am all in at this point.
Each year sees more programming that would be of interest to Transition members. From urban agriculture to school gardens to permaculture, programming is growing to include more than production farmers, though production farming will always be the core of EcoFarm. Transition Palo Alto members are increasingly paying attention – one friend spent much of January talking himself into going, and by the last day of the conference he was telling me what he is going to do differently next year. It is obviously a way to learn. But it is also a way to give back, a way to help build the resilient, local food system that is a key component to Transition’s vision for the future.
Curious? Consider attending in 2019. Check out the conference web-site. If a three-day commitment is too much for you, come for a single day. Do plan to eat there – the food, sourced from local farms like Full Belly Farm, is very good. Asilomar is a stunningly beautiful place to confer. Fun is had by all – music, films and more supplement the conference sessions. And the people who attend are folks that you will want to meet. See you at EcoFarm next year!