2014 Conference Program

 

 

 "I've been going to the conference since 2002. I had just started farming and it was a springboard for my involvement in organic and sustainable ag." 
— Tana Comer, Eaton's Creek Organics, Tenn.
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2014 Conference Program

Our conference program is, as always, loaded with practical information tailored for those in the South producing organic and sustainable food on a commercial scale and for those in our region working to improve local food systems.

We'll have two full days of pre-conference activities starting Wednesday morning, including an excellent variety of short courses, mini courses and field trips, plus a virtual farm tour extravaganza, a seed swap and a special showing of the film Eating Alabama.

Then the two full days of general conference activities start Friday morning and will include educational sessions, networking sessions, and a trade show. It will conclude with the big Taste of Alabama banquet dinner Saturday evening, which is included in the general conference registration fee.

Check out the incredible pre-conference and general conference offerings below. Click here to learn more about our great line-up of presenters.

We highly recommend you bring a partner so you can split up and get the most from this program!

 

PRE-CONFERENCE ACTIVITIES

Click to download the conference at a glance.

Click to download the conference at a glance.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 and Thursday, January 16, 2014

 

Intensive Short Courses

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
         through
Thursday, January 16, 2014
8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

While our general conference offers a wide variety of 1 ½ hour sessions that allow participants to gain valuable information about many different things, these pre-conference short courses are different. These short courses are high-value learning experiences that provide you comprehensive, and in-depth information on the topic most important to you right now.

These short courses are 1½ days of intensive instruction from some of the best experts in our field. They base instruction on their own practical experience and on lessons they have learned over the years from studying and collaborating with others around the region.

In addition to excellent classroom instruction, participants will get a collection of useful take-home materials that they can use for continued learning and to share. 

You must register to participate in the short courses. Pre-registration is strongly recommended, as space is limited.

Sign up for one of these excellent short courses now:

Short Course #1
Start-Up Organic Vegetable Production and Marketing
Instructors: Cathy Jones, Perry-winkle Farm (NC) and Daniel Parson, Parson Produce (SC)

Short Course #2
High Tunnel Production and Marketing
Instructors: Alison and Paul Wiediger, Au Naturel Farm (KY)

Short Course #3
Managing Your Farm as a Business  
Instructor: Richard Wiswall, Cate Farm (VT), author of The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook

Short Course #4
Farm to School 101: Building a Strong Foundation
Instructors: Emily Jackson, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (NC); Andrew Smiley, Sustainable Food Center (TX); Mary Stein, National Farm to School Network (MT)

Click here to learn more about these Short Courses.

 

Mini Courses

Thursday, January 16, 2014

1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. 

If you want to boost your knowledge in a specific topic of interest, our mini courses are for you. These ½ day courses give participants an opportunity to spend an afternoon learning what the experts know and how they do it. You’ll go home ready to get started or to make improvements right away. This year we are offering mini courses on these four hot topics.

You must register to participate in the mini courses. Pre-registration is strongly recommended, as space is limited.

Please note that these mini courses are being offered at the same time as the field trips

Mini Course #1
Getting Started in Pastured Broiler Production
Instructors: Jeannette Beranger, The Livestock Conservancy (NC); Janet Beall and Susan Graves, Little Escambia Poultry Farm (AL)

Mini Course #2

Applying Biodynamic Principles to Your Farm
Instructors: Laura Riccardi Lyvers, Biodynamic Agricultural Resources (KY), and Philip Lyvers, Lyvers Farm (KY)

Mini Course #3

Adding Value-Added Products to Your Farm
Instructors: April McGreger, Farmer’s Daughter (NC) and Arlie Powell, Petals From the Past (AL)

Mini Course #4

Poly-Cropping Your Funding: Sustain Your Organization Through Strategic Fundraising
Instructor: Alice Rolls, Georgia Organics (GA)

Click here to learn more about these mini courses.

 

Field Trips

Thursday, January 16, 2014
12:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. 

For those who learn best by seeing other farms, ranches and gardens, we offer five excellent field trips this year.

Field trip participants will travel on comfortable motor coaches equipped with restrooms (no private vehicles permitted). All field trip motor coaches will depart from outside the front entrance of the Mobile Convention Center at 12:30 p.m. sharp! No refunds will be provided to those who miss their ride. The field trip registration fee includes a light snack.

Space is limited, so register early. Pre-registration is strongly recommended.

Please note that these Field Trips are being offered at the same time as the Mini Courses.

The five field trips we are offering this year are:

Field Trip #1
CSA Farming
Hosts: Mike Steede and siblings

Field Trip #2
Permaculture SOLD OUT!
Hosts: Craig and Lisa Kalloch

Field Trip #3
Organic Beef, Lamb and Pork
Host: Randall Hastings

Field Trip #4
School Garden
Hosts: School Staff and Cooperative Extension Staff

Field Trip #5
Urban Farming
Hosts: Justin Taylor and Cheryl Bowen

Click here to learn more about these Field Trips.

 

Special Events

Virtual Farm Tour Extravaganza
Thursday, January 16, 2014
6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. 

Tour nine farms all in one evening! Watch nine of the 20-minute DVDs in Southern SAWG’s Natural Farming Systems in the South series and learn about: Cut Flowers, Organic Vegetables, Meat Goats, Pastured Lambs, Pastured Turkeys, Pastured Broilers, Pastured Beef, and Marketing. These DVDs will all be shown pre-conference on Thursday evening in a special viewing room and at the SSAWG Booth during the conference. (no ticket required)

Seed Swap
Thursday, January 16, 2014                      
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.                       

We’ll provide space and envelopes for those who wish to swap seeds.  This will be a good opportunity to meet seed savers and learn about varieties dear to their hearts. Don’t forget to bring your seeds!  Bring photos and samples too if you can.

Eating Alabama Film
Thursday, January 16, 2014
7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.       

Returning to Alabama, a couple sets out to eat the way their grandparents did – seasonally and locally. But soon they realize that everything about the food system has changed since their families left the farm. What follows is an introspective and often funny meditation on community, the South and sustainability. Eating Alabama is a story about why food matters by Andrew Beck Grace, a documentary filmmaker and native Alabamian. He's a past fellow at the CPB/PBS Producers Academy and directs the Documenting Justice program at the University of Alabama. (no ticket required)

 

GENERAL CONFERENCE BEGINS

Friday, January 17, 2014 and Saturday, January 18, 2014

With more sessions than ever, the general conference gives you the opportunity to learn about many different things. We have sessions about organic and sustainable vegetables, livestock and specialty crop production, unique marketing strategies, urban farming, farm to school, business and finance management, community food systems work, useful federal farm programs and agriculture policy developments. The line-up includes a whopping sixty-one 1½ hour educational sessions, plus a state networking session for each of the 13 states in our region, along with 13 information exchange sessions where you get to exchange ideas and information with those who share your interests. Also built into the general conference schedule is a trade show, a plenary and a Taste of Alabama dinner!

 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Trade Show Open

8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Welcome Session
8:00 a.m. – 8:45 a.m.

Welcome to Alabama, y’all!  While we come from different states and have differing roles in the food and farming system, we are here to share knowledge and to grow the movement. In this session, we’ll gather together to greet one another and kick off our two-day general conference. Come to celebrate our collective wealth and connections.  

 

General Conference Sessions

Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

 

Producing or Purchasing Compost: Which Should You Do? – Most of us know that compost is a fantastic amendment for soils and plants. Is your farm suited to producing compost or better off purchasing all you need from a commercial facility? Learn what it takes to produce compost and other on-farm humus sources. Find out what you should consider when purchasing commercial compost using compost quality indicators, but also, what to watch out for. This session will help you learn how to make better decisions on composts for your farm. Steve Diver, Agri-Horticultural Consulting (TX).

Farming for Beneficial Insects (Pollinators, Predators, and Parasitoids) – Pollinators (especially native bees) and other beneficial insects (that help control crop pests) are crucial to ensure healthy crop harvests. This session will help you understand habitat needs of pollinators, predators and parasitoids common in our region and ways you can support their conservation with habitat and farm management. Also learn where to access resources for bee and other insect identification, plant selection, and successful habitat establishment. Nancy Adamson, Xerces Society and NRCS Technology Support Center (NC). To be repeated.

Organic Production of Winter Greens – Learn some of the best practices for producing and post-harvest handling of greens through the winter under covers, in unheated structures, and outside. Long-time producer Ira Wallace will discuss tips for growing kale, collards, mustard and turnip greens, as well as lettuce and salad greens with herbs. This session will include information on organic production costs as well as interactive enterprise budgets so you can develop budgets specific to your operation. Ira Wallace, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (VA) and Karen RM McSwain, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (NC).

Getting Started in Producing and Marketing Sheep – Sheep are a good livestock option for those with small acreage who are looking to create additional income. Learn some of the practical issues of raising sheep on pasture, as well as marketing tips and profitability information. An experienced producer will discuss production issues such as best breeds, nutrition, health care, shelter, and pasture management. She will also provide information on working with processors and marketing direct to individuals. Chris Wilson, Clover Creek Farm (TN).

Creating Viable Profit Centers on Market Farms – Find out how successful, long-time market farmers have achieved financial viability. Learn about specialty crops and alternative markets that can boost income on the small or mid-scale farm, and how those can be combined into a successful whole. Hear about growers across the U.S. who integrate CSA, farmers markets, retail, wholesale, winter markets, agritourism and other innovative approaches to profitability. Lynn Byczynski, Growing For Market magazine and Wild Onion Farm (KS).

Growing Cash Flow: A Simple Tool for Budgeting and Managing Cash – Are you frustrated by not having enough money on hand to cover critical expenses after all the work of growing and marketing your crops? This session simplifies the concept of Cash Flow Analysis so that you can “use the parts you’re comfortable with” to better manage your farm business. Learn to grow your financial skills at a pace that makes sense for you, without getting lost in details, ratios, and secret formulas intelligible only to accountants. Gary Matteson, Farm Credit Council (DC) and staff from First South Farm Credit. To be repeated.

Fueling Community Development With Good Food – Learn how farms can drive community development in both rural and urban areas. Hear how one farm family has developed a 350-member multi-farm CSA in the Houston area, and used it to finance the opening of a rural farm store in a food desert, open up new marketing opportunities for other farmers, and engage community members. They will share lessons learned and tips for others. Brad & Jenny Stufflebeam, Home Sweet Farm (TX).

Building Relationships with School Food Staff for Successful Farm to School Programs – Child nutrition directors and school food staff are vital to the success of Farm to School programs. Hear how to work together with food service professionals to navigate procurement regulations, identify opportunities for local purchasing, implement menu changes, and start a Farm to School program. Paige Holland, Habersham County Schools (GA) and Debra Morris, Jackson County Schools (GA). 

Connecting Passions: Building Support for Food Systems Work by Connecting With Other Issue Groups – A growing number of people are passionate about issues such as health and wellness, the environment, local economy, and justice. Learn how to engage others in our work by showing the connections between healthy farms, healthy people and a healthy world. Using examples from the Healthy Farms, Healthy People Coalition, this session will show how to build coalitions that lead to state and national political action. Holly Calhoun, Healthy Farms, Healthy People Coalition (CA). 

 

Information Exchange
Friday, 10:45 a.m. – Noon

These facilitated group discussions provide you the opportunity to exchange ideas and information with your peers from around the region. Come prepared to ask and answer questions, share your experiences and listen to others.

Solutions for Common High Tunnel Problems – Join other producers for a discussion of some common problems (especially around heat and disease) in high tunnel production. Come ready to ask about problems and share solutions. 

Sustainable Tree Fruits and Brambles for the South – What kinds of fruit and which varieties have the best disease and pest resistance for our region? What are some of the best practices for better production? Share your tips and innovations.

Innovations with Cut Flowers – What are your favorite varieties and best sellers? What are best practices for post-harvest handling and for market displays?

Pastured Poultry: Problem Solving – What are your biggest challenges – feed, housing, predator control, heat, processing, others? Compare systems. Share your solutions, tips and innovations.

Goat and Sheep Management: Problem Solving – What are your biggest challenges – disease management, fencing, predator controls, processing, marketing, others? Compare practices. Share your solutions, tips and innovations.

How Farmers Are Adapting to Weather Variability and Changing Weather Patterns – Are you noticing changes in weather patterns on your farm? How are you managing these changes? What changes are the most difficult for you to manage successfully? Laura Lengnick, Warren Wilson College, will capture information from this session for a book about the practices used by sustainable farmers to manage increasing climate variability.

Young and Beginning Farmers – How can you access land and capital? How can you create a support system to sustain you? How can you manage to start a family and start a farm at the same time?  Discuss your challenges and share solutions.

Transitioning Out of Farming – What are the issues facing farmers who are retiring or leaving the profession? What are some of the business decisions that need to be made? How do you pass on the land to others with your values? What continuing role can you play to take advantage of your wisdom? 

Managing Farmers Markets – What are some of the keys to managing and sustaining local farmers’ markets? Share ideas on organizational structure, rules, marketing, and building community support. 

Putting the “Farmer” in Farm-to-School and Cooperative Marketing Ventures – What do you need to consider to effectively serve farmers with regional marketing programs? How do you develop good farmer relations and communication? What other support services do farmers need? 

Community and School Gardening – How do you build and sustain community and school gardens? What are your biggest challenges – funding, community involvement, balancing production vs. education? Share your innovations for success. 

Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) Listening Session – The National Farm to School Network is gathering input to help determine their policy platform in the upcoming Child Nutrition Reauthorization process. Learn about this important federal legislation and let them know what your schools and community needs.

People of Color in the Movement – How can more People of Color become part of the sustainable agriculture and community food movements? What can be done to make the movement more inclusive of all? 

Organizations in the Movement Working Together – How can we build collaborations among the organizations working on sustainable agriculture and community food systems in the South? How can we broaden our systems level thinking and our collective impact? What kinds of activities are needed between us?

Lunch On Your Own
Noon – 1:30 p.m.

General Conference Sessions
Friday, 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Take Advantage of Mycorrhizal Fungi for Improved Soil Fertility and Plant Health – Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are beneficial soil fungi that form a symbiosis with the majority of crop plants, enhancing nutrient uptake and improving disease and drought resistance. This presentation will draw on 24 years of studies at the Rodale Institute to explain the biology and functioning of the symbiosis, how farming practices impact the native population of AM fungi, and the on-farm production and utilization of inoculum of these beneficial fungi. David Douds, USDA ARS-ERRC (PA). To be repeated.

Identifying Insect Pests for Vegetable Crops – Learn how to identify the different life stages of the major pests of vegetables in the southern region and understand the type of damage they cause to crops. Too often growers kill beneficial insects that they mistake for pests, or allow pest populations to build up because they think they are beneficials. Proper identification is the first step in developing an effective management plan. Debbie Roos, Growing Small Farms / NC Coop Extension (NC).

Planning Vegetable and Flower Production for Weekly Markets One of the biggest challenges for diversified, direct-market farms is providing an abundant and continuous flow of products to customers throughout the marketing year. In this workshop we'll look at some important record-keeping and planning tools you can use to create benchmarks to stay on track in the midst of frenetic harvesting, marketing, weeding and irrigating – and how to balance this careful planning with seat-of-the-pants improvisation when necessary. Mark Cain, Dripping Springs Gardens (AR).

Producing and Processing Livestock to Create Quality Products – Just because your production practices are more sustainable, doesn’t mean your products are better. Learn what it takes to create quality. From choice of breeds to pasture management; from animal care to working with processors. Two producers will go through their steps of production and processing to point out where decisions can be made to increase the quality of the end product. Anne & Bob Blanchet, Brookshire Farm (LA) and Wes & Charlotte Swancy, Riverview Farms (GA).

Direct Marketing Mistakes and How to Correct Them – Do you want to increase your direct market sales through farmers’ markets, roadside stands, or on-farm sales? Learn about common mistakes in displays, materials, pricing and more, and what you can do to correct them. This session will help you understand keys to direct marketing success. Don Wambles, Alabama Farmers Market Authority (AL).

Our Story: Rural Community-Building from the Farm – Barbara & Roy Shipman raise a small herd of meat goats and grow seasonal produce on land that has been in Roy’s family since 1862. Using their farm as a base, they have also increased local community involvement in agriculture by leading a 4-H youth program, starting and managing a farmers’ market in a nearby town, and converting a building on their farm into a rural resource center. Barbara is involved in numerous other projects including the Southern Rural Black Women Initiative and "Women in Ag" to further encourage community sustainability and productivity. Barbara & Roy Shipman, RRBG Shipman Farm (AL).

Breaking Concrete: Getting Started in Urban Agriculture – From site selection to breaking ground, urban farms require several unique considerations to get growing. Whether interested in farming for profit or creating a not for profit program, hear from an experienced urban farmer about how to get started. Topics will include creating organizational structure, site selection, navigating city ordinances, establishing lease agreements and water contracts, establishing infrastructure, and more. Edwin Marty, EAT South (AL).

Building Community Relationships for Effective Farm to School Marketing –Farm to School programs are valuable tools for building community support for farmers and school food services. Farmers, schools, students and partners can become “stars." Learn practical ways to create program and farmer recognition in schools and the community. Topics will include how to engage community members to develop marketing tools, find funding sources, and utilize diverse resources. Chris Kirby, Oklahoma Farm to School (OK) and Nicole Zammit, USDA SW Region Farm to School (TX). 

Moving Food and Agriculture Policy Forward: How to Work with the New Political Landscape in DC – 2013 marked the year of unprecedented change in the way Congress operates. How can you navigate this change and still remain effective? Join our panelists as they analyze the effects of this changing climate on food and agriculture policy. Learn short- and long-term strategies on how to increase support for legislation that promotes sustainable community food and agriculture systems. Kate Fitzgerald, Food and Agriculture Policy Consultant (DC); Sarah Hackney, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (DC); Gabraelle Lane, Southern SAWG (AR).

 

General Conference Sessions

Friday, 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Building Soil Organically: A Discussion of Practical Applications and Why They Work – An experienced organic producer will explain his approach to building healthy soil, including cover cropping, crop rotation, tillage, and soil amendments. An experienced researcher will discuss some of the biology, chemistry, and physics behind the soil building practices. Together, they will answer the question: How do you turn a soil test recommendation into a practical application of organic amendments within a rotation? Daniel Parson, Parson Produce (SC) and Mark Schonbeck, Virginia Association for Biological Farming (VA).

The Art and Science of Controlling Pesky Weeds of the South – Learn how to manage some of the most persistent weeds in small vegetable systems with both cultural (crop rotations, field preparation, planting options) and mechanical (hand tools and small-scale equipment) controls.  We will discuss the science of weed ecology along with the art of managing weeds on a busy market farm. Carlene Chase, Univ. of Florida (FL) and Ken Dawson, Maple Spring Gardens (NC).

Organic Tomato Production for Experienced Growers – Learn some of the most successful organic production practices for tomatoes in the South. A long-time organic producer will discuss the best varieties for growing and for market, seed treatment and transplants, how to handle common pest and disease problems, trellising systems, and post-harvest handling. This session will include information on organic production costs as well as interactive enterprise budgets so you can develop a budget specific to your operation. Alex Hitt, Peregrine Farm (NC) and Karen RM McSwain, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (NC). To be repeated.

Adding Aquaculture to Your Farm – Farm-raised fish can add diversity to your farm products, but they also take unique infrastructure and management skills. From hatching to processing, learn about the systems, equipment, resources and expertise needed to raise tilapia and other fish in a farm-based system. Brian Gotreaux, Gotreaux Farms (LA).

Build Community, Build Your Market: Growing Social Capital to Grow Your Sales – As a local farm raising healthy food, you are well-positioned to create positive relationships and build trust within your community. Whether you market direct or sell through long supply chains, learn how to cultivate this social capital through your marketing techniques and by communicating your values to customers. This session will help you think about community building as a way of marketing and discuss ways to build social capital. Rebecca Thistlethwaite, Sustain Consulting (OR) and author of "Farms with a Future."

Our Story: Cooperative Farming in Nashville’s Backyard – Hear how four farms only 15 minutes from Nashville are preserving rich farmland from development by working together to produce and market good food. They are marketing jointly through a cooperative CSA and through farmers’ markets and an online market, and are incubating young farmers in the process. Learn about their partnerships with each other, with sister farms further from the city, and with city folks who share their vision. Loran Shallenberger and Eric Wooldridge, Bells Bend Neighborhood Farms (TN).

Big Yields from Small Spaces: Making the Best Use of Space on Your Urban Farm – Small spaces can bring large yields with careful planning. Learn about methods for close spacing, succession planting, disease and pest management, soil building, crop rotation, variety selection, vertical growing, and dealing with humidity and heat in crowded plantings. Diana Liga, Urban Harvest (TX).

Farm to School Program Evaluation – Is it worth the time and resources? Learn why evaluations are valuable, and what a well-designed evaluation can tell you, your partners and your funders. Using real examples from work in Arkansas, this session will help you understand different types of evaluations, what to measure, and how to present results. Interactive exercises will engage those who are new to evaluation as well as those with some experience. Andrew Carberry and Rachel Schichtl, Arkansas Grow Healthy Study (AR).

Capitalizing Your Organization for Sustainability and Growth – Public and private funders who share a commitment to building regional sustainable food systems are channeling grant and investment capital to promising organizations across the food value chain. Meet some of these funders as well as a CDFI that partners on financing and technical assistance. Hear about their priorities and programs, including how they stage their support and how your organization may qualify. Lisa Richter, GPS Capital Partners (CA) and others TBD.

 

State Networking Sessions
Friday, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Gather with those working for sustainable agriculture and community food systems in your state to learn what’s happening, how you can benefit, how you can be involved and how you can make a difference. We’ll provide a room and a facilitator for each of the 13 Southern states. You make the discussion useful.  

 

SATURDAY, JANUARY 18, 2014

 

Trade Show Open
8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Plenary
8:00 a.m. – 8:45 a.m.

What’s Love Got To Do With It?  Channeling Passion for Local Foods into a Movement for Community, Economic and National Renewal

By Anthony Flaccavento, SCALE (VA)

We seem to live in the “best of times and the worst of times.” While the local foods movement continues to grow nationwide, so does the concentration of power in an ever-smaller number of giant corporations. While public and university support for sustainable farming increases, the courts and government accelerate the deployment of GMO crops. And while an ever more diverse base of people come together at community farmers’ markets, our public and political debate is reduced to mean spirited “us versus them.”

Our collective efforts have made a difference, from a fourfold increase in farmers’ markets, to an array of farm-to-school, food desert and healthy eating initiatives. But we’re still on the margins, economically and politically, in many cases, barely holding on to the progress we’ve made. Anthony Flaccavento, farmer, writer and sustainable development consultant, will propose a new strategy for social, economic and political change, one that builds on the food communities and local economies emerging around the country, mobilizes millions of new advocates, and places love at the heart of our work for a better world.

General Conference Sessions
Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Basic Organic Soil Management: Caring for the Soil as a Living System – Learn how soil life and soil organic matter facilitate crop nutrition and protect soil quality. This session will discuss the role of cover cropping, crop rotations, compost, other organic and natural mineral amendments, and judicious tillage for soil improvement. You will also learn how to translate a soil test report into “organic” and receive tips for monitoring soil condition in the field and via repeat soil tests. Mark Schonbeck, Virginia Association for Biological Farming (VA).

Controlling Soil-borne Pests and Weeds with Solarization in Fields and High Tunnels – Soil solarization is a non-toxic method of soil disinfestation that reduces or suppresses plant pathogens including fungi, bacteria, nematodes, and weed seeds. Solarization also increases decomposition and mineralization of soil organic matter, leading to increased growth response for many crops planted on solarized soils. Learn how solarization works and the proper steps for solarizing the soil in open fields and under tunnels. Victor Khan, Tuskegee University (AL).

Taking Advantage of Changing Opportunities for Cut Flowers – The flower business is in the midst of upheaval, with old markets disappearing but new options opening up. This session will point you to the best places to sell flowers in the years to come. Learn about the new "slow flowers" movement, marketing to weddings and events, selling to natural food and other grocery stores, and building loyal buyers at farmers markets. Lynn Byczynski, Growing For Market magazine and Wild Onion Farm (KS).

Our Story: From Small-Scale to Living Scale on an Organic Farm – Ken Dawson has been raising produce using organic methods since 1972, and has made a living as a full-time farmer for more than 30 years. Along with his wife, Libby Outlaw, and 6-8 seasonally hired workers, they raise about 40 different varieties of vegetables as well as cut flowers and small fruits. Having grown for both wholesale and direct markets, they now market almost exclusively to customers at farmers’ markets and through a 190 member CSA. Hear how they have grown their business and adapted to the changing marketplace . Ken Dawson, Maple Spring Gardens (NC). 

Growing Cash Flow: A Simple Tool for Budgeting and Managing Cash – Are you frustrated by not having enough money on hand to cover critical expenses after all the work of growing and marketing your crops? This session simplifies the concept of Cash Flow Analysis so that you can “use the parts you’re comfortable with” to better manage your farm business. Learn to grow your financial skills at a pace that makes sense for you, without getting lost in details, ratios, and secret formulas intelligible only to accountants. Gary Matteson, Farm Credit Council (DC) and staff from First South Farm Credit. Repeat.

Is Your Farm Ready for Weather Extremes?  Best Practices for Managing Climate Changes on Your Farm – Are you prepared to manage the increased weather variability and extremes that are currently underway and predicted to intensify in the coming years as our planet warms? Over the next 10 to 15 years, projected changes in precipitation and temperature patterns will increase water and pest management challenges and the potential for crop failure. This session presents a new way of thinking about climate risk and offers some best practices for managing climate challenges on your farm. Laura Lengnick, Warren Wilson College (NC).

Raising Healthy Animals in Small Spaces – Raising livestock on small acreages and in urban areas can present unique challenges and opportunities. Learn about breeds suitable for small spaces and management practices that will help ensure healthy, productive animals. This session will cover rabbits, goats, sheep and poultry, with special considerations for raising livestock in urban areas. Robert Spencer, Alabama Cooperative Extension (AL). 

Building Farmer Capacity and Regional Supply Chain Infrastructure to Reach Institutional and Wholesale Buyers – For the past two years, several partners in Alabama and Mississippi addressed the barriers that farmers face in meeting institutional and wholesale market demand. The Increasing Farmer Success project facilitated local market linkages with a variety of retail and institutional buyers and built farmer capacity through direct technical assistance, group training, and by making direct investments into supply chain infrastructure and activities. Partners in this work will share successes along with lessons for others. Lee McBride, Food Bank of North Alabama (AL); Glyen Holmes, New North Florida Cooperative (FL); Andrew Williams, Deep South Food Alliance (AL); Miles Robinson, Tuskegee University (AL); Devona Sherwood, Wallace Center (VA). 

From the Ground Up: Grassroots Organizing for Policy Change – In order to influence meaningful policy change it’s important to have a strong grassroots presence. With mounting frustrations at the “hurry up and wait” attitude of Congress and changes to the rules of the political process, how do you keep the local grassroots population engaged? Join three organizers as they discuss how to build effective grassroots networks engaged in political process and what you can do to strengthen your own networks. Gabraelle Lane, Southern SAWG (AR); Lindsey Scalera, Michigan Voices for Good Food Policy (MI); Qiana Mickie, Just Food (NY).

General Conference Sessions

Saturday, 10:30 a.m. – Noon

Get the Most From Your Compost – Learn how to use compost in potting mixes, soil applications for crop production, and liquid extracts. This session will cover the benefits of compost, equipment needs, application rates for greenhouse and field, and extraction methods such as Aerated Compost Teas and Liquid Compost Extracts. It will also include a discussion of NPK analysis, nutrient release, and nutrient budgeting for NRCS and USDA-NOP programs as it relates to compost, organic matter and applied fertilizers. Steve Diver, Agri-Horticultural Consulting (TX).

High Tunnel Cropping and Management for Profitability – Now that you have high tunnels on your farm, how do you use them effectively? How do you rotate crops to maintain fertility and lower disease pressures? How about timing the harvest of high profit crops to hit market windows? Experienced hoophouse growers will discuss some key management issues and give you tips on what crops to grow under cover and when to grow them. Nicolas Donck, Crystal Organic Farm (GA), and Cory Mosser, Burge Organic Farm (GA).

Organic Tomato Production for Experienced Growers – Learn some of the most successful organic production practices for tomatoes in the South. A long-time organic producer will discuss the best varieties for growing and for market, seed treatment and transplants, how to handle common pest and disease problems, trellising systems, and post-harvest handling. This session will include information on organic production costs as well as interactive enterprise budgets so you can develop a budget specific to your operation. Alex Hitt, Peregrine Farm (NC) and Karen McSwain, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (NC). Repeat.

Direct Marketing Meat – By selling meat directly to customers, producers can expand their customer base, develop unique products and retain more profits. Hear how two farm families sell direct to restaurants and grocers, at festivals and fairs, and through a CSA and farmers markets. Learn about innovations like a traveling Farm Mobile and a food truck with goat kabobs from the farm. These farmers will discuss the ins and outs of producing and marketing your own meat. Charlotte & Wes Swancy, Riverview Farms (GA) and Renard & Chinette Turner, Vanguard Ranch (VA).

Accessing Land for Farming: Non-Traditional Arrangements – Learn ways that successful beginning farmers have found access to farmland. This session will provide examples of non-traditional arrangements such as leasing from land trusts, public agencies or churches, buying with others, creating cooperatives, and taking advantage of conservation easements. We will also discuss factors to consider when working out agreements between a landowner and prospective farmer. Rebecca Thistlethwaite, Sustain Consulting (OR) and Tricia King-Mims, Lula Lake Land Trust (TN).

Capturing and Managing Water on Your Farm – With increasingly erratic weather patterns, and droughts followed by floods, strategies for water management have become critical for successful farms. Learn management techniques you can use whether you have too much water or not enough. This session will include information on rain water harvesting (RWH) and water conservation techniques, along with techniques for mitigating flooding. John Smith, Texas A&M (TX) and Brian Davis, Texas AgriLife Extension (TX).

Urban Agriculture in Atlanta – There are over 300 community gardens and urban farms in Atlanta today due to the work of thousands of community members and dozens of organizations. Hear the story of how the production of good food is flourishing in this city. Learn some of the key activities that made it happen and how the community overcame challenges along the way. Bobby Wilson, Metro Atlanta Urban Farm (GA).  

Food Hub Lessons 1: Getting Started – Are you considering aggregating and distributing farm products, or have recently started a regional food hub or food value chain? Staff members from three food hubs in our region will present examples of how they made decisions on topics such as business structure, management, capital expenditures, distribution and markets, and farmer recruitment. This will be a facilitated conversation to help you learn about some of the differing approaches for reaching your goals. Alyssa Denny, Hollygrove Market & Farm (LA); Kathlyn Terry, Appalachian Sustainable Development (VA); Bob Waldrop, Oklahoma Food Cooperative (OK); Eric Bendfeldt, Virginia Cooperative Extension (VA).

How to Change Federal, State, and Local Policies on Food and Agriculture – Public policies can support or hinder the development of community food systems. Using examples from the Farm to School movement, speakers will discuss real policy changes that were enacted at the school, state, and national levels. Learn tactics that were used and lessons from their experiences. Helen Dombalis, National Farm to School Network (DC), Andrew Smiley, Sustainable Food Center (TX), Sunny Young, Oxford School District (MS).

 

Lunch On Your Own
Noon – 1:30 p.m.

General Conference Sessions

Saturday, 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Managing Cover Crops in Organic Systems – Learn how to increase the benefits of cover crops on your farm. Two organic farmers will discuss their cover crop management – including how they choose crops for certain rotations and conditions, and for the amount of nutrients they provide – plus techniques that increase their benefits (such as inoculating, chopping, mowing, and tilling under). They will also discuss some of the challenges with cover crops and how to know when they aren’t worth the bother. Brad Stufflebeam, Home Sweet Farm (TX) and Cory Mosser, Burge Organic Farm (GA).

Farming for Beneficial Insects (Pollinators, Predators, and Parasitoids) – Pollinators (especially native bees) and other beneficial insects (that help control crop pests) are crucial to ensure healthy crop harvests. This session will help you understand habitat needs of pollinators, predators and parasitoids common in our region and ways you can support their conservation with habitat and farm management. Also learn where to access resources for bee and other insect identification, plant selection, and successful habitat establishment. Nancy Adamson, Xerces Society and NRCS Technology Support Center (NC). Repeat.

Growing Edible Ginger for Local Markets – Ginger is a great specialty crop to add to your mix, easy to produce and in demand by farmers’ market customers, chefs and retailers. Learn the techniques for growing edible baby ginger as a fall crop. This session will cover pre-sprouting, feeding, amendments needed, harvesting, marketing, and more! Susan Anderson, East Branch Ginger (NC). 

Keep Your Small Livestock Safe From Predators With Guardian Animals – Want to get into multi-species grazing, but don’t want to lose your sheep, goats or poultry to predators?  Small ruminant specialist and long-time grazer An Peischel will describe the important role livestock guardian dogs play in her operation, factors to consider when choosing a breed and number of guardians, and offer tips on facilitating their introduction to guarding animals. An Peischel, Tennessee State University (TN).

What You Don’t Know About Labor May be Costing You – Do you know how your labor costs compare to similar farms? Are you getting the most out of your workers? What are the advantages of skilled vs. unskilled labor; apprenticeships vs. employment? A long-time producer and farm manager will discuss these issues, along with selecting the right people, tips for training, retention, legal issues, and ways to track labor costs. Ellen Polishuk, Potomac Vegetable Farms (VA).

What Do Chefs Want: Increase Your Success at Marketing to Restaurants – Marketing directly to restaurants can be profitable, but it can also be difficult. Learn from an “insider” about what chefs want from local farmers, and how to deliver it without breaking your farm. This session will help you understand what is important to chefs, and how to create a relationship that pays off for you. Judith Winfrey, Resurgens Hospitality Group and Love Is Love Farm (GA).

Fostering and Supporting Youth Leaders Through Farm/Garden Projects – Does your farm or organization want to go beyond introducing students to gardening? Learn how to use farming and gardening to empower youth leaders, teach entrepreneurship and other skills, and use a service learning model to engage students in creating a more sustainable food system. Nat Turner and students TBD, Our School at Blair Grocery (LA).

Food Hub Lessons 2: Operating For Self-Sufficiency and Growth – Whether you are just starting a regional food hub or food value chain, have been operating one for some time, or are assisting others, it helps to hear lessons from the field. Staff members from two organizations will discuss issues specific to more advanced businesses such as production planning, distribution, financial operations, income generation, and more. Anthony Flaccavento, who started a successful food hub, will facilitate the conversation and add insight. Laurie & Will Moore, Moore Farms and Friends (AL/GA); Alan Moore, Local Food Hub (VA); and Anthony Flaccavento, SCALE (VA).

General Conference Sessions
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

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Take Advantage of Mycorrhizal Fungi for Improved Soil Fertility and Plant Health – Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are beneficial soil fungi that form a symbiosis with the majority of crop plants, enhancing nutrient uptake and improving disease and drought resistance. This presentation will draw on 24 years of studies at the Rodale Institute to explain the biology and functioning of the symbiosis, how farming practices impact the native population of AM fungi, and the on-farm production and utilization of inoculum of these beneficial fungi. David Douds, USDA ARS-ERRC (PA). Repeat.

Organic Insect Pest Management for Vegetable Crops – It’s best to have an integrated pest management (IPM) plan in mind before planting your crops. This workshop will provide an in-depth review of the three-tiered organic pest management approach with the latest information on trap crops (summer and winter crops), techniques to block insects from host plants, and use of approved insecticides under high pest pressure conditions. We’ll also include live insect demonstrations and samples of beneficial insects. Ayanava Majumdar, Auburn Univ. (AL).

Are Moveable Hoophouses For You? – High tunnels provide a protected environment for extending the growing season and producing high quality crops, but they can also create management problems. Learn how two growers are using moveable hoophouses to better manage their soil fertility along with pest and disease issues. They will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of moveable vs. stationary tunnels, and provide tips for how to use them. Alex Hitt, Peregrine Farm (NC) and Celia Barss, Woodland Gardens (GA).

Producing Pasture Raised Eggs for Market — Learn about the possibilities of egg production with chickens, as well as alternative species of heritage fowl including ducks, geese, and turkeys. This session will explore best breeds, flock and nutrition management, facility designs, marketing tips and expected income possibilities. We’ll also let you know some of the regulations you need to consider, and where to get further information. Jeannette Beranger, The Livestock Conservancy (NC), and Janet Beall and Susan Graves, Little Escambia Poultry Farm (AL).

Using Mobile Technology and Social Media on the Farm – Learn how two farm families use modern smart phones, tablets and computers for everything from keeping records and handling money at the farmers’ market, to managing a CSA and keeping customers engaged. They will discuss programs they use for communications, marketing, planning, management, accounting, weather reporting and much more. Learn software options, how to choose the right hardware and tools, and affordable options. Adam & Caleb Colvin, Colvin Family Farm (TN) and Paul & Alison Wiediger, Au Naturel Farm (KY).

Our Story: Adding Value and Creating Profit on an Urban Farm – City Roots, South Carolina’s first urban farm, has created a highly diverse farming model that includes the production of over 100 varieties of fruits, vegetables and micro-greens, along with poultry, aquaponics and an apiary. They market their certified organic products through farmers’ markets, a CSA, and a food hub. Farm Manager Eric McClam will explain how they add value and profitability to the farm through branding, marketing, and diverse activities such as school tours, on site farm dinners, festivals, private events, and partnerships. Eric McClam, City Roots (SC).

Creating Educational and Profitable Farm Field Trips and Tours – Farm field trips and tours are an excellent opportunity to provide valuable field-based education for students while generating income for your farm or organization. Learn best practices for creating meaningful curriculum and activities, addressing safety concerns, and hosting field trips that will ensure visitors return. Stephanie Munkachy, Jones Valley Teaching Farm (AL)

In Defense of the Future: A Work in Progress – Hear lessons from an elder in our movement. Michael Sligh has been advocating for policies and programs that support the long-term vision of organic agriculture and community-based food systems for 30 years. He was founding Chair of the National Organic Standards Board, a founder of Southern SAWG, and is a vocal advocate for farmer and worker rights and for GMO accountability. Hear his perspective on the current state of play, some of our important wins and losses, and where we need to go from here. Michael Sligh, RAFI-USA (NC).

Taste of Alabama Dinner
Saturday, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

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Always a highlight of the weekend, food produced by sustainable and organic farmers in Alabama will be featured at this plated dinner Saturday evening at the close of the conference. Come enjoy the fellowship and good food with your peers. No better way to start off the new season!  Each general conference registration includes a ticket for the Taste of Alabama Dinner. (ticket required)

Conference Concludes