Hello! My name is Danica Mooney-Jones. I am a senior in the Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development major and a Food Systems minor. This coming summer I will be working at Cornercopia and I am very excited to get started farming! This week, some people from Cornercopia and I headed to the MOSES Organic Conference in La Crosse, Wisconsin. I was a composting volunteer, which included changing the compost disposal bags and dragging compost bins to the receptacle area. I was amazed by how much compost was produced by the conference, and by how difficult it was for people to put their utensils, plates, cups, food, and waste into the correct receptacles, especially at an Organic conference where food waste was discussed frequently!
I had to drive down on Friday morning which was too bad because I missed the LGBTQ+ for Land Justice session which I heard was well done. I was able to attend Organic Inputs for Soil Fertility, the In Her Boots Meet & Greet Women in Sustainable Ag session, some of the Keynote, the film Dive!, and the film Grown in Detroit, and the LGBTQ+ meet and greet on Friday. The most interesting parts of Friday for me were meeting young women and LGBTQ+ farmers from around the area. It was awesome to meet people like me in the farming community, and I was able to sit with a lot of them at dinner and we had some really interesting conversations! As a graduating senior, it is great to have an opportunity to make valuable connections with people in my field who I like!
On Saturday, I had more composting shifts, but I still managed to get to the Historia Agricultor Organico, Farming While Black, and some of the Keynote presentations. I was especially glad to hear the emphasis on living wages from Javier Zamora, who is an organic strawberry farmer in California. I think farm laborer wages and labor laws are not well addressed in the public sphere, and so it was good to hear the perspective from a farmer working hard to pay living wages. The Farming While Black presentation by Leah Penniman was also amazing. I am definitely buying her book. She presented an in-depth history of African farming techniques and how they had been co-opted and monetized by non-African people. She then transitioned into talking about how to get more people of color into owning farms and the conversation flowed into people giving/lending land as reparations to help farmers of color. This tied in with what was said at the Keynote by Dayna Burtness Nguyen about lending land to beginning farmers to help kick start the younger generation of farmers so they can get financially stable and have successful businesses not based on debt. There was clearly a theme of land/ knowledge/ political power/ money sharing that was present throughout the conference.
I have always considered myself a very scientific person, and so it was interesting that at MOSES, I was drawn more to the social justice presentations. I think this was partially because I’m in the middle of a lot of science classes, and thus a little tired of scientific lectures. But also, I think this is because I have a hard time with the old/white/hippie attitude of organic (and conventional) farming a lot of the time, and I wanted to find another side to farming that I relate to more. There was clearly a disconnect between the social justice angle that I saw presented at a lot of the workshops I attended compared to the other sessions and the composting “crew’ which were very white. Several people at the LGBTQ+ meet and greet also acknowledged this, saying they felt like there is a disconnect which needs to be addressed and bridged better. One example is that apparently the LGBTQ+ folx at the conference have requested gender neutral bathrooms for years, and not a one was in site!
Overall, I really enjoyed the MOSES conference by making a lot of connections and hearing some really quality presentations by impressive farmers! The MOSES conference inspired me and made me very excited for the Spring which is hopefully coming soon! It was still winter though, and driving back from La Crosse, I managed to get caught in a blizzard! And because I’m from Virginia, I decided to stop driving through the blizzard to stay at a hotel in Rochester, MN. Turns out, I was holed up for two days while the highways were closed! I didn’t even know that could happen! Don’t get stuck out there, folks!
|The Minnesota-nice people who helped dig out my car in Rochester before I found out the highway was closed!|