Farming Conferences Part 1

During the 2nd weekend of November, I (Shannon) was in Ste. Anne de Bellevue (near Montreal), QC for the Eastern Canadian Organic Seed Growers (ECOSGN) conference.

Home for less than a day, we both (Shannon and Bryan) headed to Halifax for the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN) conference and then I stayed on for the Food Secure Canada (FSC) conference (Bryan headed home before this one to keep the cats happy and the house warm….and it just started to snow on his drive home!).

First Snowfall

Attending conferences and workshops are one of the ways we work on our professional development as farmers (which is a big priority for us). They also help us feel connected to the greater community of farmers and food activists which deepens our sense of connection and inspires us to keep the bigger picture of why we decided to become farmers up front in our minds.

I realized this blog post would be too long if I wrote about each of these 3 conferences. So, our next few blog posts will focus on a different conference. Beginning with this one…and the ECOSGN conference.

Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security brochure

This was my first time attending the ECOSGN conference (and only the second ECOSGN conference ever) and I wouldn’t hesitate to go again.

In addition to learning more about producing seed crops, I find that learning about vegetable seed production helps me become a better vegetable farmer in general.

A few highlights:

  • Kim Delaney spoke about Seeds of Transition, a collaborative seed production effort in Ontario with her farm/seed company Hawthorn Farm and 4 market farms. The co-op members share equipment and skills. This group is doing something similar to the goals and aspirations of a new-ish collaboration we’re involved with (called the Cumberland County Ecological Seed Growers Network) and it was great to hear about what they’re doing – definitely a new source of inspiration!
  • Jodi Lew-Smith. The plant breeder at High Mowing Seeds has blown me away every time I’ve heard her speak. She’s incredibly good at converting her knowledge of plant breeding into practical, simpler terms. One thing I learned was how excited High Mowing is to be trying unheated high tunnels for seed production and breeding in the Northeast. But the challenge they recognize is…how to make it profitable? Also, I found out she’s written a novel called The Clever Mill Horse that I’m looking forward to reading.
  • Shoots & Roots Bitters. At the bar, during the banquet and keynote, I went on an ethnobotanical sensory journey! And it was amazing! Check out the website of this very cool company if your interest is piqued…it has tons of great information.
  • Adaptive Seeds. Two young market farmers turned seed farmers/seed company owners. They went on a cool trip around Europe (as Seed Ambassadors) and collected interesting varieties that aren’t currently found in North America. I’ve developed a huge farm crush on these guys since the conference & am really enjoying going through their seed catalogue and website.

Market customers: expect to see some cool new varieties at our market stand next year, grown with seed sourced from these guys!

Adaptive Seeds catalogue

Stay tuned for my upcoming post about the ACORN conference!

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