2009 keynoters

Will Allen

Our Saturday keynoter, Will Allen will speak to us on Saturday, August 8th at 7:00 pm. Will's philosophies directly parallel this year's conference theme - Know Food, Know Freedom: NOFA. Our mission at NOFA is to educate people about safe, sustainable food - how to grow it and where to get it. Unfortunately, many still think of organic, healthy food as something that is an option only for the elite few who can afford to pay higher prices. Will believes that we can change that, and he has made it his life's work to show people how.

Will is a community activist, founder and CEO of a not-for-profit organization, and former professional basketball player. He is also a farmer, one who believes that we have a responsibility to show youth and adults how to grow food in a sustainable way, and to bring this knowledge to people in urban, low income areas.

He and his organization, Growing Power, are successfully bringing food freedom to these areas while simultaneously supporting small family farmers. They site their goal as: "to grow food, to grow minds, and to grow community." How do they do this? By offering hands-on training, workshops, youth training programs, active demonstration and technical support to farmers and potential farmers in the Milwaukee area and beyond.

The national headquarters for Growing Power is an urban farm and Community Food Center located in Milwaukee. The center is a 2-acre farm with 14 greenhouses, greens, vegetables, herbs, fish, livestock, hoop houses, an apiary, and a small store. It is a place where anyone in the community can come to come to learn and to witness sustainable farming methods firsthand. Alongside these centers, Will is also founder and president of The Rainbow Farmers Cooperative, an organization dedicated to helping farmers keep their small family farms running by working together. The RFC offers marketing, transportation, access to sellers and storage space to their farmers, so that they are able to get their products to local farmers markets. Along with these benefits, farmers can also take advantage of training workshops, seminars and guidance on marketing, grant writing, and growing techniques.

But Will's accomplishments don't stop there. He is also an innovator who has developed a system to grow food in the winter without conventional heating, and a bio-intensive growing system using worms. He is currently working hard to be sure that Growing Power uses renewable energy sources to become more self-sufficient. An expert composter, Will uses not just Growing Power's own farm waste but also waste from several other local businesses including a grocer, food coop, brewery and coffee shop.

Allen has been recognized for his efforts numerous times. In 2005, he received the "Leadership for a Changing World Award from the Ford Foundations. In 2008, he was awarded the MacArthur Genius Fellowship, a $500,000 grant given to people who show exceptional creativity in their work and promise for the future.

Will has much to share with us about the amazing things he has accomplished on his urban farm and in his life. To read more about him and Growing Power, visit www.growingpower.org.

Paul Stamets

Paul Stamets will speak at the NOFA Summer Conference on Friday night, August 7th at 7:30 pm. For over three decades, Paul has been collecting, studying, (and of course, eating!) mushrooms, and is an expert on the countless ways in which they can benefit human and environmental health. Most of us know about some of the mystical properties of mushrooms, but Paul has delved much deeper into the mysteries of fungi. Along with providing humans with vital nutrients, Paul believes that we can use mushrooms to break down toxic waste, restore soil, aid in water filtration, and even treat viruses and diseases in humans and animals. In short, he believes that mushrooms have the power to save the planet.

In his keynote, Paul will discuss how we can start immediately to put mushrooms to practical use for the environment and for human health. He will also discuss his current research and work with the U.S. Government's BioShield BioDefense program.

Paul has written over twenty patents, and runs his own wholesale and retail business, Fungi Perfecti, LLC. Fungi Perfecti sells all kinds of mushroom related products; growing kits, cultivation tools, mushroom art, and kits and books for kids. You can visit his website at www.fungi.com.

Stamets and his wife, C. Dusty Yao, share a passion for fungi and a love of the Old Growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. He has gathered much of his exceptional collection there, and is passionate about preserving, protecting, and cloning as many ancestral strains of mushrooms as possible. Much of what is made at Fungi Perfecti goes toward his research projects.

Along with running his own business, Stamets is an advisor to the Program of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Medical School, Tucson; on the Editorial Board of The International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, and was appointed to the G.A.P./G.M.P. Board of the U.S. Pharmacopoeia. He has written six books, including Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms, The Mushroom Cultivator (coauthor) and his newest, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World, and published papers in peer-reviewed journals like The International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, Herbalgram, and numerous others. On top of all this, Paul is the supplier and co-investigator of the first two NIH funded clinical studies using medicinal mushrooms in the United States.

Paul has been recognized many times for his groundbreaking work. In 1998 he received the "Bioneers Award" from The Collective Heritage Institute, and in1999 the "Founder of a New Northwest Award" from the Pacific Rim Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils. Last year, Paul received National Geographic Adventure's Magazine's Green-O-vator and the Argosy Foundation's E-chievement Awards. He was also recognized by Utne Reader as one of the 50 Visionaries of the Year in 2008.

2012 Keynoters

2011 Keynoters

2010 Keynoters

2009 Keynoters