MOSES Conference, La Crosse, WI

The last weekend of February, I was lucky enough to attend the MOSES (Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service) Organic Farming Conference in beautiful, frigid La Crosse, Wisconsin. Along with over three thousand other attendees, I spent a glorious weekend meeting other farmers, encountering new ideas, and above all being reminded how much I still have to learn. I was able to attend the conference thanks to a scholarship through the New Organic Stewards program, which encourages young and  beginning farmers to attend the conference. At the conference, the New Organic Stewards also organized plenty of formal and informal ways to meet other young farmers from across the midwest.

It was at one such gathering where the idea for this website was born. First sprawled in an extra conference room in the convention center and later over beers and sandwiches at a local pub, we talked for hours about the farms we envision for our future selves. While I'll probably spend quite a few blog posts in the future parsing and rehashing many of our discussions that night (and that weekend), right now I'd just like to share how that conversation was the impetus for this site, and this blog. On the Planning the Farm section of this site, you can read about my vision for a future farm. One thing you will notice is integral to my future plans is unnamed other farmers. That's where this site comes in. "What if," I recall saying late that night, "I could just put up, like, a personal ad. You know, like in the newspaper? Instead of 'Single white male seeks younger woman for ballroom dancing, fun' I could be all like, "Young farmer seeks other young farmers to join her in a long-term adventure, whole diet food production.' " There were murmurs and nods of agreement around the circle. "Except," I continued, "I guess you would need a lot more information than a little personal ad. To find the right people, you would have to explain your whole idea, and it would have to reach the whole country. No newspaper can do that."

That's precisely when we remembered the one tool our generation of farmers has been able to harness that our forebears didn't have at their disposal: the World Wide Web! The Internet! The Interwebz! Somewhere, in the midst of the brambles of black market pharmaceuticals, pop-up ads, and porn, I could clear a patch and plant my little seed of an idea. I could wax poetical about that future farm all I wanted! Back in that bar in La Crosse, the idea took root (am I mixing my metaphors yet?): I could create a website for a farm that does not yet exist, using it as a way to find potential partners, and maybe even investors. As I embark on my first full season farming in one place, I could use the site to document my own growth and education as a young farmer. By the time I am farming land I can call (at least partially) my own, I will have left an internet trail that other young farmers can follow, perhaps emboldened by my example and wiser for my mistakes. In the next few weeks and months, no doubt my blog posts will be inspired by and make repeated reference to the MOSES Conference. Indeed, I have a complete mp3 set of all of the conference workshops burning a hole in my backpack! For now, I'm glad for the inspiration the conference provided, both to undertake this website and blog and as fuel for the farming season ahead. No matter where I find myself next winter, you can be sure that a trip to a regional conference like MOSES will feature prominently on my calendar.