Sunday, February 26, 2012

MOSES Organic Farming Conference 2012

After a long night of rest, I'm ready to get back into the blogo-sphere after attending my first MOSES Organic Farming Conference.  This conference, sponsored by the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service, just finished its 23rd year and saw the greatest attendance to date - over 3,300 people!!  That makes it the largest organic farming conference in North America.

This conference offers an abundance of workshops, activities, films, social and networking opportunities, it can be quite exhausting! But I made the most of my two days there and am back in Milwaukee with pages of notes, a bag full of handouts/resources, and a list of "things to check out" in the coming weeks.  Here are some highlights:

  • Farm Planning and Record Keeping: One of the sessions I attended included a great process for identifying and answering questions about our farm operation that will inform the kinds of records we keep.  Questions such as where to plant, when to plant, and how much seed to buy can best be answered by keeping the right records now.  While spreadsheets and fancy mapping programs on the computer can be useful, I think I'm going to opt for the old-fashioned "pen and paper" method - at least for this year! 
  • Enterprise Budgets: Speaking of records, in most vegetable operations, labor tends to be the most limiting factor in terms of production and ultimately revenue/sales.  So to create an accurate enterprise budget (that is, identifying the income/expenses and profit margin for each crop), I will need to make sure and record how much TIME I and our volunteers/interns are spending per crop.  This sounds time consuming, and may end up being, but I think in the long run it will help us make decisions about which crops are most beneficial to the operation and which might be more work than their worth.
  • Social Media is about being SOCIAL:  After attending a workshop facilitated by Tim and Emily Zweber, of Zweber farms.  They inspired me to keep up with my blog content and maybe even start an Edible Skyline facebook page!  But another take home message for me was to remember that I need to also be active on other blogs and list serves.  The more I can get the Edible Skyline name out there, the more successful we'll be! 
Thanks to Organic Voices, all conference sessions from this year and the past 10 years are recorded and will be available for purchase on their website.  Check 'em out! 

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