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Mountain Home Magazine

Small Is Beautiful

If you’ve ever had the hunch hovering there in the back of your brain that your Holsteins aren’t as happy as they could be, then the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture’s annual Farming for the Future conference might be for you.

If you’re curious about terms like permaculture, biodynamics, and community supported agriculture, then the Farming for the Future conference might be for you.

If you like to eat and/or grow healthy food, then the Farming for the Future conference might be for you.

Are ya seein’ a pattern here?

PASA’s 25th annual conference ( will be the first weekend of February 2016 in State College; it’s not too early to reserve the dates on your calendar and along about October or November it won’t be too early to call the Penn Stater Conference Center to reserve a room. The event generally draws a crowd of close to 2,000, with attendees typically coming from thirty or more states and several countries, and yet the feel is small and familial. The focus is on local—the importance of eating locally, growing locally, and working together to find local solutions to local problems. There are dozens of workshops on myriad topics throughout the two-day conference as well as intensive, single- topic learning experience opportunities prior to the main event. Are you interested in seed-saving? There’s a workshop for that. How about once- a-day milking, beekeeping, or getting started in farming? From building healthy soil to building hoophouses, there is someone at the conference who knows how to do it. The sessions I attended at this year’s conference included “Wild Wisdom of Weeds,” “Uncommon Fruits in the Food Forest,” and “Restoration and Utilization of the American Chestnut.”

And, I heard an inspiring keynote address from Frances Moore Lappe— yes, that Frances Moore Lappe, author of Diet for a Small Planet. Every aspect of our lives is a choice for the kind of world we want to live in, she said, so why are we together creating a world that as individuals we would never choose? She questioned why there is hunger in a world of plenty, then suggested we get out of the “scarcity mindset” and “rethink power” (hint: power and wealth are not limited to weapons and money).

The Farming for the Future conference is a fabulous mid-winter break, guaranteed to give hope to even the most Vitamin D-deficient as well as glimpses of a new, sunny growing season and insight into the “PASAbilities” of healthy food systems that respect and nourish ourselves and the natural environment. 

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