This year’s EcoFarm conference brought together hundreds of farmers and farmer advocates as well as a 10-person MESA crew! Four stewards from Brazil, Mexico, Taiwan and Peru, four staff, and 2 board members/host farmers convened for “education, alliance building, advocacy, and celebration” among friends. The EcoFarm conference is held annually in January at the gorgeous coastal Asilomar conference grounds in Pacific Grove, CA.
Watch this short video clip of board member and host, Bill Nunes, as he describes who really recharges him every year at EcoFarm:
We couldn’t have said it any better. We feel so re-energized after getting together with MESA Stewards as they share their future goals and recent accomplishments as beginning farmers. Conferences inspire connections, which we believe are the drivers of change. MESA Steward Sue-Jen is planning on making big changes in Taiwan when she returns. We’re thrilled to post her reflections below:
The 2016 EcoFarm Conference Rocked!
inspiring and fun! As a MESA steward from Taiwan, those three words
describe how I feel about the 2016 EcoFarm Conference. After three
days of learning new things, meeting great people and having so much
fun in the process, I definitely can say that I will be back next
year if I can.
EcoFarm Conference provided many workshops and plenaries so people
had plenty of options of where they wanted to go or what they wanted
to learn. One of the best plenaries I attended was Dr. Daphne
Miller’s session. She talked about how “Food Is Medicine” and
also shared her farming experiences. Her words were like gospel to my
ears because before I worked as a kidney dialysis nurse. In Taiwan,
where I am from, I witnessed many people who never cooked and ate out
all the time suffer from kidney failure. Like Daphne Miller, I too
believe that food is medicine. But many people believe that if you
buy your own food and cook then that’s enough. It’s not true. She
explained that only good quality, organic, non-GMO food is the
solution to cure disease.
I also attended a
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) workshop. This workshop helped
me develop a business plan on how I will operate CSA in my community
when I come back to Taiwan. I learned that this is the best way to
gain support from my family, friends and neighbors but also teach
them the benefits of organic, locally harvested food. Now I can
picture myself happy to provide fresh produce that I grew with love
and joy to all my family and friends when I return.
Because of EcoFarm,
I met many interesting farmers from all over the US. We talked,
shared and exchanged our thoughts and seeds. Some already planted
their seeds for many years, others just started to plant their seeds
like myself, a beginner farmer. So no matter how much farming
experience we had, all kinds of farmers gathered together at the 2016
EcoFarm Conference to share our love for people, our soil and our
When I headed back
to my host place, Golden Rule Farm, my pocket was full of business
cards from the people I met. Those business cards will serve as my
farming library network. They will serve as my cheerleaders, who are
only a short email or Skype chat away from providing me with advice
on how to start my farm when I come back to Taiwan.
The 2016 EcoFarm
Conference was educational and full of networking opportunities, but
it was also full a lot of fun. The conference planners made sure they
arranged fun events for the attendees from morning until night. When
my brain couldn’t take any more learning, I went to have a beer and
sampled cheeses to refresh my thoughts. Even in the evening, I was
extremely busy running around like a honey bee from one social event
to the next. One evening I spent seed swapping and finding those
special seeds that I was dying to get my hands on. The best part of
the experience of course was mingling with the seed growers and
learning from them.
The final night, I swung to the EcoFarm dance
party to celebrate love and peace until midnight. It was so much fun.
The 2016 EcoFarm Conference rocked! I gained a ton of farming
knowledge, made new friends and had an amazing time. Thank you MESA
for awarding me this great opportunity.
-Sue Jen, MESA Steward 2015-2016