At the ctNOFA conference I enjoyed good food, company and lectures. The potluck style of the conference worked wonderfully. It was easy to connect with the other attendees and the vendors because everyone seemed to be there for the same common values -- health, honest living, community and stewardship of the earth. The first lecture I attended was done by Animal Welfare Approved. They are a nonprofit organization that certifiers farmers for ethical treatment of their livestock. They do not charge farmers, unlike USDA, and actually even help farmers to make any changes in order to be certified, and their standards are much stricter (kinder to the animals) than other certifiers. The second lecture was about small farmers battling Monsanto. Monsanto has been known to sue small farmers for having trace amounts of Monsanto-patented plants from cross pollination that no one can control. NOFA is an effective grouping of small farmers that allows them to fight collectively and more securely against Monsanto. The third lecture was about soil microbiology, and it emphasized the importance of beneficial microorganisms in the soil that increase the nutrients available for plants. Composting, not tilling, cover cropping, crop rotation and adding beneficial microbe inoculants all can help boost and maintain healthy and productive soil microbe ecosystems. Overall, the afternoon at the conference in Manchester was fun, informative and a bonding experience for our community at Spring Valley.
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