Bright and early, the Growers headed over to the annual Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) conference at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. Although I was a little carsick on the way there due to the long ride, it was worth it! The car ride was filled with laughs and fun on the way there and on the way back great discussions about what information we absorbed during the conference. The whole experience was great! We were also accompanied by three Incubator Gardeners who we got to spend time with at lunch and at the keynote.
As soon as we arrived information was everywhere. It was on papers, pens, stickers, and at booths. There were also many booths for many different businesses. Although they were trying to sell their products, a lot of information was given about different things in our environment. For example, one of the booths were about poisonous mushrooms and which ones are edible, it was very educational.
There were multiple options for classes that we could attend over the course of five sessions. There were classes on harmful and beneficial pests, grafting, how to run a business, and many more. The most interesting class to me was about grafting. I found this class the most interesting because I never heard of two different fruits on one tree and when I found out that it is actually real, I wanted to know more. “I never thought you can fuse two plants together,” Grower Xavier Hernandez says.
Lastly, there was a controversial discussion where the speaker for the keynote was saying that hydroponics shouldn’t be allowed to use the label “organic” because they don’t use soil. Many people had different views on the topic, some agreed and some disagreed. Garden Education Coordinator, Esther Rose-Wilen said: “I think hydroponics make organic food cheaper and more accessible A person’s income shouldn’t matter, they should be able to feed their family produce that hasn’t been exposed to chemicals which is true of hydroponics.” Others disagreed, Hernandez, says “they shouldn’t because it is not natural. There is no dirt or soil involved, it is man-made and nature is not doing its work.”
Thank you to Wells Fargo, NewAlliance, First Niagara, People’s Community Bank Foundation, the Greater New Haven Green Fund, and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven for supporting the Growing Entrepreneurs program and helping make trips like this happen!
Thank you to the Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Foundation for supporting the Incubator Garden program!
Thursday, March 29, 2018