Annual Conference Review (and 2016 Preview!)

CircleHands“Women Protecting Pollinators, Protecting Food” was the theme of the 2015 WFAN annual conference, held Nov. 6 – 7 at the Radisson Quad City Plaza in downtown Davenport, IA. About 180 women (and a few men) attended the event, which featured two half-day intensives (pollinators and women’s leadership) and three field tours on Friday, as well as a beginning farmer gathering that included both a peer discussion and a visit to Beacon Woods Farm near Milan, IL.

A Friday evening tasting event drew more than 75 people to the Quad Cities Food Hub, where local chef Nicolette Petty prepared a variety of heavy hors d’oeuvres and locally sourced wines and beers were served. Later that evening, Iowa poet laureate Mary Swander’s play “Map of My Kingdom” was performed by Chicago actress Cora Vander Broek, followed by a community discussion of farmland transfer.

Saturday morning, keynote speaker Dr. Robin Kimmerer left few dry eyes in the crowd of nearly 200, as she spoke about living in reciprocity with the land. Saturday workshops ranged from more information on pollinators and building a back yard bat box to connections among food, faith and climate, and a very popular session on eco-feminist activism. You can find copies of many of the presentations on the conference website.

The Radisson chef and catering staff provided a fantastic lunch buffet featuring local foods, and the conference capped off with a casual gathering in the hotel restaurant area hosted by the WFAN board. Evaluations included the following comments:

  • Good wide range of topics. Nice mix of participants. It's invaluable getting people together to meet, network, share the work they are doing....and not feel so isolated.
  • What a rejuvenating 1.5 days! (when do you say that from returning from a conference?!)
  • Was fantastic! Can't wait for next year.

Mark your calendar for next year’s conference, Nov. 4 and 5 at Lied Lodge and Conference Center, Nebraska City, NE. Check the conference web page for continual updates! Registration will open in June.

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