Archive for February, 2011


NOFAVT‘s Winter Conference was held the weekend of the 12th at UVM and it was amazing!  It was the first year that I had attended one of NOFA’s conferences and I am so proud of what they are trying to do!  Here is my Saturday from the conference in review.  I was trying to take notes throughout the day, so it may seem a little staggered, but I wanted to present my real first reactions throughout the day, not a summary later on. 

Shovel Ready, Shovel Sharp!
7 am:
We’re on the bus, ready to feed both my mind and my stomach with good food and a homesteading mindful of information! The morning is cold (10 degrees Fahrenheit), but not unbearably so for a February in Vermont. I’m excited about meeting these people who have worked so hard to form a life that suits them best, but I am also apprehensive. No matter how much reading I have done on the subject or how well I think I share their feelings about organic farming and my own experiences, I can’t help but feel that I am walking into another world of the great unknown. Will I truly be able to understand their motives and share in their enthusiasm? Will my own ideals and hopes for the future mesh with these amazingly resourceful do-it-yourself-er’s, or will I stick out like a…well, a black thumb?
NOFAVT Opening Remarks and Keynote Speech: Shannon Hayes (9 am)
Walking into the main hub of this year’s winter conference was like walking into another world – one where 1,200 people could gather together to share experiences, products, stories, and information about the importance of feeding our future with the best that we can offer – the gift of growing for ourselves. We all sang a happy birthday tune for NOFAVT, which was fun and gave me a good perspective of the family like atmosphere of the conference. Next, Shannon Hayes gave her keynote speech. Through Green Mountain College, I have had the luxury of attending quite a few lectures, addresses, and persuasive speeches about everything from environmentalism, farming, community, and America’s future. But I have never heard someone speak so beautifully about all of these subjects together in one speech, simply stating what we have been choosing to ignore and hide from for decades. I was enthralled and inspired – I don’t believe that NOFAVT could have done any better for this year’s keynote speaker.
 

Workshop # 1 and Lunch (11-2 pm):
The first workshop that I attended was called “Exploring the Taste of Place” and revolved around the idea of Terroir, the belief that food has a unique taste to the place in which the food originated from. The presenters mainly focused on documenting Terroir in Vermont cheeses and Maple Syrup, both being products with significant attributes to this wonderful state. It was interesting and thought provoking, making myself and another student from UVM begin to broaden our understanding of Terroir into other foods and places. As for lunch, the food was amazing! After the Terroir workshop, it made the food we were partaking in that much more enjoyable. At the risk of sounding like a hippy from my parent’s generation, I could taste the love and care that went into every bite of that meal, something we all too rarely get to experience. Eating our consumer driven mainstream food everyday is all well and good after you become used to it and you don’t realize what you are missing, until someone hands you plate of fresh salad, homemade turkey stew, and an apple crisp with real thick whipped cream with cinnamon and says “try some of them apples!” Suddenly, it’s like waking up and realizing that you’ve been asleep for most of your life. That’s what good food can do. It can be the trigger that pulls you out of your comfortably furnished lifestyle of consumer culture and puts the bang back into your reality. I love this approach – after all, the best way into any persons heart and mind is through their stomach.
` There was live music on the first floor, drifting all the way up to the exhibition halls, playing Viva Las Vegas of all songs. They were extremely talented and made all of the conversation and interactions taking place on four floors move with perfect tempo. Bernie Sanders and Peter Shumlin both made an appearance for lunch and gave compelling and persuasive speeches on the importance of NOFAVT and the pride they took in being a part of it. Their speeches used words of encouragement and reiterated Hayes’ call for an evolutionary and radical change for the control over our food resources.

Radical Homemakers and Urban Beekeeping Workshops (2-5 pm):

I even struck up a conversation with a woman next to me before Hayes workshop began over the importance of what NOFAVT is trying to do. She expressed a desire to see communities created for older generations that also want to do their part, creating gardens and subsisting off the land, living together and spreading the food and skills they acquire to those around them. She wanted me to know her enthusiasm and aspirations because “you are the future, so I want to tell you how we feel about our food and communities.” Hayes’ workshop was the best one I attended all day, and was obviously packed with people who thought the same. There was definitely not enough time though, as I would have loved her question and answer period to continue for at least another hour. My urban beekeeping workshop was interesting, but I think it was made better because I had already read Farm City, which put a lot of what our presenter was saying into perspective.
Ice cream Social and Green Horn Film Preview (5-7 pm):
The ice cream social was unbelievable. There was carrot cake with real cream cheese icing (to die for) and the ice cream was the best I have ever had. As one student put it, “it tastes like REAL COW, you know?!?!” Yes, I did know – I understood perfectly what she was saying and I think everyone in that room did as well. What brought them to this conference was either a desire to change their lifestyle and learn how to do it or people who had already found their calling in life and were there to share their information with those who could put it to good use. I think what made the biggest impression for me on Saturday was the collaboration. Here we are, this small state, with a very nearly even split of young and old, bonding over an ideal. The future meets the inspiration of our past, fighting to redefine progress by recapturing our roots. I have never felt more proud of my state and of a movement then I did this weekend and I may have found my true calling – I was a farmer and I will be so much more than that once again.
                                                                                         

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Trip to Burlington with the gang!   We spent the day hanging out on Church street marketplace in Burlington, which was awesome!  It was also really cold, but we just kept ducking into shops and did some window shopping.  Then we had lunch at Ri Ra’s, an Irish pub amongst the stores.  It was amazing!!  The food was soooooooooo good.  I had a barbeque burger which had their own recipe of sauce and onion rings, along with sweet potatoe fries – all I can say is wow!  I wasn’t hungry for the rest of the day.   After leaving and trying not to get our truck stuck in the car park we went to Barns & Nobles for a while, just to browse, which is my favorite thing to do!  Next, we hit Burlington’s  Cheese Traders!  This place is awsome.  If you have never been, you’re missing out on the best selection of wine, cheese, local foods, and just an amazing assortment of really good eats with really good prices!  After that, we made our trip home, hitting the seek button on the radio and singing along to whatever we could find.  We watched the Glass Bottom Boat, one of my absolute favorite movies!  A totally awesome day out with friends, I will never forget it!

       

    

Sorry everyone – it’s been quite a while and I never did catch up like I thought I would!  The post below and a subsequent few for the future may seem a little outdated, but I didn’t want to just leave them sitting in my drafts folder, so I’m posting them anyway.  Hope you don’t mind, and if you read any of them, thanks!  More soon hopefully!

January and February in review:

I can honestly say I have socialized more in this past month then I think I ever have at one time. Believe it, for me, that’s saying something. All of it is due to some very awesome friends my family has come to know and have whisked me away into the world of outings, laughter, and best of all, the joy of spontaneity.  With that being said, I doubt I can really do justice to highlighting all of my misadventures within the next few blog posts, but for my own records (as we know, nothing ever dies once it’s published on the internet!), I’m going to try my best to at least hint at a few.

January: Yeah……let’s just say, lot’s of good things happened in here, because by now I can’t remember any of them anymore.

February: First large blizzard of the month was of course the day we also decided to have an adventure in Glens Falls.  We spent at least an hour getting lost in and around Queensbury (by the way, there is a lot more to that city then meets the eye, worth another trip sometime) before finally finding our way into down town Glens Falls.  The plan was to hit Adventure Family Fun Time center and then go to Aimie’s Dinner and a Movie restaraunt.  Unfortunately, the weather had other plans for us.  We did wind up having a blast at the Fun place though – it was a day of first for me!  I had never driven bumper cars, fired paintballs, never played guitar hero, and had only done laser tag once before!  I felt like a kid in a giant toy store for the first time.  Everyone kept looking at me like I was nuts, and maybe I was – I was by far the most excited person there and also the oldest by about ten years in comparison to the other customers.

Free Wing night: Looking at my mini cooper, window shopping, then hanging out with friends over free wings, nachos, and other good food.  What could be more epic 🙂

Tuesday: hahah eehhh….yeah, another day of firsts.  I had my first car accident.  Wow, yeah really scary.  It wasn’t even off my dead end road, it would have been a lot worse if we had been going faster, but it was still bad enough that the “new” car is going to be…..well, needing a new door.  You know, I always thought that if I got in a car accident, a few things would happen differently.  I actually thought that one of the things I would remember most is the song that was playing on the radio when it happened and that everything would kind of slow down while it happened.  It didn’t.  I don’t have a clue what was playing on the radio and it went so fast that everything was kind of a blur.  It didn’t even occur to me until later that I might have actually been hurt quite badly if either car had been going faster, as it was my drivers side door that was crushed in.  Oh, plus the airbags didn’t go off, so I really like Ford’s now.  I like my Volkswagon personally, and though the circumstances are not ideal, I am happy to be driving my old car again, whether it’s on it’s death bed or not.

Friday night’s “surprise” party which wasn’t: Hanging out with friends at the Lakehouse Pub and Grille, meeting new people, and laughing at other people who drank too much.  It was fun 🙂

Saturday was a going away party for my very good friend who is leaving for the army (in basic for 17 weeks).  Another day of firsts: meeting the family is always an adventure 😉  Dinner was delicious though and definitely worth the harrowing drive to Castleton – we determinned that since the night had been planned weeks in advance, that was why there was a monster of a Vermont snow storm.

Tuesday: Best French Toast I have ever had was at Johnny Boy’s Pancake House in Rutland!!

Now, I can’t remember where in all this it happened, but somewhere along the line my attempts to acquire a job in Alaska for the summer actually happened.  I got a phone interview with Denali Visions 3000’s series of businesses located right outside of Denali National Park and I am now employed as a cashier at the only grocery store in the town….yeah, little scary, but also an adventure!  I will be leaving right after graduation from college, which will be May 14th for a six day driving trip to my summer of a lifetime.  I’ll tell you all about it some more when I have the time to realize I’m actually going now!!

Been a tough week all around, just trying to get used to not being around people that we care about.  Anyways, I know this is all a little all over the place, but a lot has happened in the last month, mostly good, and I wanted to at least document some of it.  Unfortunately, being busy and all like the rest of you, I didn’t get a chance to recount most of it until I had forgotten most of the details.  Either way, I’m glad I managed to take down a few key moments to remember!

It’s A French Toast Emergency!

“A French Toast Emergency” was one of my Pop-pop’s favorite winter sayings. Everyone rushes to the store before a big storm to buy the essentials: milk, bread, and eggs. Everything is closing down, while good ol’ Green Mountain College stays open, just like always. Soon, we’ll be the only place left open in Vermont! Either way, I’m taking a snow day – there’s no way I’m going to be able to move my car in this and with my luck with vehicles lately, I’d rather not take a chance!
With that said, it’s been a month since I have written anything on this blog, and I have mixed feelings. I feel bad because I liked that I was keeping sort of a “online diary” of sorts, but I feel good on the other hand because it means I was too busy enjoying my life to spend it glued to a computer screen. Now, in my last semester in college, I’m as glued as ever, so I figure it’s a good chance to get caught up again. Not sure I can really recap everything that’s happened in the last month, but I’m going to try.
Anyways, until then, everyone stay safe and warm, stay inside, and have a snow day!