On August 29th the Essex Farm Institute will host a Public Forum at the Whallonsburg Grange Hall. The forum topic is: “Resilient Farms, Resilient Community: How can agriculture help the Adirondacks respond to climate change?” The forum will begin at 6:30 pm, but stop by earlier as Northern Feast Catering will be serving sweet and savory crepes using local ingredients from 5:00 pm – 6:15 pm.
Special guest at the forum is Anthony Flaccovento, organic farmer, small business owner and community activist. He will speak about how communities and farms can work together to fight climate change through healthy agriculture. A Q&A with Anthony and Essex Farm Institute staff will follow the presentation. Copies of Anthony’s new book, Building a Healthy Economy from the Bottom Up, will be for sale following the event.
Racey Henderson, Program Coordinator at Essex Farm Institute, answered some questions and gave more insight into the forum and about the Essex Farm Institute and its programming and development.
This public forum will focus on how certain agricultural practices can help combat/respond to climate change, but will there be other topics covered?
Yes. We will introduce Essex Farm Institute (EFI) and its expanded programming. Anthony will also discuss broader components of building healthy rural economies from the bottom up, such as how to structure your community to best improve livelihoods (more jobs, better transportation of people and things, for example), and thus make it possible for folks to afford to buy local food. We will have almost as much Q&A time as presentation time, so we can cover any topics that folks are interested in. Anthony is an organic farmer, expert in community building and rural economies.
Are more public forums like this planned for the future to help educate the community and/or get them involved with local agriculture?
Yes! Each year, EFI intends to hold at least one Public Forum to engage the local eaters and farm supporters. EFI’s mission is to support, promote and train beginning farmers to build resilient diversified farms that are economically viable, socially responsible and environmental beneficial. The Institute currently focuses on those who are actively farming, whether as farmhands, interns, volunteers or farm owners themselves. However, a critical piece of promoting resilient farmers and farms is to ensure that the market for farm produce exists, and that means engaging consumers is critical to EFI’s mission as well.
Can you give us an overview of the Essex Farm Institute, how it has evolved, and how EFI hopes to develop/grow in the future?
The Essex Farm Institute (EFI) was founded four years ago by a group of local farmers, educators and activists. Driven by the success that Kristin and Mark Kimball have had shepherding new farmers through their ranks and on to their own farms (12 new farms have been started by Essex Farm Alumni in 10 years), the institute originally began with the intention of creating a hands-on agricultural school at Essex Farm. In 2015, this original vision was expanded to include support, promotion and training of new farmers across the Adirondacks and the North Country of NY. 2016 is a transition year for EFI, as it kicks its programming and continuing educational opportunities into high gear on farms across the region.
EFI’s 2016 team is made up of a program coordinator, a volunteer administrator and a 7 member Board of Directors.
EFI’s programs in 2016 include Farm Walks and hands-on training workshops, which cover basic farm skills (chain saw use, welding), high-density rotational grazing, the realities of start-ups, IPM, high tunnels, and summer cover crops. Topics are chosen in response to the expressed needs of area farmers. The Institute will continue its programming through the winter with a series of welding workshops and business administration trainings that will bring in expert trainers from around the region. EFI expects that 2017 will bring another exciting year of continuing education training opportunities for farmers, institutional strategic planning and re-engagement with our donor base. The Public Forum will become an annual event, and a Farm to Table Benefit Dinner will also be held.
Learn more about the upcoming Public Forum on August 29 at essexfarminstitute.org.
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