Sunday, April 22, 2012

NOFA Conference: Bees, Remedies, and Greens

My favorite seminar at the NOFA conference by far, was Marina Marchese’s presentation on bees and beekeeping. As she is the president of Backyard Beekeepers and a long time beekeeper, she had a huge retinue of advice to share about her experiences. She covered basic bee behaviors, favorite flowers, arrangement of the hive, and diseases and treatments. The most interesting parts of her lecture was her knowledge of the behavior of bees just from experience: that they tire, get hungry, become frustrated when it rains too much; her talk really helped humanize bees for me. We learned about the different types of honey that can be made, the collection of beeswax to make candles, and that chewing propolis (fragrant resin that the bees produce) can alleviate a sore throat. Her presentation made beekeeping sound simple, rewarding, and enjoyable. The second seminar I attended was Food as Medicine with Leigh White. Her lecture was all about the hidden health benefits of food, as well as home remedies. We learned about Naturopathic Therapy and its emphasis on natural treatments, cleansing, and detoxification. She gave us insight into the use of ginger, garlic, onion, honey, and tea to simply treat a variety of ailments such as headache, stomach ache, burns, dry skin, sore throat, and toxins. The third seminar I attended with Collards and Other Cold Weather Greens with John Turenne, Wayne Hansen, and Leigh White. This seminar took place in one of the MCC kitchens, where our instructors made quite a few kale, collard, and swiss chard dishes for the class to try. Originally I thought this session would be more on health benefits, flavor, and growing methods of the greens, but I was rather disappointed that it was almost entirely about recipes and cooking techniques. I did fortunately learn how to make some pretty delicious leafy green dishes. Because this seminar ended 30 minutes early, I went and joined the New Farmer Show and Tell with Shannon Raider and Susan Mitchell, which dealt with new farmers and their advice on farming techniques that were most helpful to them. This seminar was small and very simple, with the presenters passing around multiple tools and explaining why they were so useful. I especially liked their talk on the hand cultivator (the name for that forked hoe thing) just because that is perhaps my favorite garden tool which I use as a multipurpose tool to do anything. Overall, I think the NOFA conference was a great success and I’m very much glad that we were able to attend. The Seminars were fascinating, the potluck was delicious, and the venders all had some incredibly interesting items. I was even able to win some organic plant food in a raffle! I was impressed in the number and diversity of the farmers and students who attended, from all different ages and backgrounds. NOFA is definitely something that I would like to attend in the future. -->Paul

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