Like minds! The Virginia Association for Biological Farming Annual Conference

This past week I had the great pleasure of attending the Virginia Association for Biological Farming Conference (aka VABF.org).  In earlier posts I had mentioned that finding resources for farming in a sustainable fashion, without synthetics, was a challenge.

But attending the VABF conference showed me wonderful resources and a community of farmers and gardeners in Virginia who do very much care about healthy farming practices.   Some of the highlights:

  • Discussions of field trials this past year, on how to deal with squash bugs–a notorious problem for organic farmers and for Terembry last year–through trap crops and farmscaping;
  • Karl Hamner of Vermont Compost Company–a compost and poultry operation located in Montpelier, Vermont–who talked about how he was able to use restaurant scraps for compost and poultry feed, producing both healthy compost and a considerable amount of eggs from a very large poultry operation  that he sells to urban markets;
  • Pam Dawling of the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, who discussed her circular crop rotation–her very thick book on the subject of farming goes into great detail about crop rotations and planning;
  • Kristen and Mark Kimball, of Essex Farm in upstate New York,  discussed their approach to farming their large operation with  9 draft horses, and the challenges of farming in a sustainable fashion;
  • Most important–meeting a ton of people from Virginia and North Carolina who want to see organic, sustainable, local, non GMO farming succeed!  There’s nothing like talking to those who’ve been there and done that to get energized and focused on the next steps.
  • Finally, incredible food–from bison burgers to delicious beets to fresh salads and baked apples for dessert; best food I’ve had at a conference, and all from local providers arranged by the VABF.

In past years I’ve looked for local resources on sustainable farming, and didn’t find it in the usual places.   This was my first conference with VABF, and I learned a great deal.

Some items that consumers may want to focus on are the serious changes at play in DC with the farm bill, including some that may have strong impact on local farmers.  VABF was a good venue to hear about those as well, and to hear about some of the efforts underway to support small farms that promote healthy practices.

All this being said, Terembry is gearing up for its second season, with a focus on a smaller CSA, greater diversity, and growth of the poultry operation. We are signing up members now; if you are interested, email sharon@terembryfarm.com.

And yes, the cookbook, now at 100 plus pages, is getting close to distribution.

A revised planting plan will be posted in the next week.  It will be very similar to what’s there but we’re adding some items such as sorrel and domesticated lambs quarter.

Here’s looking forward to Spring (and hoping that the groundhog in Pennsylvania knew what he was doing.)

Terembry Farm,  February 2013

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