New Vrindaban Invites All North American ISKCON Farmers To Second Annual Farm Conference
By Madhava Smullen for ISKCON New Vrindaban Communications
ECO-Vrindaban and ISKCON New Vrindaban are extending an invitation to every Hare Krishna temple and farm in North America to attend the 2017 Annual North American ISKCON Farm Conference from October 13th to 15th.
The Conference will be hosted at INV in West Virginia, and is organized Kalakantha Das, the GBC Minister for Agriculture and Cow Protection, along with volunteers from several farm communities.
“We also want to invite not just devotees, but anyone from the regional area who is interested in small farming, gardening or sustainability,” says conference co-organizer Jamuna Jivani Dasi.
Themed “Back to the Basics,” the aim of the conference is not only to discuss the big picture end result; but also to provide practical first steps and a support network for those who feel inspired to carry out Prabhupada’s instructions on simple living, yet lack the experience or knowledge.
ECO-V General Manager Ranaka Das, who has served at New Vrindaban for over forty years, will give participants a tour of the cow protection facilities along with a history of New Vrindaban’s cow protection program – the first in the Western World.
In his presentation “Holistic Cow Care & Ox Training,” Balabhadra Das will give everyone an hour of hands-on time with the oxen, plus an hour of cow protection philosophy according to Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. Balabhadra, now based in Alachua, Florida, has run his “International Society for Cow Protection” (ISCOWP) for decades in New Vrindaban, Gita Nagari and beyond.
The Farm Conference will also benefit from professionals outside the ISKCON community. James Kotcon, Associate Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences at West Virginia University, will lead a workshop on how to build soils using organic practices. His techniques avoid synthetic chemicals and instead use organic matter, tillage, composts, cover crops and crop rotations.
Ken Peralta from Grow Ohio Valley will speak about Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) and how to set them up. His vision is to see family farms and backyard and community gardens thrive, and have grocery stores and school cafeterias use healthy local produce.
Meanwhile in “The Ahimsa Dairy Equation,” Kalakantha Das will discuss how to plan a sustainable milking herd for an Ahimsa Dairy.
Dhruva Das and his wife Parijata Dasi from Gita Nagari farm in Pennsyvlania will add to this with a presentation on the practice, challenges and price for milk from protected cows.
And there will be a panel discussion on the Ahimsa Dairy Equation with Shyamasundara Das from Bhaktivedanta Manor’s New Gokul farm, along with many of the other presenters.
Elsewhere Vidya Dasi, who has volunteered in the gardens at New Vrindaban for more than forty years, and her colleague Suchandra Dasi will share their expertise in “Flower Production and Propagation.” This will be especially practical and helpful to devotees because local flower production is important for Deity worship in all ISKCON temples.
ECO-V board advisor Makara Dasi, who grew up in New Vrindaban and runs her own small farm in Michigan, will lead a practical canning workshop.
Russian devotee Vrajarenu Das will share insight and inspiration from the many successful farming initiatives currently going on in ISKCON Russia.
And in “The Vrindavan Village Vision of Srila Prabhupda,” Gadi Das of Murari-sevaka Farm in Tennessee will share Srila Prabhupada’s teachings on ideal village life and self-sufficiency as well as lay out practical steps to achieving Srila Prabhupada’s vision.”
On the Friday evening, there will also be a Kartik kirtan at Prabhupada’s Palace and a slideshow presentation by Sankirtan Das on Srila Prabhupada’s instructions for New Vrindaban.
The Farm Conference will be an opportunity for both current and aspiring farmers, gardeners and cowherds to learn about projects underway at New Vrindaban and other small farms around the world. And it will be a chance for them to gain skills, techniques and inspiration for their own private or community farm or garden.
“We also want to help participants network and realize that they’re not alone – that there is a whole community of people committed to similar seva all over North America, who can provide them with resources, support and inspiration,” Jamuna Jivani says.
“And finally, we hope people will get a strong sense of how important farming and cow protection is to Srila Prabhupada, and how they’re all really working towards fulfilling his desire.”
Participation in the Farm Conference costs $151 per person (on-site, 3 nights accommodations) or $108 (on-site, 2 nights accommodations).
Registration is now open at: http://farmconferences.iskcon.co/registration
Or, call 1-304-843-1600, ext.111. Participation is open to all, so organizers ask everyone to extend an invitation to congregational devotees, as well as your small farm neighbors!