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Farming and the Local Food Scene: Getting Ready for the Upcoming CFSA Conference, October 26–28

I’d like to share with you some upcoming excitement in the southeastern United States farmers’ calendar. No, it’s not the crisp, fall sweater weather or watching your winter garden grow—it’s the upcoming 27th Annual Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) Conference on the weekend of October 26th that will bring together hundreds of the nation’s sustainable agriculture experts, farmers, and other interested parties who want to learn more about sustainable farming. This will be my first year attending the conference, since I unfortunately missed last year’s held in Durham, North Carolina (which would have been a much shorter commute). However, a group of friends from the farm crew are making the drive down to Greenville, South Carolina to hear from experts in a variety of fields.

Looking at the conference schedule, it’s nearly impossible to figure out which talks and workshops I’ll attend. This isn’t because the schedule is confusing, but because I’m extremely interested in about 75% of the workshops or talks offered. It’d be nice to have the superpower of being in more than one place at a time so I can attend all of the workshops that interest me.  For example, will I decide to go to an all-day workshop intensive held by Michael Phillips, the magical fruit man, or split my day between an organic beekeeping workshop and a mushroom cultivation workshop, where I’ll get to bring home oyster mushroom spores? I feel extremely fortunate to live in a place where these are the hard decisions I have to make. Regardless of what workshops I choose to attend, there’s no doubt that I’ll meet and form relationships with others who are interested in the future of sustainable agriculture in the United States.

Also thankfully, I am receiving a scholarship from CFSA to attend the conference that will cover the cost of entire conference (including some meals!).

Sign up now for the conference! You can still register before October 4th and save some money. Hope to see you there!

Here are some workshops and talks to look out for:


8:30–10:00 am

1) Michael Phillips—”Holistic Orchard Management”. Phillips has written two books about orchard management, and has a farm in New Hampshire. I’m currently reading his newest book, The Holistic Orchard, which is a comprehensive assessment of what you need from the soil on up to start and maintain a successful fruit orchard. I hope to finish reading the book before attending this workshop.

*Other possibilities: 1) “Building an Inexpensive Chicken Tractor,” 2) “Permaculture and Special Nutrition,” 3) “Action Update on Federal Sustainable Farming Issues”

10:30 am–12:00 pm

1) Tradd Cotter—”Hands-on Mushroom Workshop.” From looking at Cotter’s website, he seems to have extensive experience growing mushrooms. As I’d like to learn more about how to grow my own mushrooms in my backyard, this seems like an easy option unless I decide to go to his pre-conference workshop.

*Other possibilities: 1) “Key Strategies to Organic Beekeeping,” 2) “Connecting Farms, Food and Schools”


1) Michael Phillips–“Fungal Dynamics Underlying Plant Health”

*Other possibilities: 1) “Growing Great Garlic,” 2) “Hands-on Worm Composting”


9:00–10:30 am

1) “Regional Organic Grains Update: From Field to Bread’n’Beer”

*Other possibilities: 1) “Climate-Proofing Your Farm,” 2) “Beginning Farmer Panel Discussion: Good Moves and Goofs for a New Small Farm”


1) “Success with Aquaponics” led by Cliff Jagger of Asheville Aquaponics. Aquaponics, the system where fish waste is filtered by edible plants is a method that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently as a way to grow food in the contaminated areas of the city, where farming in the soil isn’t safe and remediation is incredibly expensive. I hope to learn more about the system, as well as how to be successful with aquaponics given its large initial investment for equipment.

*Other possibilities: 1) “Hops is Hopping,” 2) “How to Grow Ginger—Locally!”, 3) “Year-round Bounty for the Home Gardener”

Laura Stephenson is an environmental science graduate from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she focused in environmental and community health. She is currently working full-time at a small, organic farm outside of Hillsborough, North Carolina called Maple Spring Gardens. Laura writes the Farming and the Local Food Scene series about her experiences with local farms and farmers around the Piedmont area of North Carolina.


Posted on: September 18, 2012, 6:00 am Category: Farming and the Local Food Scene Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

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