Northeast Organic Farming Association conference at WCSU
Farmers and foodies come together to share and learn innovative ideas

DANBURY, CONN. Western Connecticut State University will host the Connecticut chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s (NOFA) 35th Annual Winter Conference on Saturday and Sunday, March 11 and 12, 2017, on the university's Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. The conference brings together farmers, landscapers, foodies, gardeners, activists and community leaders to teach and learn innovative practices, share ideas and network.

On Saturday, March 11, registration begins at 8 a.m. and the presentations begin at 9 a.m. in Berkshire Hall on the Midtown campus. Participants may choose from 45 workshops, enjoy a gourmet lunch prepared by Connecticut chefs ($15 fee) and enter a raffle. The keynote speaker, Leah Penniman, is an educator, farmer and food justice activist from Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York.

“It’s important to develop a common understanding of food justice — the specific injustices that allocate resources and power in the food system,” Penniman said. “To not take action for justice is to be complicit, to cast our silent vote for the status quo.”

On Sunday, March 12, registration for the “Agricultural Re$ource Fair” begins at 8:30 a.m. and presentations begin at 9 a.m. in the Midtown Student Center. Registration for March 12 workshops begin at noon.

The University of Connecticut will sponsor the “Agricultural Re$ource Fair.” At this event, attendees will get an in-depth look at accessing Connecticut agricultural funding, with service providers and farmers presenting a detailed account of what it’s like to apply for various grant and loan programs. Following is the workshop, “Intensive Vegetable Production — No Till, Soil Health & Appropriate Fertilization,” with 2016 NOFA Farmer of the Year Bryan O’Hara. This workshop will cover concepts and practices that lead to high-quality vegetable crops, with an emphasis on soil health, producing vegetables without tillage and how to choose fertilizer materials.

WCSU Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Jane Goodall Center for Excellence in Environmental Studies Dr. Laurie Weinstein explained that CT NOFA is “a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate our initiatives such as the Permaculture Garden, the Climate Change talks and our Roots & Shoots club. The Roots & Shoots club will have its own table in the conference exhibit hall, where they will showcase their activities and plans for the garden. We will also be selling T-shirts to fundraise.”

Ticket prices for students, farmers and seniors are $35 for March 11, $20 for March 12 and $55 for both; for CT NOFA members $50 for March 11, $20 for March 12 and $70 for both; for non-members $60 for March 11, $30 for March 12, and $90 for both. Children under 12 year old are admitted free.

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Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.

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