Last weekend the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) hosted their New Farm U conference in Streator, Illinois. New Farmer U is a weekend long conference full of engaging speakers and networking opportunities for beginning farmers. The conference covered so many valuable topics, from financial advice to production techniques to law. Experts in their fields led 90 minute workshops and discussions, in addition to a panel with experienced farmers sharing their advice.
Although the conference was Friday through Sunday, I only attended the Saturday portion. Our Farmer Training Manager, Mallory Krieger gave an inspiring presentation on an introduction to Holistic Farm Management. She was also on the Farmer Insight Panel, “If I knew then what I know now.” Throughout the day I had the opportunity to listen to speakers on soil fertility with Grant McCarty with University of Illinois Extension and a discussion on Policy and Leadership with Rebecca Osland and Liz Moran-Stelk with Illinois Stewardship Alliance.
The sentiment throughout the entire event can be best described as enthusiastic and collaborative. It was a great feeling to see everyone involved with the discussions and quick to want to share their own experiences. Even though the attendees came from all over the state, and some from neighboring states, it felt like a community of people with shared dreams and ambitions. Rather than compete with each other, everyone was eager to build each other up.
I think it is unique to find people who truly love what they do, despite the challenges, and here they all were in one room together. There is much work to be done, both on and off the farm, but I left feeling optimistic about the future of farming. There is another New Farmer U conference that will be held in Wisconsin on April 27-29, 2018. For more information, you can go to https://mosesorganic.org/newfarmeru/.