[Market-farming] Winter is for conferences!

Wiediger, Alison alison.wiediger at hart.kyschools.us
Fri Nov 7 11:40:57 EST 2014

In all professions, there is always more to learn.  For farmers, this is particularly true.  I have always maintained that farmers have to be good at more skills than any other vocation.  And, to exacerbate that, especially for sustainable farmers, we are often somewhat isolated geographically from like-minded farmers.

The answer to "keeping up" in other careers is professional development. And, so it is for farmers as well.  But, as farmers, we have the opportunity to attend great conferences in our "off" season to get that extended learning.  And, not insignificantly, to network and socialize with other farmers as a bonus.

Our favorite conference is  the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group's (SSAWG) annual conference  in January.,  This year, it is January 14-17  in Mobile Alabama.


It is jam-packed with opportunities for learning.   It starts off with pre-conference (14-15) short courses.   These are a day and a half of intensive  learning.  Whether it is organic growing, high tunnels, farm to school, food policy  or farm profitability that grabs you, there is a short course for you.


And, on the afternoon of the 15th, there are field trips to interesting local farms and ½ day "mini courses", an afternoon looking in depth at some facet of farming.



The main conference, on the 16th and 17th is the pride of the region.  If you are growing in the South, you can't afford to miss this fabulous conference.  And, if you are not in the South (Bless your hearts!), it is still one of the largest gatherings of successful sustainable farmers around and well worth a trip to Mobile.  Great sessions, many presented by farmers,  and great networking in the halls and at meals!

Conference lodging  is at the Riverview Plaza Hotel, right on the river.  Very nice lodgings at great prices, and the prices are extended a couple of days before and after the conference to allow for a mini vacation if interested. Last year Paul and I took advantage of this great "deal" and had a wonderful 2 day vacation.  We even drove to the beach, walked in the water (well, I did, Paul wasn't so sure) and picked up pretty shells just like normal folks!

The conference itself is very conveniently located in the conference center just across the road, accessible by pedway if the weather is inclement.

Think about it!  It could be a great Christmas present to your farming operation.  We have been to many SSAWG conferences over the years, and we always come home with new ideas and renewed enthusiasm. Start a farm tradition - SSAWG conference in January.  You won't regret it!

Alison Wiediger, Au Naturel Farm

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