In January, I was lucky enough to attend the annual Winter Conference of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY). This year's theme was a nod to that all-around health- and equity-promoting principle: “Diggin' Diversity.” Fittingly, presenters took this theme in several different directions, speaking on the necessity of diversification of crops and animals, schools of farming, and, most importantly, people.
This was my second time attending the conference, but looking around, it was clear that this was some folks' 15th, 20th, even 30th+ year of involvement with NOFA. Over the decades, NOFA has managed to serve as a common ground for both organic pioneers and young activists. It's no small feat; often, sustainable agriculture programs are led by Generation Y, for Generation Y. Refreshingly, nearly every workshop at a NOFA conference begins or ends with a word of acknowledgment to the numerous older farmers present who blazed the trail, and a blessing to the young farmers just setting out on their journey.
NOFA has certainly succeeded in building a multigenerational organization that fosters communication and mutual respect among age groups. Now, NOFA is beginning to address the ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic monoculture that has dominated its membership for quite some time.