The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) Winter Conference has long been a key educational and inspirational gathering for Vermont’s farmers. The 30th annual conference, taking place February 10-12, 2012 at the University of Vermont in Burlington will be no exception ‘ with extra emphasis on the inspiration.After a particularly challenging year, Vermont’s growers are looking forward to the opportunity to exchange ideas, learn new techniques, and create connections. The NOFA-VT Winter Conference brings together farmers, educators, researchers, and more to build knowledge and tackle hard questions ‘ like how to create a vibrant and resilient food system in the face of climate change and a struggling economy.On Saturday, keynote speaker and local extension expert Vern Grubinger will share his vision of the future of Vermont’s food system. ‘The resilience of Vermont’s food system is challenged by many factors, including climate change and weather extremes, reliance on fossil fuel, loss of good farmland, and consolidation of food processing, distribution and retailing,’ says Grubinger. ‘Strategies for addressing these challenges are emerging as part of an ongoing transformation in how people think about food. This presentation will highlight some of these strategies and the farms involved with them, celebrating the progress being made and suggesting new actions for the future.’Over 30 of the weekend’s workshops are intended for commercial farmers and will cover topics such as Produce Safety, Farm Finance, Flood Recovery, Alternative Energy, Pasture Management and much more. In addition, day-long seminars on Friday will address Advanced Orchard Health for Sustainable Fruit Production, Nose-to-Tail Butchery, Organic Beekeeping, Renewable Energy Options, and Weed Management in a Wetter, Warmer Climate.About NOFA Vermont: NOFA Vermont is member-based organization working to grow local farms, healthy food, and strong communities in Vermont. Our members are farmers, gardeners, educators and food lovers of all sorts ‘ anyone who wants to help us create a future full of local food and local farms. Our programs include farmer and gardener technical assistance, farm to school support, organic certification, advocacy, an online apprentice and farm worker directory, an annual Winter Conference, and programs that work to ensure access to fresh, local food to all Vermonters, regardless of income.
Lebanon on Thursday unveiled a compensation program for the thousands of homes and businesses devastated by the August 4 mega-blast at Beirut’s port.President Michel Aoun signed a decree allocating 100 billion Lebanese pounds (more than $66 million at the official exchange rate, or $13 million on the black market) to the program, his office said.It added that the army and Beirut municipality would be tasked with setting up a mechanism to distribute the funds. Topics : The UN is to coordinate the aid to ensure it reaches those in need directly rather than through Lebanese government bodies, which are widely accused of corruption. The compensation will go to owners of homes and businesses damaged in the explosion that left more than 190 dead and devastated swathes of the capital, a source at the presidency said.According to an assessment by the army, the blast caused by a consignment of ammonium nitrate damaged almost 61,000 homes and over 19,000 businesses.The explosion compounded Lebanon’s worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.On Aug. 9, the international community pledged around $300 million in emergency aid at a conference jointly organized by France and the United Nations.