With feet of snow on the ground and the current blizzard conditions swirling outside my window, you would hardly guess that I would be inspired to think about farming. Believe it or not I am currently in a farming state of mind--in large part due to my attendance of the informational and inspirational PASA Farm for the Future conference. An amazing opportunity to network, learn, and just enjoy with over 2,400 other farming enthusiast--the Farming for the Future conference has garnered the much deserved reputation of providing farmers with what they need to refill the wellspring of passion and knowledge necessary to get through another farming season.
This year's conference did not disappoint. The slightly caustic but genius keynote speaker Michael Reynolds provided a model for this year's theme-- The Sustainable Challenge: Providing for a Livable Tomorrow -- through his rebellious yet ecologically logical architectural models. I attended a range of workshops with topics that included high tunnels, fermented foods, dealing with melon/cucumber/squash pests,transition towns and more--all with the underlying theme of providing for a more sustainable future. One of the highlights of this year's conference was to have Chester County natives Hoots and Hellmouth provide musical entertainment at the kick off winter picnic (with the giant turkey image staring down on them while they performed). In fact we got snowed in up at the conference, resulting in the opportunity to enjoy Hoots and Hellmouth a second time at a wonderful local food and ale house venue the Elk Creek Cafe--a restaurant started by former PASA executive director Tim Bowser. If you are ever in the State College area I strongly recommend the Elk Creek Cafe.
But on to farming--despite the weather outside, this is the perfect time to be picking out seeds, thinking about potting soil, and planning out your garden. Luckily PASA can be a resource for all of us in the Southeast region. This weekend PASA is hosting a great double header workshop on backyard chickens and succession planting click here for the complete details. Two PASA members are also great resources for seeds and potting soil-- Happy Cat Organics and Organic Mechanic potting soil. Check out Organic Mechanic at the PASA conference in the picture below. Another great resource, especially while you are stuck inside, is the Johnny Selected Seed Company (they too were at the PASA conference, even though the company is based in Maine). I basically could not survive without the help of Johnny's--their catalog is a fantastic reference as is their website and my new obsession their blog. So as the snow continues to pile up--I hope you can enjoy thoughts of spring and all the wonderful local resources PASA has to offer.