This month, the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association hosted a special pre-conference gathering for apprentices and beginning farmers at the organization’s biennial conference. This year, the conference was held at Monona Terrace in Madison, Wisconsin from November 14 through 18.
About 25 young and beginning farmers attended the apprentice meeting, some of whom are members of the North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship program, while the conference itself attracted over 700 attendees from the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Many of the workshops over the course of the weekend discussed the function of agriculture in communities of the future, and ways in which to reestablish farms as social spaces, rather than isolated areas used strictly for commerce. In keeping with this theme, the pre-conference event focused on the future of young people in biodynamic farming. The meeting included a talk given by biodynamic gardener Gunther Hauk, founder of Spikenard Honeybee Sanctuary, in regards to the particular responsibility of young farmers as both stewards of the environment and vital components of the “creative process” of community building.
The workshop concluded with a World Café-style discussion forum, in which attendees broke out in small groups to share ways in which to address the challenges beginning farmers often face, including access to capital, land, and knowledge from experienced farmers. The ideas that emerged included not only economic matters such as thoughts on crowd-sourced funding and grant-writing, but also opinions on how to recreate cultural narratives surrounding food and the social roles of farmers in their regions.
The conference also featured over 40 workshops, including a panel of young biodynamic farmers, lending an opportunity to share successes and experiences from those in the field, as well as networking opportunities with mentors and other apprentices.
For more information about the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association’s conference, events, and apprenticeship program, visit their website at https://www.biodynamics.com.