Midwest Organic Farming Conference

We are back from the Midwest Organic Farming Conference in La Crosse, WI. This was our first trip down there and though everyone told us it was an amazing conference we really weren’t prepared.
 
The whole Crazy Boy Farm family went down together. Our fun began on the way down. We chose the slightly longer scenic route of highway 61 along the St. Croix river all the way down. At Lake Pepin and Wabasha we started seeing bald eagles–so many we just had to count them. Seven on the way down, 5 on the way back. On the way down it was mid day so most of the eagles were just perching on trees near the highway watching the open water. On the way back it was getting close to dusk and they were out hunting–that was a sight. We also saw a flock of 13 wild turkeys and 3 bulls. Two was our little wildlife spotter. I told Proeun one day we will have to get a really good camera to take all these wildlife pictures.  

One great quote from the trip down came after a stop to buy snacks. Mavis had been fussing for about a half hour and we couldn’t take it anymore so we decided she needed a distraction. We stopped at a grocery store in Red Wing and when Proeun came back with a bag of chips and lollipops (not my choice) there was much excitement in the car. Two gleefully took his first bite of chips and said wistfully, “we got chips and the power of love.” Proeun almost choked on that one.  

Over 2,000 people attended the conference which is the largest one  in La Crosse according to one of the workers who said, “no one is allowed to take vacation for this one.” Moving the children from place to place with that many people around can be an adventure.

 

Our plans also changed frequently during the conference to accomodate the children. Avril was sick the first night in the hotel so taking them to the children’s area was out of the question until we figured out if it was a virus or something she ate. We also had to change plans to allow her to rest and recover. Of course the workshop Proeun really wanted to take was early the next morning. So he went and I took the shuttle from our hotel later when the children woke up. Then later in the day we again changed plans to allow for nap for us  which was totally worth it and it really helped us enjoy the evening more.

The class Proeun took was on organic mushroom production.

I love oyster mushrooms.

One of the best things about the conference was meeting other farmers who were out there living the dream and doing the good work.

Here’s the Cowsmo man. His family runs a dairy farm. They came up with a new, unique and healthy use for all that cow poo and now produce a really popular organic compost and potting soil, all from thinking outside the box. We used their compost to start our seeds last year and plan to again this year.

The dining area was another great place to network. I guess I have been neglecting my children’s culinary education though, they weren’t too keen on the quinoa and couscous. Luckily they had good old mac and cheese and organic pulled pork sloppy joes.

I even got to attend a workshop on media relations. Since I am also sort of media I thought it would be a good one for me to attend. I wasn’t prepared for just how amazing it would be. Through their directed exercises I was able to hone our business philosophy and mission–“Family Friendly Farming: for our children and yours.” Lisa Kivirist and her husband John Ivanko run Inn Serendipty, a bed and breakfast where they produce their own food organically. Lisa said “we have to look at the big picture. This is more then just about our businesses. As our businesses improve, the movement [sustainable agriculture] grows and the world becomes a better place. . . we are changing the world by changing the food system.” Wow talk about a pep talk!

We did take time to allow our own little portion of the world to take a break. Our hotel had a pool and game room and by the second day Avril was much improved and was able to go to the children’s area, supervised by one of her parents. Here’s a picture I will really remember from what ended up being more then a farming conference but also a great family trip.

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