I was able to attend the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Conference thanks to a scholarship from the Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network.
I had a wonderful time. I got to see people I met previously and meet even more new people.
Be sure to scroll all the way down to see the pictures I took while at conference!
There was a lot to see and do. Like any trip, there was no way to see and do it all in the time you had. However, there was ample time to meet and discuss outside of class, as well as a wide variety of courses to choose from.
I focused my attention on anything growing related. Here are the courses I attended:
Farming for Beneficial Insects
This course focused on local bees (specifically solitary bees) and how to provide good habitat for them. Also covered was how to identify them vs. imitators and many other topics as well!
Sustainable Tree Fruits and Brambles for the South
I walked out on this because the definition of “sustainable” being taught included spraying, which doesn’t align with our efforts here. Also discussed where new hybrids – another sore topic for me. Mostly the discussion focused on apples and blackberries before I left.
I do not mean any disrespect to presenter, it just was not for me.
Mycorrhizal Fungi For Improved Soil Fertility and Plant Health
Great course about why I do not like to disturb the ground. Tilling damages too much of what happens down in the soil.
Discussion included what is happening in the soil and how it helps us achieve better production in our crops.
Building Soil Organically: Practical Applications and Why They Work
Math Class. This was a discussion about having soil tested and how to compute how much of a particular nutrient you need.
I do not want to have to buy fertilizers, but the principles are sound. One great takeaway was that I did not know that I could have my manure tested to find out what nutrients it would provide to my soil.
Mississippi State Networking
A great session of Mississippi Farmers taking a moment to hash out some issues and to network with each other about solutions. Probably my favorite part of conference.
Capturing and Managing Water on Your Farm
While the great majority of this class was about rain barrels, there was some discussion about what they termed a “water garden”, which was basically berms on contour to help retain water.
Even for the rain barrel part there was good information which I will put to use when I teach a rain barrel course locally in a few months.
Growing Edible Ginger for Local Markets
This was a very interesting class about growing ginger but picking it young. Apparently it has a slightly different flavor profile, but is used just as mature ginger is.
Ginger is something I am interested in as a cash crop and for medicinal uses.
Our Story: Adding Value and Creating Profit on an Urban Farm
A great story from a small farmer who went from pennies to thousands over the course of the years. He discussed some decisions they made and how it helped them succeed.
The takeaway for me: Diversity Pays
Taste of Alabama Dinner
Finally, they feed us. We enjoyed a great meal with food from several local farms. Everything was wonderful. I don’t know what else to say about that!
Check out the menu in the images below:
Gallery of Images from the SSAWG Conference, 2014: