At California’s annual Eco-Farm conference, some 1,400-1,500 organic farmers, farmhands, Big Organic marketers, and sundry sustainable-ag enthusiasts pack into a rustic, beautiful seaside conference center an hour-and-a-half south of San Francisco to talk seeds, weeds, and agribiz misdeeds amid the dunes. I loved it when I attended in 2008. At the Asilomar center overlooking Monterery Bay—incidentally, the site of a seminal meeting of scientists and lawyers about how to proceed with GMO research way back in 1975—there’s no brain-sucking hotel auditorium, no day upon day of artificial light and processed air. Break-out sessions take place in scattered bungalows, linked by trails through rolling dunes. The low roar in the background isn’t some infernal highway; rather, waves lashing up against a rocky shore. It’s a bit like summer camp for sustainable-ag nerds: You wind up outdoors a lot, wandering from activity to activity, often pelted by rain.
I’ll be there for the next several days, filing dispatches as possible. I’m also giving a talk on how it’s up to communities to create alternative food systems in an era of outright industry capture of regulation and food policy. Here is the schedule.