Hard Work and Good Food

As Conservation Stewarts and Leaders of the environment we take pride in taking hands on action to help bring significant change to our planet. One of the most influence movements to bring significant change to this world is the movement for sustainable food. Of course it goes without saying that food is the basis for life and therefore as Stewarts of this planet we felt that it was important to participate in New England’s NOFA event. NOFA is the Northeast Organic Farming Association, an Association that actively promotes regenerative, ecologically sound gardening, farming and land care practices for healthy communities.  The event was attended by people who are passionate about building local sustainable food systems, so people in need have easily accessible sustainable food. We knew that this event would be very beneficial for our High school members and felt that they would gain a lot from learning about subjects like permaculture, biological processes, and even wild mushroom picking. So we prepared for an early start to our day and got the vans loaded for a day filled with leaning.

Our day began with meeting our SCA members at the Salvation Army. We spent about half an hour playing foot tag while we waited for members to arrive. Foot tag was a new game to most of us and we all immediately fell in love with the game.  We finished our game and decided to leave with the five members we were able to gather.

Once we arrived half of our group was recruited to help chop veggies for the lunch that would hopefully feed the hundreds of hungry people attending the conference. The rest of us decided to visit the vendor room then attend one of the many workshops that were taking place before lunch.  Some of the group attended the permaculture work shop to hear about the potential implements of urban agriculture into some of the more disadvantaged areas and food deserts around New Hampshire.  The workshop was extremely informative and the presenters clearly expressed their intentions to help bring easy food access to these areas. Some of the group also attended a workshop that delves deep into the biological processes of sustainable agriculture. It was a heavy and detailed presentation that explained soil chemistry, the importance of compost, and the importance of proper fertilization. The group that attended the workshop left with full minds.  We were ready to eat some great food.

Lunch time was great! After volunteering to help set up and serve lunch we ate! Lunch consisted of a soup made of a melody of vegetable that sang with a wide variety of flavor, wonderfully fluffy focaccia with juicy tomatoes, a shepherd’s pie that was a delightful treasure to our members who haven’t had a opportunity to eat great beef for a while, a spinach salad that consisted of every color under a rainbow, and an apple crisp that was so great that no words in any language could properly give a proper description to its wonderfulness. After our delightful lunch we prepared ourselves for the keynote speaker.

Ben Hewitt is a Vermont farmer and writer. Ben is very passionate about sustainable agriculture and during his speech he read about society’s movement toward the dependency for heavy machinery and the importance of connecting more with our food and community. His speech was filled with passion and he expressed his love for traditional farming. After Ben concluded his speech we moved on to learn about mushrooms!

Unfortunately we were not able to attend the full mushroom workshop, but even though the workshop was cut short for us a lot of us still found it to be a very informative and engaging experience. The high school members especially found the workshop to be very interesting. In the time that we were there we learned that you must always be careful about picking wild mushrooms. The presenter went over the importance of knowing what you are picking and the dangers of mimics and poisonous mushrooms. He emphasized that you should not be afraid of mushrooms and you should be encouraged to pick them, but you should always do so with caution. The speaker was extremely knowledgeable and his workshop was a popular favorite.

After learning about mushrooms we concluded our day at the NOFA conference and once again loaded the vans and headed back to the Salvation Army where the members were picked up. We were satisfied with all our new knowledge and were happy to head back home to bear brook. Overall the day was fantastic and we were left with wanting to learn more about sustainable agriculture, and of course wanting to eat more delicious food!