Each year, the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) holds its Organic Farming Conference in La Crosse, Wis. In partnership with Renewing the Countryside, the 2011 conference featured a new opportunity for 18 to 25 year olds who are interested or involved in the organic industry. Named the Young Organic Stewards program, the conference offered four workshops and two social activities focused on hot topics in the world of young farmers.
The Beginning Farmers workshop covered the challenges and opportunities new farmers face in today’s agricultural system, from fixing tractors to navigating investment choices. As having access to land is often one of the greatest roadblocks faced by young people interested in becoming farmers, a workshop on acquiring land covered several nontraditional options: leasing, partnerships with older farmers and the purchase of land. A workshops on how to find internships, farmer-training and university programs aimed to define the pros and cons of each option, so start-up farmers could choose the best learning opportunity that fit their needs and lifestyle. The last Young Organic Stewards workshop, held on the second day of the conference, provided an open dialogue session for participants to discuss challenges and opportunities, and create the next steps for the program. As a break from the programmed sessions, a coffee jam and a vegan essentials cooking class were offered as options for the participants to get to know one another in a more relaxed environment.
Did you participate in this year's conference? Let us know about it in the comments section below!
Jennifer Kongs is the Managing Editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine. When she’s not working at the magazine, she’s likely working in her garden, on the local running trails or in her kitchen instead. You can find Jennifer on Twitter or Google+.