I’m just writing to let everyone know that we just got back from 4 days of sharing thought provoking, energizing, AMAZING sustainable agricultural information at the PASA conference.  Ian and I are so excited we don’t even know where to begin.  The conference theme was the worldwide search for food sovereignty: finding your foodshed.  If you have never heard of Raj Patel, he is an food activist/economist/journalist (made Ian proud to be british) check out http://www.rajpatel.org/  He presented an energetic and yet poignant speech on the economy of food.  Apart from that Ian attended a two day sustainable forestry workshop and I on beginning cheese-making. Throughout the main conference we split our time between various topics from training your livestock to eat and love weeds to making charcoal and using it to increase soil fertility.  In addition we bough CDs of lectures that we were unable to attend so we have nearly 24 hours of conference we can appreciate from the comfort of our home.

A snippet of the variety of information we learned:
-Cheese-making equipment/facilities are EXPENSIVE to get to be able licensed to sell.
-There is a whole new (safer way) to cut down trees than what most of us were taught
-People will come on to your land to plant ginseng (stealth gardening-kinda like some people do with marijuana)
-Mineral deficiencies are really harming us all and we need to eat more nutrient dense foods.  The only way to do that is to have healthy soil.  PS you need animal protein to get some minerals and nutrients that just aren’t available in veg.
-According to PA’s buy fresh buy local people ” if every household in PA spent $10 a week on regionally produced food, $48 million dollars would stay in the local economy each week or $2.25 Billion per year.”
-We need to be doing value added processes to our pork (we’ve been looking into charcuterie) an would love info on who to talk to in NY as to how to go about doing this 😉
-Even farms as small as two acres using poor management (fertilizer, pesticide, herbicides etc and runnoff) in a watershed can wreck havoc the ecosystem killing aquatic wildlife(check out bernard sweeny’s research http://www.stroudcenter.org/about/bernardsweeney.htm)
-We need to use riparian buffer systems (i wish I had the money to do proper fencing on the new land)
-Raw milk from a good clean dairy using proper sanitation and feeding their animals good grass fed diets TASTES great and is good for you- there are beneficial enzymes in it milk are killed with pasteurization. (4 days of drinking raw milk and we are doing fine)

Ian and I are discussing our plans/goals for our farm and how to implement some of the action steps we have taken away from this conference and we hope to share this with you in the near future.