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Shane Ebyís Nuffield Agricultural Scholarship for 2010 has begun

March 30, 2010

At the beginning of March market farmer Shane Eby of Under Ground Organics headed down to Washington DC and Pennsylvania for the first part of his year long farming scholarship. He sent this account of the experience to share with market readers.

The Nuffield group brought together all the scholars for 2010 for a week long conference addressing the question of how to appropriately work towards feeding a world with a growing population that is estimated to rise towards 9 billion people.

53 farmers from eight countries; Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, Canada and the United States came together to share and to learn from each other. Almost all the farmers are involved in different forms of agriculture including dairy, poultry, hog, goat and cattle farmers, bee keepers, foresters, greenhouse operators, vegetable growers, cotton farmers and heaps of farmers tending to large field crops of grains and pulses. There were also academics, educators and agricultural policy people involved for the week.

It was a busy and focused week with a very intense schedule. We received lectures from around a dozen world wide agricultural experts that had us discussing everything from climate concerns to world trade and political issues to small scale technology and knowledge transfer.

We were also lucky enough to be able to tour around a dozen farms and farming facilities around Pennsylvania including a large dairy operation that has been developing leading edge technology since the 1970s, a mushroom farm, the biggest compost making facility Iíve ever seen, a horse racing track (no big winners that nite), a manufacturing plant which makes New Holland farm machinery (which made me glad I work in the fields and not in the factory) an Amish farm that was located on Eby Road which is my family name (I can tell you a story about that), and a fruit tree research station where just by coincidence Under Ground Organics happened to buy our fruit trees from several years ago! I was able to learn a few inside tips that should help bring loads of fruit to the markets in the next couple of years Ė I hope!

The conference was the only time the 2010 Nuffield scholars will be getting together as one group with everyone now out on their own exploring their personal agricultural agenda. The conference was really great for connections for scholarship touring and for future trips away from the farm during the winter months. Actually, I was really happy about our Canadian winters on the trip because I realized that those few precious moments of rest arenít available to many of the growers from more southern climates Ė a lot of them donít get any breaks throughout the year at all.

Next up for is a trip to Wisconsin at the end of April for a technical seminar on Hop growing Ė thatís the focus for my scholarship. And just in case you didnít know hops are one of the main ingredients in beer and although Iím not planning on brewing any beer any time soon, Iím hoping to supply some of our local brewers with some of the farm fresh hops that theyíd like to be using.

More updates about Shaneís Nuffield Scholarship to come.

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