Missouri Organic Convention Provides Learning Opportunities for Farmers and Foodies

by Nancy Smith

The Missouri Organic Convention leads the nation in opportunities for hands-on learning about growing and eating organic. Right here in our home state, nationally-renowned speakers speak on topics that are on the cutting edge of food issues. The 2013 convention will take place in Springfield, MO on February 7-9, 2013.

At the 2012 conference, Jeffrey Smith, a highly respected anti-GMO speaker, opened the eyes of hundreds of participants as he named study after study which has proven that severe harm can result from eating foods with genetically modified ingredients. The year before, Randall Agrella of Baker Creek Seeds presented a workshop that enabled participants to get their hands dirty (literally) as they mashed up tomato pulp and extracted the seeds. It speaks volumes about the dedication of MOA members that all the people who attended that workshop were mesmerized to see tomato pulp with just the right kind of mold on it to make the seeds viable.

Many of the speakers and vendors at this popular annual conference call the region home, and their topics should be dear to the hearts of many local farmers, gardeners and entrepreneurs. A few examples of the thirty-three scheduled world-class speakers are:
Cindy Bousman of Evening Shade Farms, Osceola, MO. Cindy has lived on the farm for more than 30 years. Members of her family have been good stewards of their land, and are deeply committed to sound environmental practices because they know nature holds many answers to healing.

Penny Frazier, Wild Crops Farm, Salem, MO. The Fraziers work exclusively with certified organic wild harvested forest products. They have developed a number of social and environmental theories which support their mission to “create a demand for a wild product in order to create a demand for wilderness”. Penny and her husband, George, do demonstrations of a distillation process for essential oils they designed, and teach about wild products.

Nancy Smith, Herbal Comfort, Doniphan, MO. The author of this article has spent over 40 years growing herbs, flowers and vegetables organically. In fact, she doesn’t know any other way of growing. She has been experimenting with various plant companionships over the years, and her presentations go way beyond the usual suggestions. Edible landscaping is another passion of hers, and she will show many interesting combinations to make it easy and beautiful to “eat your yard”.

Terry Durham, Elderberries for Life, Hartsburg, MO. Terry is a pioneer in the relatively new field of growing elderberries and producing health-giving elixirs, jellies and juices. Due largely to his efforts, this is a fast-growing farm industry in Missouri. Terry has become an expert in propagating and growing several varieties of elderberry on his Hartsburg farm, as well as helping others to grow their own elderberry businesses.

Janet Hurst, Hermann, MO. Like many farms in the Ozarks, goats have been a “part of things” on Janet’s farm. Making cheese is a great way to use the resulting goat milk. Janet’s cheese-making workshops are always well-attended and heartily enjoyed. Participants are enabled to put cheese-making to good use on their own farms or in their urban kitchens.

You do not have to be certified organic to attend, nor do you have to be a farmer. Great care is taken by the board of MOA to ensure that there are speakers and workshops for everyone.

What do all the members of MOA have in common? They share a love for Mother Earth and creative ideas to preserve biodiversity.

To learn more, see the MOA ad on page 15 this issue of The Healthy Planet magazine.