Published Jul 30, 2009


By Luke Gran

Mike McGrath, the former editor of Organic Gardening and host of “You Bet Your Garden” on NPR. SSE photo by Kyrl Henderson

Hey there Folks,

As PFI Next Generation Coordinator, I attended the Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) annual conference July 17-19 in Decorah, IA. It was the largest Annual Conference and Campout ever with over 350 participants.

My reason to attend the conference was to make connections with new farmers from around the midwest, and to identify more supporters of PFI’s next generation programming.

All weekend there were great programs and speakers as well as a community of flavorful food loving people. Attendees came from all over America.

The facilities at Seed Savers are top notch. I got to tour the seed storing and preservation rooms, where the seed I order for my garden gets processed, packaged, and shipped.

As anticipated, the food was delicious featuring the local fare available in July from around northeast Iowa. Everyone was talking about the incredible flavor of the grass-fed meats sourced by PFI members Ryan and Kristine Jepsen’sGrass-Run Farm” of Dorchester, IA. Caterer Ede’s Gourmet of Decorah prepared juicy Capon, and Smoked Pork to perfection.

I made a great connection with Edible Iowa River Valley editors Kurt Friese and Kim McWane Friese whose most recent article featured ancient heritage beef cattle grazing on pastures at the Heritage Farm.

Saturday night Barn Dancing kept up until late in the night and featured a local fiddlin’ bass pluckin’ and finger pickin’ ensemble with a caller.

Eliot Coleman demonstrating winter harvest practices in the moveable high tunnel greenhouse at Annual Conference & Campout in Decorah, Iowa. SSE photo by Kyrl Henderson

Keynote by Organic production pioneer and season extension innovator Eliot Coleman was inspiring. Mr. Coleman proudly shared the story about how far organic and local food production movements have come and the confidence that he has in the next generation leading us to new plateaus never before imagined.

I couldn’t agree more about the next generation.

Note: Readers of this blog who are interested in farming and not yet members of PFI are encouraged to contact Luke for more information about how to network with other farmers, participate and learn from our farmer members at Field Days, our annual conference, and by reading our informative quarterly newsletter. Joining PFI is easy, affordable, and online!