Last week 500 ranchers, farmers, scientists and advocates convened in Albuquerque, NM for the 12th annual Quivira Conference “Inspiring Adaptation.” The theme was apt following yet another year of extreme drought in the West and unprecedented floods in Colorado’s Front Range. It would be easy, given all this, to be all doom-and-gloom. But one of the many ways in which the Quivira Coalition excels is in its ability to offer tangible solutions to seemingly-unsolvable problems.
Producers flocked from across the west to get a taste of this inspiration. Speakers included rancher Dennis Moroney of 47 Ranch in McNeal, Arizona who boosted his operation’s resilience through diversification; renowned writer and food and farming advocate Gary Paul Nabhan; winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Gary Snyder; stream restoration expert Bill Zeedyk; Pati Martinson and Terrie Bad Hand, Co-founders of the Taos County Economic Development Corporation; and leading climate scientist Jonathan Overpeck, among many more.
NYFC co-hosted a Career Connection event which drew in a packed room of job-seekers to mingle with potential employers. Young farmers and ranchers enthusiastically shared plans taking shape on their own operations, such as converting conventional calf/cow operations into a grass-fed beef business, harvesting mesquite to sell for flour in Texas, and diversifying current vegetable operations to become more resilient.
According to a map placed in the lobby, 3,496,197 acres of land across the U.S. have been positively impacted by this year’s Conference attendees. And we’re all asking the same question:
How can we work to transform the land into a resilient and regenerative landscape, particularly in the face of a changing climate?
As Courtney White, Quivira’s Founder and Creative Director, wrote, “We’ve become so accustomed to this state of affairs [infrastructure that protects us from drought], however, that we’ve let our guard down and eroded our ability to respond to the short-term emergencies or to take long-term threats seriously. The latter requires planning and transformational changes, rather than business as usual. Are we willing to try?”