2017 Mini Courses

2017 Pre-conference Mini Courses

Thursday, January 26, 2017
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 three hot topics:

  1. USDA Grants for Local Food Systems
  2. Seed Saving and Seed Production as a Farm Enterprise
  3. Applying Biodynamic Principles to Your Farm

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

USDA Grants for Local Food Systems

Perry Mackall with a shopper. Photo Credit: Chuk Nowak for Fair Food Network

Perry Mackall with a shopper.
Photo Credit: Chuk Nowak for Fair Food Network

Presenters: Kate Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald-Canepa, LLC (DC), Sara Berney, Wholesome Wave Georgia (GA), Ashton Potter Wright, Bluegrass Farm to Table (KY), Carmen Franz (TN), Kate Parker, Market Umbrella (LA), Noah Fulmer, Fair Food Network (MI), and Brennan Washington, Southern SARE (GA)

Organizations across the South are increasing access to healthy local food with funding from USDA grants that support local food systems, such as the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Grant Program. This mini course will showcase organizations that have successfully implemented their federally funded projects, and experienced grant writers will share tips for successful grant preparation and common mistakes to avoid. Gain understanding of the USDA grant process, 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

Presenters: Chris Smith, Sow True Seed (VA), Ira Wallace, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and Edmund Frost, Sycamore Farm (VA)

Photo courtesy of Sow True Seed.

Photo courtesy of Sow True Seed.

Preservation of seeds is one of the foundations of sustainable food production. Learn about seed saving and seed production for your own farm viability and for possible sales to independent seed companies who contract directly with farmers—both organic and non-organic. Chris Smith will discuss the increased consumer demand for regionally grown seeds and the advantages of adding seed crop to on-farm diversification for resilient agriculture and seed preservation. Chris will also share his personal experiences growing an on-farm experimental okra variety trial and how you can do the same. Ira Wallace will provide the specifics of how to contract with companies, what seed companies are looking for, sample contracts, what seed crops to grow, average seed yields and prices farmers can expect. Contract seed farmer Edmund Frost will offer a growers perspective, from his own Sycamore Farm and as former manager of Twin Oaks Seed Farm. He will share production concepts and techniques including: seed crop isolation and layout, deciding on seed contracts, how to maintain and improve varieties, and basic techniques of harvesting and cleaning wet and dry seed crops.

Mini Course #3

Applying Biodynamic Principles to Your Farm

Presenters: Laura Riccardi Lyvers, Biodynamic Agricultural Resources (KY), and Philip Lyvers, Lyvers Farm (KY).

A lush forage field of alfalfa and orchardgrass at Foxhollow Farm. Photo by Laura Riccardi Lyvers.

A lush forage field of alfalfa and orchardgrass at Foxhollow Farm. Photo by Laura Riccardi Lyvers.

Biodynamics is often seen as mysterious, yet thousands of farmers around the world use biodynamic principles to farm more sustainably. Two farmers will explain the practical and the esoteric aspects of biodynamics. Using experiences from their own food production and practices on two very different farms as examples, they 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. There will be plenty of time for questions to help you understand how to apply biodynamics to your own farm. Laura runs the biodynamic program for Foxhollow Farm, which uses only biodynamic and organic practices to raise grass fed beef on 700 acres of pasture. Philip runs Lyvers Farm, a large-scale grain and livestock farm, using a combination of biodynamic, organic, and conventional practices to raise hogs without antibiotics, vaccines, hormones or wormers, and crops without soluble fertilizer. Together they raise their own food supply biodynamically, producing meats, dairy products, fruits and vegetables, medicinal and culinary herbs, and flowers.