Farming for the FuturePosted: February 21, 2013
We recently returned home from a few days in State College, PA, where we attended PASA’s Farming for the Future conference.
I got hubs a PASA membership as a Christmas present in 2012. He attended the conference last year and had an opportunity to participate in several, excellent cheese-making workshops. He had such a good experience that we upgraded to a family membership when it came time to renew this year.
So, I joined hubs along with our 8-week old daughter and my mom (who thought she was going to babysit, but is secretly in training to farmsit for us when the time comes) for this year’s conference. While less focused on cheese-making this year, the conference still offered excellent speakers, informative workshops and lots of opportunity to network.
The conference was February 6-9. Hubs attended a per-conference workshop on Thursday focused on small ruminants. I’d never been to State College (except for a football game) or the surrounding areas, so mom and I took advantage of the down time to explore downtown State College and nearby Bellefonte.
A major university surrounded by lots of fun shops and diverse restaurants might sound like your typical college town, however State College is anything but these days. The scandal surrounding Jerry Sandusky is still thick in the air. The town is like a wounded animal struggling to heal. Hopefully brighter days are ahead for this great university, its people and the town that nurtures it. Bellefonte is a lovely town just about 10 miles down the road from State College that boasts beautiful Victorian architecture. Unfortunately the weather was too cold to do a lot of exploring, but both deserve a second visit.
Anyhow, back to the conference. Hubs and I were in full workshop mode on Friday and Saturday. Between the two of us we took in topics ranging from portable fencing, to composting, to cheese-making, to building commercial kitchens and financing the family farm. We also enjoyed keynote addresses by Charles Eisenstein and Ben Hewitt. Mom caught a discussion on urban/small space farming and joined us for a portion of the keynote speaker when she managed to tear herself away from the baby.
Hubs and I both returned home from the conference feeling more confident about our decision to pursue a rural life and motivated to give it a good try. Sometimes I question whether this is really the life for me (physically demanding work, farm-bound, generally smelling, dirty and well, you get the picture), but then I think, I’d rather try and fail than never try at all.