Venture Grant: Ecological Farming Conference
The Committee for Sustainable Agriculture was established in 1982 to promote a sustainable system of living that is "ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially just." Hence this non for profit organization functions as a networking body uniting individuals, organizations and projects focused on sustainable agriculture. January 22nd- 25th 1997, the committee will sponsor the 17th annual "Ecological Farming Conference" in Monterey, California. For three days over 1000 farmers, wholesalers, retailers, researchers, students and consumers will gather at the largest conference in the west, to discuss the latest sustainable agriculture issues, studies, and technologies. My participation in this conference would be of tremendous benefit not only for any future goals and endeavors, but also for the Colorado College community.
Description of the Ecological Farming Conference:
Sustainable agriculture combines a variety of philosophies, policies and practices in an attempt to integrate the main goals of maintaining environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity in farming practices. The interactive workshops and panel discussions comprising the Ecological Farming Conference will provide a unique educational opportunity for me to experientially expand on my knowledge of sustainable agriculture as a facet of sustainable development. Throughout each day of the conference there will be four workshop sessions, allowing me an opportunity to selectively attend those which are most tailored to my academic and professional interests. Here is a sampling of workshops that I am looking forward to participating in: "Sustainable Communities Through Cooperatives," "Effective Economic Mini-Farming," "Los Principios de la Agricultura Orgánica," and "Natural Systems Agriculture, the Truly Radical Alternative".
In addition to participating in workshops, this conference presents a unique opportunity to learn first hand from several of the most highly acclaimed theorists and advocates of sustainable agriculture. Various speakers will be attending from around the world. To highlight a few who’s work I have been exposed to: Wes Jackson, The Land Institute, Kansas, Bill Mollison, Permaculture Institute, New South Wales, Australia, John Jeavons, Ecology Action, Willits, CA. and Howard Shapiro, Seeds of Change, Santa Fe, NM. Furthermore participating in this conference would afford me a wonderful opportunity to network and interact informally with all of the farmers, consumers, researchers, and other students who be attending the same workshops, discussions, lectures, and meals as I throughout these four incredible days.
Many of my personal and academic experiences over the last few years have greatly contributed to my rising interest in issues of sustainable agriculture and development, hence explaining my overwhelming desire to attend the 1997 Ecological Farming Conference in January.
My most recent relevant experience transpired this past summer when I traveled to Eugene, Oregon to participate in an agroecology apprenticeship program. There I became immersed in the culture of those living at the Lost Valley Educational Center, an intentional community devoted to educating about sustainable living. Mornings were spent working in several large organic gardens learning hands on how to mulch, plant, manage vegetable beds in production, cover crop, seed, harvest, and more! In the afternoons I attended classes on the chemistry soils, feeding, pest management botany, biodynamics, permaculture, as well as sustainable and community supported agriculture. My time at Lost Valley has grounded me with some basic knowledge of current issues in sustainable agriculture which will help facilitate my active participation in the lively discussions bound to occur at the conference.
Traveling to Ecuador in 1993 to teach environmental education in a rural one room school house, was a life experience that directly contributed to developing my keen interest in studying not only sustainable agriculture and development, but also Latin American Studies. For four months I lived on a farm with a family that grew plantains, yucca, potatoes, corn, and a wide array of tropical fruits in a region of Ecuador that fifty years ago was all cloud forest. Seeing and experiencing first hand the effects of deforestation and slash and burn agriculture, sparked my desire to become more highly educated in issues of sustainable agriculture and development. I hope to use my education to work toward establishing a more promising future, where the needs of the present can be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs as well.
In my near future I am hoping to combine my academic interests in Latin American Studies with those of sustainable agriculture, by traveling back to Latin America and involving myself in a development project. I am very interested in studying how sustainable agriculture functions as a component of larger sustainable development issues. To better understand the complexity of sustainable development, second block this fall I am taking a course with Walt Hecox of the economics department entitled, Topics in Economics-Sustainable Development: Managing the Sangres . Attending the 1997 Ecological Farming Conference will also be an invaluable experience, as I will there be able to make specific contacts as well as gain information on the most current sustainable agriculture practices, theories, and working projects.
Benefits to the community:
Throughout my last year as a matriculating student here at The Colorado College, I have observed. how issues of sustainable agriculture and development are very popular among the community. There are numerous courses related to sustainable agriculture offered in the economics, biology and environmental science, anthropology, and even sociology departments. After attending the ecological farming conference, I plan to immediately return to campus and relay my knowledge of the latest developments in the field to students and faculty who possess a keen interest in the subject. ________, a senior anthropology major is also applying to attend the this conference, and we have already begun brainstorming plans to hold a panel discussion as well as a workshop the week we return from California. Additionally, to further educate the Colorado College community on what I learned at this conference I plan to submit an article to the catalyst based on something I learned from the workshops and lectures.
Budget to attend the Ecological Farming Conference from January 22nd-25th 1997:
Airfare (round-trip) to Monterey, CA $300.00
Conference package fee $350.00
includes room, board, and tuition for four day conference
room and board
Other costs $0.00
I will incur any other necessary costs.
Total amount requested $650.00
I want to thank you very much for taking the time to consider my application to receive a venture grant to attend the 17th annual Ecological Farming Conference. I would like to reiterate that my attendance at this conference would be extremely valuable and beneficial not only for my personal and professional growth, but also for the Colorado College campus. I hope you will see the merit in allowing me the opportunity to participate in such important discussions surrounding the future of our global community.