The conference opens at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 25 at Hofstra University. Register now and adults pay $25 (it will go up to $35 after April 10). Children, elementary, high school and Hofstra students go free, but still must register. Other college students pay $15. The plenary speaker will be Stephen Ritz, the South Bronx educator who has taught his students not just urban farming, but how to make viable careers out of it. Those who saw Ritz speak at the last conference in 2012 will know just how dynamic and inspiring this guy is, but if you don’t, check out his TED talk on the Green Bronx Machine and be convinced you need to hear his story in person.
There will be four sessions of workshops on topics such as four-season organic gardening, food justice and policy, eating for health, sustainable investment and natural pest elimination. The kids will have workshops too, on topics like bees, worm composting and making butter (they must be accompanied by a parent). Exhibitors include local farms and community gardens, holistic health providers, earth-friendly products and more. Registration for exhibitors ends this week, so get your table now.
The mission of the conference, spearheaded by the North Shore Land Alliance, is to bring together as many constituents as possible to share, learn and, if you will forgive the pun, grow. This is the third time the conference takes place; about 700 people attended each of the previous two. The NSLA hopes to develop a separate not-for-profit to run the conference and related workshups on a more regular basis. It provides a wonderful opportunity to connect with other people who share your interest in food from the ground up; some of the people I met at the last one have become people I collaborate today. To this end, the conference will end in a networking reception with light refreshments. Edible Long Island is a sponsor of this event.