by Angie Lavezzo, CFSA Communications Coordinator | Monday, Nov. 1, 2021 –
Pink Oyster Mushrooms in Grow Bag
There are so many great reasons to grow mushrooms for yourself, your family, and your customers that it’s hard to choose just five. Mushrooms are relatively easy to grow. So much so that mushroom farms exist in all 50 states. While you don’t have to become a full-fledged mushroom farm, they can be an excellent addition to diversify your garden crops or farm income.
Growing enough mushrooms to feed your family and extra to sell at a farmers market or to restaurants will take very little of your time. In fact, after the initial setup, mushrooms may end up being your best-yielding crop when you compare the time spent caring for your logs and bags to the amount of food you get in return.
by Mary Beth Miller, CFSA Education Coordinator & Ashley See, CFSA Communications Manager | Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021 –
If there is one takeaway from our virtual Sustainable Agriculture Conference last year, it was: No matter the place, platform, or pandemic, our community of farmers and gardeners, educators and students, advocates and food systems leaders, service providers and agribusinesses, can’t be stopped. We know how to have fun, build community, learn from each other, and work toward a shared vision of a more just and sustainable food system, regardless of where we are.
Though circumstances do not allow us to gather for a large in-person event for another year, we’re ready to bring the community back together in less than a week—Nov. 5-15, 2021! We’ve worked hard on an improved virtual conference experience for you to enjoy more than 55 workshops, 115 speakers, 2 keynote panels, and 39 opportunities for live connection (11 round table discussions, 10 morning mixers, 9 meetups, 8 breakouts, and 3 ask-the-authors). We can’t wait for you to be part of it!
If you’re on the fence about whether or not the CFSA 2021 Sustainable Agriculture Conference is right for you, here are the top five reasons you’ll want to consider joining nearly 500 of your peers and registering today.
by Angie Lavezzo, CFSA Communications Coordinator | Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021 –
Each year, our staff is always buzzing about which sessions at the upcoming Sustainable Agriculture Conference they’re most excited about.
Given our efforts for you to get to know our staff better, we figured we’d share their answers to Which workshop or activity are you most looking forward to and why? While many of them reported that it was mean to make them pick one, here is what we heard back.
Soil cultivation, particularly with traditional tilling methods, is so common, they’ve gone unquestioned for generations. Most farmers and gardeners are taught how and when to turn the soil to manage weeds and prepare for planting. Tilling offers relatively easy and instant results to turn in soil amendments, aerate and break up clumpy soil, and produce a loose and plantable loam. An increasing amount of research has come back, showing that this repeated cultivation comes at a high cost.
It’s no secret that as growers in the Southeast, unique challenges are present here that are not in other parts of the country. We tend to have more bug pressure than other regions. Our rainfall is increasingly unpredictable, waffling between drought and monsoon. The fungal issues brought on by our humidity levels are a special kind of frustration.
Maybe these are good reasons not to bother with the extra step of saving seeds on our farms. Still, I passionately make the case that these environmental factors we are always learning from are precisely why we should be saving our seeds. Sure, it’s one more thing to add to the long list of tasks to be planned and managed. With just a few additions to the harvest calendar, the job is very manageable, enjoyable, can save money—and can even make money, helping to diversify farm income.
The art and practice of seed saving has seen an encouraging resurgence over the last decade. There’s been an uptick in seed swaps, the explosive growth of seed libraries, and the continued endurance of organizations like Seed Savers Exchange that facilitate the distribution of rare seeds.
Seed saving is an incredibly satisfying and valuable skill that can be easily incorporated into our seasonal growing plans.
Lee Barnes, who runs the Southeast Seed and Plant Exchange (SSPE), has been a longtime supporter of CFSA and a fixture at our annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference. The SSPE is a donation-based organization that provides seeds and plants to anyone who needs them, free of charge. You’ll often find Lee and his vast assortment of seeds set up at conferences and seed swaps all over the Southeast.
With only a few months before our hallmark event, I have some updates on the 2021 Sustainable Agriculture Conference.
First and foremost, it’s still happening!
A few months ago, the forecast looked as though holding our 36th conference in person was a viable option. Our hopes were high to break bread and learn alongside one another in downtown Durham. Today things look different. Due to the surge of the Delta variant of COVID-19, the ongoing emergence of possibly more virulent and vaccine-resistant strains, and the uncertainty of whether large gatherings will be allowed this fall, we must prioritize the health of our staff, their families, conference attendees, and those who are not or cannot get vaccinated. Holding a large, indoor event is no longer a viable option.
Fortunately, there are still many ways to bring our community together in a safe, accessible way.