Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Old Guard and the Newbies

I spent today at the NOFA/CT conference at Manchester Community College. It was a long day-up at 6, at the college by 7:30, heading back home by 6:00 p.m.  A typical 12 hour day in the life of "on the road with Nancy" in the winter. 

I was so struck by the number of old time NOFA folks that I ran into . Wayne Young of High Hill Orchards was next to me. "30 years!" he said. How is it possible that NOFA/CT is celebrating its 30th anniversary? Come one Wayne, don't you remember the old days, when we met in Al Eliason's living room and all correspondence was done with phone calls and letters in the mail? My dear friend Kris Treat met me at the crack of dawn and helped me overcome my moving in blues. Kris and I worked these NOFA/CT conferences when we were happy to get 50-75 attendees and break even. Today there where 600 attendees! Wow!

Many of them were young and inexperienced and really enthusiastic about everything organic. I met a young couple who lives in a loft in Bridgeport who wanted to grow their own seedlings so they could plant them in a community garden plot they were going to work. I met a woman who spends countless volunteer hours working with gardening in the school system. She volunteers and LOVES every minute of it. It's not just about the plants, she said, it's about chickens and goats and everything else. I met people who were young and enthusiastic and hungry for non-genetically modified, organic food to feed their kids.

Man. When I was president of NOFA/CT back in the day, I would have LOVED this kind of enthusiasm. We just had to convince people that we weren't crazy, hippie radicals. That we really knew what we were talking about. That we weren't just fluffy pie in the sky crazies who dreamed big dreams.

Now, all that I imagined in the 70's, 80's, and early 90's has come home to roost. I no longer have to stand up on my soapbox and explain to the younger generation why organic food and non-genetically modified food is the way to go. They totally get it. They just need to be taught how to do this. That's easy. Emails. Websites. Blogs. Classes. You name it. I'm there. It is refreshing not to have to START by convincing someone that organics is the way to go. They accept that as obvious. Just tell me when to plant my lettuce in the ground. Teach me how to start seedlings. Explain to me what seed saving means. Tell me how to test my soil and make it right. That is EASY. I'm loving it. I have very high hopes for our world. These kids totally get it. And I am there 100% to assist them. 

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