The Huntingdon County Farmers’ Market celebrated the launch of a new series of mini-conferences with world-renowned permaculture specialist, Stefan Sobkowiak, during the August 16 market in Huntingdon’s Prince-Arthur Park.
Over thirty individuals came out to the market to take in the presentation by Mr. Sobkowiak, the owner of Miracle Farm, a permaculture orchard located in Saint-Anicet but recognized throughout the world. A model for no-input, diversified and abundant fruit production using innovative techniques to reduce or eliminate the need of fertilizers and pesticides, Mr. Sobkowiak shared his technique for producing fruit and vegetables at his members only u-pick farm. He also made available a selection of fruit trees and shrubs from his orchard to those in attendance at the conference.
“It was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate Public Markets Week with a local speaker of his renown,” said Ian Ward, the Coordinator for the Farmers’ Market. “Attendance was excellent, and people seemed very appreciative of the opportunity to learn how to grow fruits and vegetables with very few inputs,” he added, noting that while the conference was only scheduled for thirty minutes Mr. Sobkowiak generously stayed for an extra hour to take questions.
Mini conferences at the market
With the goal of promoting local producers and encouraging consumers to become more aware of where their food is coming from, the administrative board behind the Farmers’ Market decided to initiate a series of five mini-conferences this summer. With the help of funding through the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food as well as the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent’s Territory Development Fund, the conferences are designed to be as informative as they are participative. “We feel the Market space is a community space, so it makes sense to use it to help people to learn about agriculture and the incredible diversity of farmers in the Valley,’ says Ian Ward.
The next conference on August 23 will focus on Compost as both a key player in maintaining healthy soil and waste reduction with Émilie Escafit, the Waste Management Coordinator for the haut-Saint-Laurent MRC. On September 6, the Market will play host to a very large piece of agriculture machinery and the UPA for a conference on safety and sharing the road with agricultural vehicles. This will be followed on September 13 with an introduction to the modern dairy farm, the dairy industry and how it is continuing to evolve in our region. Finally, on September 20, visitors to the market will be enticed by the sweet taste of honey, as two producers contrast their honey systems while discussing the essential role bees play in how our food is grown.
For more information on upcoming conferences or the Huntingdon County Farmers’ Market in general, visit the website at www.marchefermierhuntingdon.ca.