Last month we sent four staff members to the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (TOFGA) Conference. TOFGA is a statewide non-profit organization focused on education and advocacy for Texas farmers, ranchers, and gardeners who practice organic and sustainable methods. Each year TOFGA members, as well as supporters and students, get together for a 3 day conference to share experiences, network and increase their understanding of the current opportunities and challenges around organic agriculture in Texas.
This year Andrew Smiley, TOFGA President and former SFC Deputy Director, opened the conference with a compelling plenary: Growing Resilience. Andrew discussed post-Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in the Corpus Christi area. Community leaders, farmers, and ranchers shared their personal experiences with Harvey, the impact on the farming community and the rebuilding effort that ensued. These stories were compelling and grounding. They demonstrated the value of community resilience in the face of tragedy and the need to adjust growing practices to account for climactic events.
Ellen Polishuk, a longtime down-to-earth vegetable farmer, farming consultant, and speaker presented an eloquent analysis of the importance of soil restoration. Other speakers included Sue Beckwith, the Executive Director of the Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF), Aislynn Campbell, Founder and Executive Director of GROW Local South Texas and three SFC staff: Adrienne Haschke, Farm Direct Program Director, Hilda Gutiérrez, Food Access Director and Sayuri Yamanaka, Community Engagement Manager.
Throughout the event, we enjoyed delicious recipes featuring local ingredients. Between radishes, chicken & waffles, and goat cheese deserts, participants discussed their common interests and identified the need to stay active in the Texas food systems community. Two opportunities rose to the top: The Farm & Food Leadership Conference co-hosted by the Small Producers Initiative at Texas State University and the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) on August 12-13 and Lobby Day on May 2nd at the Texas Capitol.
We hope to see you at these upcoming events!
For more information about the TOFGA visit: http://tofga.org/.
For more details about the upcoming Farm & Food Leadership Conference visit: https://www.smallproducersinitiative.txstate.edu/.
To learn about policy events and grassroots efforts lead by FARFA email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To know more about SFC’s policy priorities this Legislative Session visit: https://sustainablefoodcenter.org/programs/policy.