Edible Monterey Bay

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bustourpatrickThe 32nd Annual EcoFarm Conference (ecofarmconference.org)—the largest environmentally oriented farming event in the West—will get under way next Wednesday, Feb. 1 at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, and such hot topics as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will be a big focus.

Each year, the conference—which is open to anyone who is interested in ecologically sustainable farms and food systems—adopts a theme rooted in sustainability, and this year’s is “Raising Eco Farmers’ Voices.”

Whether you’re a seasoned organic farmer, a community gardener or an individual looking to be more involved and connected to like-minded folks and the food chain, the EcoFarm Conference is sure to inspire and educate.

On the topic of GMOs, scientific leaders will provide strategies for resisting their spread and offer progress updates regarding efforts to put mandatory labeling of food containing GMOs, on the November 2012 ballot. There will also be a training session for those interested in helping gather signatures for this endeavor.


OutsideAtAsilomarA few of the many timely sessions will include “Organic Agriculture as a Strategic Tool for Global Change,” which will discuss organic farming as a foundation of a green economy; “Food Hubs and Values-Based Supply Chains,” which will show new and emerging food distribution networks from field to fork; and “Farmer Training Programs: Incubators, Mentorships and More,” which will speak to those looking to get their feet wet as a farmer but not ready to give up their day jobs before learning if farming is for them.

You’ll be able to gain some preserving tips at the session, “Extend the Harvest with Fermentation,” and learn about the ancient art of fermenting for health benefits, from our local friends at Farmhouse Culture, a Santa Cruz-based kraut business, and Happy Girl Kitchen Co. of Pacific Grove. “Human Health Benefits of Grassfed Livestock” will discuss how grass–based diets enhance the antioxidants, proteins and vitamin contents of meat, milk and eggs—and should be eye opening.

On Thursday, the Artisan Cheese and Beer Tasting happens from 12 to 2pm in the outdoor tent while seed and fertilizer companies talk up their products and give out free samples. Thursday evening continues the celebration with an organic wine tasting ($25) at 5:30pm in Merrill Hall, which proves to be a social highlight great for networking and meeting new friends. There are mixers galore, so find your niche, whether it be Landscapers Unite!, a networking event for ecological landscapers, or the Seed Swap, where heirloom seeds can be found and traded, both from 7:30 to 10pm. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher mixer runs from 8 to 9:30pm, and there will be an ecologically minded movie at 8:30pm. There is even a 9pm Talent Show, which is always a creative and hilarious experience.

The event features more than 60 workshops, educational and social mixers, beer and wine tasting and the infamous Friday night dance where a live band plays and the ground shakes.

Day passes may be purchased at the door or by calling 831.655.9924.

The conference sponsor, the Ecological Farming Association, is based in Soquel and its mission is to nurturing healthy and just farms, food systems, communities and environment by bringing people together to learn, build alliances and celebrate.

Farmers, marketers, activists, consumers and educators—get ready to be inspired! —Staff reports

About the author

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At Edible Monterey Bay, our mission is to celebrate the local food cultures of Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey Counties, season by season.


  1. This is a great event. I would like for you to know that LabelGMOs volunteer groups are in Monterey and Santa Cruz county. You can find us on Facebook. Join us in our efforts to get labeling of genetically engineered food on the 2012 CA ballot. We have a right to know! For more info., call 831-204-8633. Together we can do this!!

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