Every two years the North American Biodynamic Association hosts their conference. This was my third, in addition to the international conference I attended at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland. The international conference is held in the same location each year but the North American conference is in a new location each time. This year it was in Portland, Oregon — wahoo!
Being a small part of a much larger community that feels so far away, I try my best to attend this conference. It is usually an inspiring time that reminds me I’m on my correct path and taking the steps to reach my goals. It is also important to connect and reconnect with other biodynamic farmers and gardeners. This year a friend of mine from Emerson and I bunked up and attended together. She flew in from Colorado and we met in time for a wine tasting and AMAZING spread of biodynamic food. They spared nothing in the welcoming ceremony this time around and it was a treat.
The theme of the conference was Transforming the Heart of Agriculture with a focus on soil, justice and regeneration. I think it’s critical that we are an active part of the evolution of agriculture in all contexts, but particularly as a social one too. We cannot just passively sit here and see what unfolds or react as things happen. I find it important to intentionally shape the way we want to see our world, whether you’re a farmer, consumer or something in between. There was much ‘‘food for thought’’ over the 3 day conference.
There were some improvements to the conference and some head-scratchers this year. I enjoyed the opening with the spread of biodynamic foods and wines to kick everything off. However, as the conference started it felt strange like something shifted and I couldn’t quite figure it out. I was missing the old-timers that have spent their lives immersed in the movement. Although in the past they have been on the dry side, their experience and articulation to the movement is something I see critical to carry it forward. I then heard that the board had been purged of these folks and replaced with fresh faces. I don’t know if this is true or not but at the end of the day, it felt more organic and less biodynamic. I am now reconsidering my regular attendance at this conference, as I can attend the local organic one for a fraction of the resources it takes me to make it all happen. Time will tell..