Just Food Conference is coming up on the weekend of April 5-6. I have been following Just Food for some time now. Since 1995, their role has been to empower and support community groups in their efforts to increase access to local, sustainable food. I’ve been putting their values into practice. I have a batch of sauerkraut fermenting on my counter that I canned with Jeffrey Yoskowitz of the Gefilteria at his pickling workshop at Congregation Beth Elohim this past Thursday. And of course, our tomato seedlings sit in the window soaking up some rays of what has seemed like an endless winter that is finally breaking. This will in fact be my first year attending the Just Food Conference, but I have a feeling it might usurp the rose blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and NYC Punk Rock and Underground Record Fair as the first sign that spring has sprung.
Just Food helps start and run projects like CSA’s, farmer’s markets, and city chicken projects. More generally, they help people think through ways that they can create access to whole, sustainable food within their own neighborhoods, in ways that work best for their own needs and proclivities. This means helping people and communities do things for themselves, including advocating for themselves at the city, state, and federal level.
The conference’s two days have slightly different setups and purposes. Saturday is composed of various four- to five-hour “intensives,” workshops led by leaders and innovators in various fields of urban sustainable food culture. These are meant to give an immersive experience within one area of local, small-scale food production and distribution. The cost varies for each intensive from $55-185. I’m currently waffling between “Cooking for Sustainability” and “Urban Foraging: Wild Edible Plants in NYC.” Sunday is more of a traditional convention format, with various shorter 75-minute workshops and panel discussions from 10:45-4:00. Admission for Sunday is $70.
Of course I must also address the gorilla looming in the center of the room—yes, the Just Food Conference overlaps with our own Baby & Family Expo. My solution: get a sitter for Saturday and go to one of the Just Food Intensives, then strap on the carrier and bring the kiddies to the Baby Expo Sunday! And hopefully, if we are united in our statement of purpose, Mother Nature will acquiesce that spring is finally here.