2017 Conference Program

2017 Conference Program Schedule

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Our conference 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. All conference sessions, pre-conference courses and field trips will be led by successful producers and well-respected educators and organizers from around the region with extensive knowledge and, more importantly, practical experience.



Wednesday, January 25, 2017 and Thursday January 26, 2017



Intensive Short Courses

Wednesday, January 25, 2017, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Thursday, January 26, 2017, 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

These 1 ½ day short courses are high-value learning experiences that provide you comprehensive, and in-depth information, with practical lessons from some of the most experienced experts in the region. Plus participants will get an invaluable collection of useful take-home materials for continued learning.

Short Course #1     Start-Up Organic Vegetable Production and Marketing
This comprehensive course on organic vegetable production and marketing will give you the critical information needed to get off to a great start and make the most of your early farming years. Information in this course is designed for new farmers, interns and apprentices, those thinking about switching careers to farming and those who’ve been at it a little while.

Short Course #2     Mixing and Matching Cattle, Sheep and Goats on Pasture
This course is for those who already have some knowledge of livestock management and want to learn how to raise multiple species on pasture. The focus will be on multi-species management — cattle/sheep/goats, cattle/sheep, or cattle/goats — with a special emphasis on filling the information void around sheep production.

Short Course #3     Permaculture for Commercial Vegetable Production
This course will provide a wealth of information for beginning and established farmers who want to learn how permaculture design can make their farm more sustainable, efficient and profitable. Techniques and strategies that work for any scale will be covered, including interweaving permaculture and production symbiotically to harvest the many benefits and layers of resilience.

Short Course #4     Student Farms: Maximizing Learning Opportunities on College Farms
This course addresses the unique challenges facing the creation, design and management of student farms on college campuses. Information in this course is designed for those already running student farms, as well as schools and organizations interested in starting a student farm.

To learn more about these four exciting short courses, click here.



Wednesday, January 25, 2017, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Thursday, January 26, 2017, 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Organic Agriculture Research Symposium
This Organic Agriculture Research Symposium (OARS) will allow researchers to provide their latest research results to those interested in organic agriculture. This symposium will bring together researchers, farmers, ranchers, extension agents, educators, agricultural professionals, and other beneficiaries of organic agriculture and farming systems research to learn about and advance organic farming research.

To learn more about this unique symposium, click here.



Field Trips

Thursday, January 26, 2017 • 12:30 – 5:00 p.m.

Field Trip #1     Feeding Students: A Collegiate Ag Program Nourishing Mind and Body
At Berea College Farm, one of the oldest continuously operating student educational farms in the United States, you’ll learn about their diverse crop production, campus store, food processing facility and how they incorporate this food in campus dining. The farm regularly supplies pork, beef, eggs and fresh produce to the campus dining hall.

Field Trip #2 | SOLD OUT! |Permanent Culture: Creating a Commercial Permaculture Farm
Learn, from a recognized pioneer in farm-scale permaculture, the practices she used to build and now sustain Salamander Springs Farm, including how to transform extremely poor, non-agricultural land into healthy, high-yielding soil. The farm operates completely off-grid with few outside inputs, gravity-fed spring water, small solar electric system, and a passive-solar tiny house.

Field Trip #3     Fertile Land: Growing Organic Vegetables and High Yield Soil
Learn how Elmwood Stock Farm optimizes harvests and vegetable selection for maximum desirability at specific sales outlets. They use advanced rotational practices, rotating vegetables, animals, and fallow fields, to grow excellent crops and the soil. See their high tunnels, greenhouse, farm equipment, packing shed and market vehicles.

Field Trip #4 | SOLD OUT! | Veggies and Herbs: Ways to Extend Season, Control Pests, and Grow a Superior Product
Henkle's Herbs and Heirlooms, specializes in heirloom and hybrid vegetables and herb production. Onsite you will find a greenhouse heated with a wood-fired boiler, two high tunnels, and a commercial catering kitchen. Learn how they make their operation resilient, and how customer service is paramount in developing direct market and restaurant sales.

Field Trip #5 | SOLD OUT! |Work Smarter: Equipment, Machines, and Structures for Increasing Efficiency
At the University of Kentucky research farm you’ll see and learn about best uses for a wide variety of tractors, cultivators, planters and other farm equipment. See old tractors modified to fit new equipment. Soil conditions allowing, demonstrations of equipment will be provided.

Field Trip #6 | SOLD OUT! |Full Circle: Building a Food System from Field to Freezer | SOLD OUT!
The first stop will be a farm producing lambs on pasture. Learn why they raise katahdin (hair) sheep and the challenges and opportunities of entering the wholesale marketplace. Second stop will be a small-scale USDA meat processing facility and market utilized by small-scale livestock operations in the area. Learn about their artisan processing, state of the art packaging and food safety standards.

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

To learn more about these six great field trips, click here.


Mini Courses

Thursday, January 26, 2017, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. 

These ½ day courses give participants an opportunity to spend an afternoon learning what the experts know and getting valuable practical tips.

Mini Course #1     USDA Grants for Local Food Systems
Gain an understanding of the USDA grant process, tips for successful grant preparation and common mistakes to avoid, what the future holds for federal funding of local food systems projects, and how you can be involved in maximizing the flow of these federal funds in the South.

Mini Course #2     Seed Saving and Seed Production as a Farm Enterprise
Preservation of seeds is one of the foundations of sustainable food production. Learn seed saving and seed production techniques for your own farm viability and for possible sales to independent seed companies who contract directly with farmers — both organic and non-organic.

Mini Course #3     Applying Biodynamic Principles to Your Farm
Two farmers will provide both an introduction to biodynamics and a deepening of “Biodynamic Thinking.” Participants will learn how to use the biodynamic preparations, why they are used, and what it means to create a farm organism.

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

To learn more about these informative mini courses, click here.


Mix It Up!

Thursday, January 26, 2017, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Thursday evening we’ll have a seed exchange, presenters autographing their books, music and a cash bar. Come catch up with old friends and meet new ones. This is a great opportunity to meet some of the people doing great work around the region.


Friday, January 27, 2017 and Saturday January 28, 2017



The general conference, with over 90 expert presenters offers a wide variety of sessions. We have sessions for those with years of experience and for those who are new to the field. The line-up includes a whopping 56 educational sessions, plus a state networking session for each of the 13 states in our region, along with 16 information exchange/crowdsourcing sessions where you get to exchange ideas and information with those who share your interests. Also built into the general conference schedule are a trade show, research posters and Taste of Kentucky banquet dinner.

Trade Show and Poster Display
Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.


Concurrent General Conference Sessions
Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

What’s an Organic Grower to Do About Those Pesky Pests — Cucumber beetles, flea beetles, Harlequin bugs, squash bugs and squash vine borers are some of the peskiest pests for organic growers in the southern region. An extension agent who works with growers on sustainable and organic production practices will show slides of these pests in various stages of maturity so you can know what you are dealing with before you get a population explosion. She will discuss how to control these pests with organic practices and materials. Join in the discussion of which techniques work and don’t work to control these pests. Debbie Roos, NC Extension/Growing Small Farms (NC)

Introduction to No-Till Organic Farming on a Small Scale Foundation Farm is a machine-free, certified organic farm which produces $80,000 in yearly produce and herbs on 24,000 square feet of bed surface. Their no-till farming system has been fine-tuned over the last 10 years to make efficient use of time and inputs, leading to increased profit margins. In this session, Patrice will review all eight building blocks of no-till and will explain the basic cultivation requirements and methods which allow him to produce all four seasons while increasing his fertility. Patrice Gros, Foundation Farm (AR)

Mid-Scale Mixed Vegetable Production — Want to know what it takes to ramp up production and profits? This couple started farming three acres in 1983, selling produce at one farmers market. Today they manage 65 acres of vegetables and market to a 1600 member CSA, six farmers markets, and 30 restaurants. Hear about the decisions they made, and how those decisions impacted their income, quality of life and sustainability as they grew. They’ll discuss how to grow on that scale, land and financing, infrastructure, markets (direct vs. wholesale), labor, and more. Joan and Drew Norman, One Straw Farm (MD)

Capturing and Managing Water for Livestock on Your Farm — Water is the most important livestock nutrient. With increasingly erratic weather patterns, strategies for water management have become critical for successful farms. This long-time cattle and sheep producer and NRCS grazing lands specialist will show you management techniques you can use to capture, store and direct water to your livestock. This session will address multiple water sources (through rain water, ponds, springs, streams), and how to direct it to multiple water points on your farm with various pump methods (gravity, ram, nose, sling), to storage tanks and water troughs while maintaining water quality. Learn what technical information and resources you can obtain through your local NRCS office. Greg Brann, Natural Resources Conservation Services (TN)

Save on Farm Costs through Farmer-to-Farmer Sharing This session will help you learn how you can create a sharing program with farmers in your area. What to buy? How are purchases funded? Who uses it when? How does it get repaired? Additionally, you will get tips on how groups of farmer can negotiate lower prices on farm supplies. Hear how a Mississippi cooperative has purchased and shared machinery, equipment and tools for over 30 years by its farmer members across four counties. As well as how a grant funded group of small farmers in NC formed and operate Tool Legit, the Sustainable Agriculture Tool Lending Library, that shares small and large pieces of equipment among 10 farms. Frank Taylor, Winston County Self-Help Cooperative (MS) and Tim MacAller, Four Leaf Farm and Tool Legit (NC)

Using Online Tools to Sell Farm Products — Learn about simple and affordable options for creating an online store to take preorders, process payments, handle CSA signups, and more. This session will cover several popular software and application options including Square Readers, Paypal, Farmigo, Small Farms Central, Locallygrown.net, and other simple online tools. It will help you decide which tools will benefit you and help you increase your sales and profits. Adam and Isaac Colvin, Colvin Family Farm (TN)

Our Story: The Farmers are Global, the Food is Local — Learn how Global Growers Network creates opportunities in sustainable agriculture by connecting local refugee families to land, educational tools, and local markets. Global Growers grew out of the tremendous demand among international farmers, many who came to Atlanta as refugees of war, to reconnect to their agricultural heritage in their new home. Global Growers has developed a shared, collective farm model where farmers share infrastructure and equipment and can opt to sell through the Global Growers CSA and weekly farm stands. In partnership with The Common Market Georgia, a local food hub, Global Growers is rapidly expanding into Atlanta's wholesale marketplace and is poised to scale their production on a larger farm site. Susan Pavlin, Pavlin Consulting (GA) and Robin Chanin, Global Growers Network (GA)

Grassroots Organizing 101: Meeting with Your Elected Officials — Face-time with elected officials is critical in getting needed legislation passed and preventing bad legislation. Ever wonder how to secure a meeting with a legislator or a local elected official? Or have you wanted to organize a “Fly-In” with your state or federal representatives? In this session we will discuss the best approaches for getting a meeting with elected officials; and how to maximize your impact. Judith McGeary, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (TX), Matt Coffay, National Young Farmers Coalition and Second Spring Farm (NC) and LeMario Brown, Fort Valley City Council (GA)


Welcome and Opening Keynote Address
Friday, 9:45 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

At this large gathering, we’ll mark the beginning of another year working to increase the sustainability of agriculture. We are the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group! We’ll gain inspiration from Ricardo Salvador in his opening keynote address.

Ricardo J. Salvador, Union of Concerned Scientists

Ricardo J. Salvador, Union of Concerned Scientists

Healthy Farms, Healthy Food, Healthy People
Ricardo J. Salvador, Union of Concerned Scientists (DC)

Join us for this eye-opening session. We come here from all across the country and have differing roles in the food and farming system. We come to share and gain knowledge and to grow the movement. In this session, we’ll hear from one of our country’s leading experts on the connections between food and health, environment, economic development, sovereignty, and social justice. Because sustainably produced local foods are critical to the health of our citizens, all of us here play an important role in the health of our communities. Ricardo Salvador will help you gain a better understanding of why your work is so important.

Earlier in his career, while an agronomist at Iowa State University, Ricardo Salvador taught the first course in sustainable agriculture at a land-grant university, and his graduate students conducted some of the original academic research on community-supported agriculture. He worked with students to establish ISU's student-operated organic farm, and with other faculty to develop the nation’s first sustainable agriculture graduate program in 2000. In 2013 he was named a NBC Latino Innovator and in 2014 he received the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award.

As the senior scientist and director of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Ricardo Salvador works with citizens, scientists, economists, and politicians to transition our current food system into one that grows healthy foods while employing sustainable and socially equitable practices.


Concurrent General Conference Sessions
Friday, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Basic Soil Improvement Techniques for Sustainable Farmers — Learn how managing organic matter in your soil affects both plants and pests. This session will present successful tactics for improving soil health organically to help you grow healthier plants, enhance beneficial organisms, combat destructive pests, improve yields and improve profits. Joel Gruver, Western Illinois University (IL)

High Tunnel Crop Management for Wholesale Production — This session will cover how you can optimize your high tunnel for wholesale production. Learn design principles for scaling up, appropriate wholesale crops to grow, how to access specific market windows for increased profits, and what to expect when dealing with wholesale buyers. Cory Mosser, Natural Born Tillers (GA)

“Fresh” means FRESH! — How you handle produce before, during and after harvesting makes a huge difference to the long-term quality. In this session we will explain how to get practical information on the handling needs for various horticultural crops and give you tips for low-cost pre-harvest and post-harvest practices to increase the quality and shelf-life of your produce. We’ll also include information about using CoolBot technology for low-cost refrigeration in the field, at your packing site, and at market along with customizing an efficient and ergonomic wash station. Josh Hardin, Laughingstock Farm (AR) and Mike Appel, Three Springs Farm (OK)

Our Story: Intensive Cattle Grazing on a Small Scale — In 2007, this couple retired into farming with an overgrown, partially fenced 25-acre property purchased to secure higher ground away from flooding. What started as four Black Angus cattle to keep the land clean has turned into a nice supplemental retirement income from their current 12-cow herd. Hear how this couple makes a profit through rotational grazing, small business management practices and marketing through private sales and auctions. Edith and Alfred Gross, Two G Ranch (LA)

Keeping Good Financial Records and Why You Should — Gain insight on what sort of information you need to make informed business decisions and learn the importance of keeping good records. This farmer will walk you through her recordkeeping system and show how she uses those systems to make important decisions for her business and track its success. This will include how she determines, in a diversified operation, which crops are making money and which are not. Julia Asherman, Rag and Frass Farm (GA)

Is That Farmers Market Right for You? — It’s easy to think you should be selling your farm products in as many markets as possible. But wisely choosing which farmers markets to sell at can be critical to the success of your farming operation. This session gives you key factors to consider when deciding which markets make sense for your business, such as timing, market rules, customer and vendor base, logistics, etc. We’ll also help you decide whether or not selling at several markets is right for you. Sometimes less is more! Tim Woods, University of Kentucky (KY) and Jamie Davis, A Way of Life Farm (NC)

Ensuring the Financial Viability of Your Food Hub — Exploring Factors of Food Hub Success and Failure - Successful food hub models across the nation have shown promise as a route to increasing small farm viability and revitalizing local economies, but many food hubs have also struggled to become financially viable. Jim Barham has spent the last eight years studying the ins and outs of different models. In this session he’ll share with you the factors that lead to success and failure. James Barham, USDA Rural Development (DC)

Fair Prices for Farmers and Good Food for All — Health and obesity numbers for the South are some of the worst in the nation. Fresh food is either unavailable or unaffordable for far too many. Yet, farmers struggle to make a living wage and the number of farmers in the South continues to decline. There is a solution. We can have fair prices for farmers and affordable food for all. Hear one of the nation’s top policy analysts explain our role in bringing about this radical, and desperately needed change. Ricardo J. Salvador, Union of Concerned Scientists (DC)


Lunch Break
Friday, 12:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Lunch on your own. Visit the trade show and the poster display.


Concurrent General Conference Sessions
Friday, 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Organic and Biodynamic Disease Control — The biodynamic approach to farming stems from a different way of thinking about the activity and health of the plant, animal and farm. This session explores the biodynamic concepts and techniques of disease prevention in both crops and livestock. Basic biodynamic principles will be covered, as well as actual successes (and failures) the Lyvers have had raising hogs, corn, and wheat through biodynamic, organic, and conventional techniques. Laura and Philip Lyvers, Lyvers Farm (KY)

Diversify Your Vegetable Crops — Offer a broader range of vegetables to keep your customers coming back for something new and different, while still supplying their old favorites. Attract restaurant chefs by offering crops and varieties they don't easily find elsewhere. Introduce your CSA customers or school and institutional clients to crops they haven't tried before. Learn how to distinguish between the crops likely to succeed and the siren call of too many weird eggplants. Pam Dawling, Twin Oaks Community (VA)

Tie One On: Everything You've Ever Needed to Know About Trellising — There are few practices that can be as frustrating and potentially rewarding as trellising. Good trellising can increase yields and decrease pest/disease pressure, while poor technique can result in lost revenues and giant August messes for tired farmers to clean up. Using tips and tricks gleaned from several experienced growers, we will delve into the costs and benefits of trellising specific crops including peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, brambles and fruit trees. We will also cover greenhouse trellising and alternative materials and methods. Cory Mosser, Natural Born Tillers (GA)

Increasing Pastured Poultry Profits — Want to hear how to put more of that pastured poultry profit in your pocket and not into the bird? Mac and Steve will run some real numbers on pastured poultry operations, showing typical costs, expenses, and net profits per bird at different price points using certified organic feed and using non-organic feed. Then they’ll discuss ways to increase profit margins by reducing expenses, changing marketing tactics, raising prices and eliminating costly steps. Mac Stone, Elmwood Stock Farm (KY) and Steve Skelton, Kentucky State University (KY)

Building Valuable Internship/Apprenticeship Experiences on Your Farm — Apprenticeships can offer an excellent learning experience for beginning farmers while also providing host farms with dedicated, enthusiastic workers. Learn about training resources available to help farmers become good teachers and to help new apprentices become safe and efficient workers. Presenters will have an honest discussion about the pitfalls and risks of hosting workers, and you’ll learn from a farmer with a longstanding apprenticeship program about how to find the right fit of workers, identify what work activities help future farmers succeed, and how to create educational opportunities that can be built into the apprenticeship. Mark Cain, Drippings Springs Garden (AR) and Nikki Seibert Kelley, Wit Meets Grit (SC)

Marketing to Restaurants: Developing Farmer/Chef Relationships — Partnerships between chefs and local farmers can be a win-win for the both parties, but it takes extra effort and thoughtfulness on both sides to make it work. Learn how nationally recognized Chef Ouita Michel makes purchasing local ingredients a top priority in her five restaurants in the Lexington area, and how she’s navigated the difficulties of sourcing from small-scale local growers. In addition, Snow’s Bend Farm will share how they pull off selling to 20 restaurants during peak seasons, and what they have learned from forming these chef relationships. Chef Ouita Michel, Holly Hill Inn (KY) and Margaret Ann Toohey and David Snow, Snow’s Bend Farm (AL)

Processing Local Farm Products for Distribution in Larger Markets — Processing is often a barrier that limits farmers from getting their products into larger markets. Several food distributors have successfully addressed this issue by taking on the processing and packaging of produce as part of their business model. Learn how they make this profitable for the farmer and their business and how they make the finished products desirable and affordable for buyers. James Barham, USDA Rural Development (DC) and Maxine White, Coalition for Healthier Eating (NC) and Glyen Holmes, New North Florida Cooperative (FL)

Our Story: New Roots is Delivering Food Justice in Kentucky and BeyondNew Roots works with fresh food insecure communities to create sustainable systems for accessing farm-fresh food. The main fruits of their labor are the Fresh Stop Markets — farm-fresh food markets that pop up at local churches, housing authorities, and community centers in target neighborhoods. Learn about their organization, how they work with farmers and eaters, and how they are delivering food justice in their community! Karyn Moskowitz New Roots (KY) and Anna Meeker and Joy Harris, Lexington Fresh Stop Markets (KY)


Concurrent General Conference Sessions
Friday, 3:45 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

Getting a Grip on Weeds in Organic Vegetable Production — Weeds are a major issue for organic farmers in the South. This session will review the ecology of weeds (why weeds grow, ecological succession, weeds as indicators of soil conditions, dynamic accumulators, soil management and cover cropping strategies to offset weedy succession in your fields), followed by practical weed control methods (plasticulture and direct-seeded fields, organic mulches and living mulches, innovative mechanical cultivation implements) in organic vegetable production. Come hear an experienced farm manager describe “what works”! Steve Diver, UKY Horticulture Research Farm (KY)

Flower Power on One Acre — Cut flowers are great for attracting customers and boosting your income, but the learning curve for successfully growing and marketing flowers can be steep. Help is here. Mimo and Miranda will discuss how, on their one-acre urban farm in the heart of St Louis, they work out the financials and profitability of selling cut flowers grown in the field, in high tunnels, and in greenhouses. They'll also discuss resources for the nascent cut flower farmer, beginning variety selection, and marketing strategies. Karen 'Mimo' Davis and Miranda Duschack, Urban Buds: City Grown Flowers (MO)

Beginning Farmers: Next Steps in Sustaining Your Farm — The start-up period for beginning farmers is usually occupied with securing land, collecting basic tools and equipment, and figuring out what crops you can produce and sell. In the second phase of farming, sustaining the farm quickly becomes the focus for younger growers. This couple, who have been farming organically for thirteen years, will share the challenges that arise once young farmers pass through that critical first few years and into the next chapter of their farm. They will address production, equipment, marketing, financial, and lifestyle choices they’ve made to help them maintain their vegetable farm for the long run. Mike Appel and Emily Oakley, Three Springs Farm (OK)

Holistic Animal Healthcare — True animal health involves more than just curative treatment. Preventive measures build the health of animals holistically. Learn some of the keys to developing a framework for integrated, holistic livestock care — such as reducing stress and providing good nutrition — along with tips and remedies for common ailments. Ann Wells, a noted veterinarian, livestock rancher and educator will present information that is specific to ruminants, but will also be applicable to other animal species. Ann Wells, Springpond Holistic Animal Health and Ozark Pasture Beef (AR)

H2A: Hiring Foreign Guest Workers for Your Farm — Are you in need of a large and committed work crew during your peak season? The federal H-2A guest worker program allows agricultural employers to hire workers from other countries on temporary work permits for agricultural jobs. The program can be a win-win for the workers and your farm. Gain insights from farmers that have extensive experience employing H-2A workers, including insights on the process of employing workers and the pros and cons of this program, and hear how these farmers build good working relationships with these valuable workers. John Bell and Ann Bell Stone, Elmwood Stock Farm (KY)

Sell More! Increasing Your Sales at Farmers Markets While you spend most of your hours on your farm growing incredible produce, your farmers market stall is often the public face of your business. Your product mix, signage, booth layout, produce arrangement, and salespeople all offer opportunities to attract or deter shoppers. Ken will discuss lessons learned from 35 years selling at farmers markets and offer tips for successful selling in an ever changing market place. Make sure your time and effort are paying off on market days! Ken Dawson, Maple Spring Gardens (NC)

Our Story: Appalachian Sustainable Development - Since 1995, Appalachian Sustainable Development has been working in Central Appalachia creating solutions to regional challenges that impact workforce development, food access and health and wellness. They have their hand in all sorts of exciting work in sustainable agriculture, food access and sustainable forestry. Learn how their programs are helping to grow food, communities and opportunities in Appalachia. Kathlyn Terry, Appalachian Sustainable Development (VA)

Working Collaboratively Towards Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Implementation — FSMA implementation has begun. The FDA is working collaboratively with state health and agriculture departments and those departments are working with farmers and other stakeholders to ensure a smooth implementation process. Or are they? Find out how farmers are getting engaged with the FSMA implementation—their successes and challenges—and becoming thoughtful leaders in the process. Sarah Hackney, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (DC) and Roland McReynolds, Carolina Farm Steward Association (NC) and Susie Marshall, GROW North Texas (TX)


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

Gather with those in your state working for sustainable agriculture and community food systems 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.



Trade Show and Poster Display
Saturday, 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


Concurrent General Conference Sessions
Saturday, 8:15 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

Identifying Beneficial Insects for Vegetable 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. Learn how to identify the different life stages of the major beneficial insects useful in vegetable fields in the southern region and understand how they help increase vegetable yields and your profits. Debbie Roos, Growing Small Farms / NC Cooperative Extension (NC)

Storage Vegetables for Off-Season Sales — This session will provide details on approaches to “banking” crops you can sell during the winter and early spring, and still get a break from production. You’ll get critical information about suitable crops, schedules and storage conditions for four ranges of cold-hardy crops (warm and cool weather crops to harvest and store before very cold weather; crops to keep alive in the ground further into winter, then store; hardy crops to store in the ground and harvest during the winter, and overwinter crops for early spring harvests before the main season). In addition, tables of cold hardiness and tables of storage conditions needed for different vegetables and suggestions of suitable storage methods, with and without electricity will be shared. Pam Dawling, Twin Oaks Community (VA)

Optimizing Organic Transplant Production — Seedling production is the first stage to a successful organic market farming operation whether vegetable, herbs, or flower crops. This session will review choices among soil block and plug trays, typical cell numbers for different crops, commercial organic potting mixes, homemade organic potting mixes, horticultural media components, amendment options ranging from composts and vermicomposts to organic fertilizers and trace elements, and supplementing transplant growth with liquid organic fertilizers. The UK Horticulture Research Farm has developed methods for producing top quality organic seedlings. Come hear this farm superintendent describe "what works"! Steve Diver, UKY Horticulture Research Farm (KY)

Creating a Successful Heirloom Pork Enterprise — Learn some of the key components of sustainable pork production and marketing from this family farmer. This session will address breed selection, pasture management, facilities for humane and natural rearing, and good practices for promoting animal health and meat quality. Building on his experience as manager of Heritage Foods, a network of nearly 100 family farmers, and founder of a community based processing system in the Missouri Ozarks, Kremer will also discuss the best ways to market pork products by connecting with consumers. Russ Kremer, Heritage Foods (MO)

Your Farming Enterprise: What’s in It for You? — Is your farm business sustainable for you? You need to make money, but money alone is not life-sustaining. Hear how a farmer who has been running a successful farm enterprise for over 25 years, incorporates important factors like physical and mental health, quality of life, and personal values into their farm business, while also ensuring that it stays financially viable. This popular presenter will cover this less talked about, but equally important, aspect of farming. Mark Cain, Drippings Springs Garden (AR)

Branding Your Farm Business in Good Times and Bad — Learn how to brand your farm business in innovative ways that create loyal customers and deep partnerships and ensure the long term profitability and security for your farm. From websites to logos, social media to community activism — everything you do sends a message to your customers. Make sure you are telling the story you want to be telling! Learn how you can take simple steps to communicate the contributions and assets that make your farms unique and valuable, and how these steps can pay off in both sales and grassroots support when you need it most! Erin Flynn and Skip Connett, Green Gate Farms (TX)

Getting Your Farm Wholesale Ready — Experienced food hub managers will discuss what wholesale buyers are looking for in terms of quality, communication, price, food safety, consistency and quantity, and how you can make adjustments on your farm to meet expectations. Learn how to seek out wholesale opportunities, what to expect when doing business with a wholesale buyer, and how to decide which ones will be a good fit for your business. Susan Pavlin (GA) and Kathyln Terry, Appalachian Sustainable Development (VA)

Collaborating for a Better Food System — Building a sustainable and equitable food system requires sound public policy and strong collaborative efforts of farmers, food activists, academics/researchers, public health, consumers and elected officials. With the combined work of each of these groups, we can change public policy, gain a better understanding of our communities' needs and create a system that promotes growth on a solid foundation. Come listen and participate in a lively discussion on the importance of community assessments, capacity building, and why/how the good food movement needs you. Natilee McGruder, River Region Food Policy Council (AL), Laura Lauffer, Center for Environmental Farming Systems (NC) and Martin Richards, Community Farm Alliance (KY)


Concurrent General Conference Sessions
Saturday, 10:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

High Tunnel Design and Production — High tunnels offer a great option to extend the growing season and protect plants from weather related risks. This workshop teaches techniques to maximize solar gain and ventilation, improve irrigation and manage rainwater, snow, condensation and rodents. Learn how to intercrop species to increase available space and add low cost passive heating techniques using row covers and shallow solar ponds to improve performance. Shawn Jadrnicek, Clemson Student Organic Farm (SC)

Having the Right Quantity and Mix of Products to Sell Each Week — One of the biggest challenges for diversified, direct-market farms is providing customers with an abundant and continuous flow of products throughout the season. This session will cover some important planning and record-keeping methods you can use to stay on track in the midst of frenetic planting, weeding, irrigating, harvesting and marketing. It will also cover how to balance this careful planning with seat-of-the-pants improvisation when necessary. Jamie Davis, A Way of Life Farm (NC)

Growing Organic Grains to Sell — Is it time to start increasing the supply of organic grains grown in the South? It can be done. For nearly forty years the Farris family has been growing grains organically in Tennessee officially certifying their 470 acre farm in 1997 and are now mentoring the next generation of land stewards on their farm. Come hear how these two families are making a living growing organic wheat, rye, white and yellow corn, soybeans, vetch, barley, and oats alongside an integrated grass-fed beef and chicken operation. Alfred and Carney Farris and Holden and Rebekah Thompson, Windy Acres Farm (TN)

Happy Sheep, Healthy Sheep — As lamb becomes more popular with consumers, there are new opportunities for sheep producers as a stand-alone or add-on livestock enterprise. This session offers both beginning and seasoned sheep producers strategies for selecting and managing healthy sheep at low cost through good pasture management and production practices. Learn what sheep eat, when to breed and how to control for parasites; all will be covered by this experienced veterinarian and producer. Ann Wells, Springpond Holistic Animal Health and Ozark Pasture Beef (AR)

Using Computers, Mobile Devices, and Online Tools to Help You Manage Your Business — Learn about simple computer programs and phone apps that can help you stay organized and reduce the amount of time you are spending on recordkeeping and administrative tasks for your business. This includes tools to record planting and harvesting notes, track employee hours, sales, and expenses, take field notes, manage your CSA and more. Brett Evans and Will Carmines, Red Hawk Farm (NC)

Having Kids and Farming Too: Making It Work for the Family and the Farm — Coupling the demands of managing a farm and raising children is not for the faint of heart! Learn how these couples adjusted their daily farm chores and schedules to weave together the work of farming and parenting, while meeting the extra financial demands of childrearing. They’ll share the most rewarding and most challenging aspects of raising young children while farming and offer tips for what works and what doesn’t. Margaret Ann Toohey and David Snow, Snow’s Bend Farm (AL) and Emily Oakley, Three Springs Farm (OK)

Our Story: We are Truly Living Well — The Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture (TLW) transforms vacant lots in metro Atlanta, GA into vibrant farms/community hubs. TLW currently has five farm sites through the metropolitan Atlanta, where they grow certified naturally grown produce, and make it available to the local community through farmers markets and a CSA. Producing food is not the sole purpose of TLW; it is a means for building and lifting up the distressed communities and reconnecting inner city residents with the land. Learn all about this amazing organization and impact on the design of the new American city from the founder and CEO. K. Rashid Nuri, Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture (GA)

Get Ready! The First Federal Regulation for Produce Farms is Coming! Farms selling more than $25,000 annually in produce could be affected, with some farms needing to be in compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule by January of 2018. This session will cover which farms are affected by the FSMA Rules, when the rule takes effect, and how growers can make sure their farms are ready for compliance. Ample opportunity for questions, discussion, and resource sharing is built into this session to ensure that growers come away with resources they can use to increase their understanding of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule and maintain their competitiveness in the market. Kristin Woods, Produce Safety Alliance (AL), Darrell McGuire, Deep South Food Alliance Food Hub (AL) and Barbara Shipman, RRBG Farms (AL)


Lunch Break
Saturday, 11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Lunch on your own. Visit the trade show and the poster display.


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

Managing for Healthy Roots — If you grow a great root system, the roots will grow a great plant. Organic farming researcher and educator Joel Gruver discusses management strategies that promote healthy root systems through cover crops, tillage tools, soil correctives, microbial inoculants, and more. Learn how to increase the capacity of healthy roots to stimulate microorganisms in your soil. Joel Gruver, Western Illinois University (IL)

Tomatoes in Fields and High Tunnels — Learn some of the most successful organic production practices for growing tomatoes in the South from a farmer who has been growing tomatoes organically for over 30 years. Ken will discuss varieties, markets, transplants, fertility requirements, insect and disease management, trellising systems and many more production practices for growing tomatoes in both the field and high tunnel. Ken Dawson, Maple Spring Gardens (NC)

The Many Benefits of Companion Planting — Get the details on the science and applications behind companion planting methodologies, including trap cropping, nitrogen fixing, weed suppression, root zone modification, biochemical pest suppression, physical spatial interactions, nurse cropping, beneficial habitats, and botanically derived deterrents. In short it’s a whirlwind tour through companion planting translated into practical tools a farmer can use. Justin Duncan, National Center for Appropriate Technology (TX)

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Raising Pastured Poultry — This fifth generation family farmer has a diverse farming operation. Hear how this farm has incorporated pastured poultry production, processing, and marketing into the mix and decide if it's right for you. If you are thinking of adding birds to your farm, get the basics on what all you need to consider, how many to start out with, how to raise them, where to process them, and who your customers are. Andre Barbour, Barbour Farms (KY)

Federal Funding Opportunities for Farmers and Organizations — There are numerous federal funding resources available for farmers, and you can take advantage of them! This session will clue farmers and organization that support farmers in on important funding opportunities and show you how to use the skills you already have to write successful grants and apply for other federal funding. This session is designed to help individuals unfamiliar with grant writing gain the tools they need to seek out opportunities and design successful projects. Let us help you get started! You will receive several handouts and take-home materials, with practical information based on years of project design and grant-writing experience. Margaret Krome, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (WI) and Sagdrina Jalal, Georgia Farmers Market Association (GA)

Thinking Outside of the Box to Sustain Your CSA Long Term — You can ensure that your CSA continues to thrive even when faced with increased competition and a changing climate. Learn how farmers with a decade of CSA experience have evolved their model to meet today’s challenges. Their discussion will include ways they have reached new customers, tailored product selection, changed growing practices, engaged CSA members, and increased their visibility and more. Time for discussion will follow, giving attendees a chance to learn from fellow long-term CSA farmers. Erin Flynn and Skip Connett, Green Gate Farms (TX)

Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Farm to Campus in Kentucky — Farm-to-institution sourcing has been called “the sleeping giant of local food.” The large annual budgets of institutional dining providers represent a transformative opportunity for growing sustainable, just, and healthy regional food systems. However, the technical, logistic, legal, and cultural challenges of integrating ‘good’ food into large scale institutions and college campuses are huge. Learn about University of Kentucky’s innovative approaches to tackling these obstacles head on. Hear about successful and unsuccessful approaches to expanding the impact of farm to institution initiatives on the Kentucky regional food economy. Lilian Brislen, Food Connection, University of Kentucky (KY)

Farm Bill Listening Session — The Farm Bill is up for renewal every five years, and we want to make sure the Southern Sustainable Ag voice is loud and clear. This session is one of many in the upcoming years to gather information on what current Farm Bill programs are working in the South, what programs need to be added, and the challenges in gaining access to information and funding. Join us for a robust discussion and get your voice heard and recorded. Sarah Hackney, National Sustainable Agriculture Institute (DC) and Judith McGeary, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (TX) and Kate Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald-Canepa, LLC (DC)

Information Exchange: Crowdsourcing Knowledge
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

These information exchange sessions have become quite popular over the last few years! This real-time crowd-sourcing gives you a chance to learn from your peers and to share your tips/experience/ knowledge. Instead of a formal presentation, these are loosely structured sessions, with a facilitator to guide the discussion amongst all the participants to help you make the most of your time together. Come prepared to ask and answer questions, share your experiences and listen to others. We’ll provide the room and facilitator. You make the discussion useful

Young and Beginning Farmers — Join with new(ish) farmers to discuss the critical decisions you need to make in the early stages of operating a farm. How did you access land and capital? How are you creating a support system to sustain you? How do you determine your focus and the scale of the operation? Share what’s working for you and discuss your challenges.

Military Veterans — Connect with other veterans in the farming community. Share resources, share your successes, discuss your unique challenges, learn from each other and build networks.

People of Color in Sustainable Agriculture — Join in on a discussion about how more People of Color can start farming or become part of the sustainable food and agriculture movement. How are existing organizations addressing the needs of People of Color in your line of work, and what else needs to be done? Share your insights, concerns, and ideas for making the local food movement more inclusive for all.

High Tunnels — Share with other producers the issues and solutions you’ve encountered in high tunnel production. Come ready to discuss challenges like fertility management, heat regulation, crop rotations and the solutions you are discovering.

Predator and Pest Control — Bring your pest horror stories and how you dealt with them, for sharing in this session. What predators and pests are eating at your profits, and how are you managing them? Learn from others about what works for them and what doesn’t, and swap ideas and questions.

Farm Hacking: Equipment and Tool Innovations — The right tools can make the difference between a day of drudgery and efficient, joyful work. Share your favorite tools and innovations you or others have created that make your life easier. Swap ideas and share your favorite blogs, forums, and other resources for equipment and tools tips and innovations.

Pastured Pork Production — Compare pork production practices with others, and share your solutions, tips and innovations. How do you work with processors to ensure a high quality product? What are your biggest challenges— fencing, predator controls, health management, processing, marketing, others?

Pastured Beef Production — Exchange beef tips (pun intended) with fellow beef producers. What are your biggest challenges — pasture and forage management, holistic health care, fencing, processing, marketing, others? Compare practices and share innovations!

Cut Flowers — Meet with other cut flower growers to discuss the strategies you use for running a sustainable cut flower enterprise. What works best for you? What do you need help with? What are your favorite varieties and best sellers? What are best practices for post-harvest handling and market displays? What are the tricks and logistics to consider when marketing bouquets for special events?

Teaching Farms: Preparing the Next Generation of Farmers — Discuss key challenges and successes with colleagues from different educational models — including independent teaching farmers, farmers at colleges and universities, and those affiliated with other institutions. How do you measure the success of your program? What are your strategies for ensuring that students are prepared for the practical reality of their next farming endeavor?

Urban Farms — Talk with other urban farmers about some of the unique challenges that your urban farm faces, such as zoning regulations, neighbor relations, rental agreements, and more. How has your farm grown and established itself in the community? How have you funded your farm or made it profitable? What specific concerns do you have for the future of your farm? What have been your biggest successes?

Extension Research — Network with other sustainable and organic researchers. Talk about the work you do, challenges you face, your research approaches, and how you make your information available and practical for sustainable and organic farmers. What are the biggest needs and issues in your field? What do you see as important areas of focus in the future? Are there opportunities for collaboration?

National Organic Standards — Meet with National Organic Standards board members to share your insights and feedback on the standards. How are they working for you on your farm? What questions do you have about them? What can you do to improve the standards?

Managing Farmers Markets — Share your experiences with fellow farmers market sellers, board members and market managers. What trends have you noticed at your Market in the last several years, and how is your market evolving to stay relevant in a changing marketplace? Share ideas on organizational structure, rules, marketing, funding, and building community support.

Tips for Selling in Direct Markets — The field is crowded! Come ready to swap sales and marketing tips! How do you make sure your business stands out to customers? What marketing tactics have you found helpful to sell your products? How are you reaching new customers and creating loyal shoppers? What has worked, and what wasn’t worth the time and effort?

Farm to School/Institution Programs Networking Across the South — Connect with partners and farmers across the south who are working to get healthy food into our schools and institutions while supporting local farms. Discuss what is working and not working from both the farmer side and the institution side. Learn what’s next for the National Farm to School Network and how their state leads can assist you with your farm to school projects.


Taste of Kentucky Banquet and Closing Keynote Address
Saturday, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Come enjoy the fellowship with your peers and a plated dinner featuring food from Kentucky farms (one dinner ticket with each conference registration). With dinner will be a keynote address by the inspiring K. Rashid Nuri.

Transforming Communities with Our Farms
K. Rashid Nuri, The Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture (GA)

K. Rashid Nuri, The Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture

K. Rashid Nuri, The Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture

K. Rashid Nuri is a nationally recognized leader in natural urban agriculture. He and a team of community members are transforming vacant lots in some of the most distressed areas of metro Atlanta, GA into vibrant farms/community hubs. They produce certified naturally grown foods and make it available to the local community through farmers markets and a CSA. But producing food is not the sole purpose of The Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture (TLW) farms — it is a means for building and lifting up the community. Their motto is: We Grow Food. We Grow People. We Grow Community. TLW employs 35, many of whom live in the communities within walking distance from TLW’s farm sites. TLW offers a variety of educational programs that demonstrate sustainable and economical solutions for healthier eating and living. In this keynote address, K. Rashid Nuri will discuss the transformative power of farming. He will inspire us all to tap into this power to build communities across race and cultures.

With a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Harvard and a Master’s degree in plant and soil biology from UMass, Rashid has dedicated his 40-year career to agricultural development and food production around the world. He has managed large farm operations in the U.S., Asia, and Africa and also served in the USDA under the President Bill Clinton administration. He serves on the Board of Georgia Organics, Atlanta Local Food Initiative and the Urban Food Abundance Movement.


Mix It Up! Last Chance
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

After dinner and the inspiring keynote, hang out with your friends and make new connections before returning home for the season. We’ll have music and a cash bar. Take time to relax and enjoy the company of so many people doing so many wonderful things around our region.