Special Events

2017 Special Activities

In addition to the regular conference sessions, we will provide you several other exciting ways to learn, grow, network and celebrate!

This year we are bringing in two highly-regarded keynote presenters that will emphasize our contributions, as participants in the sustainable agriculture movement, to a better society. Their thought-provoking presentations will provide us inspiration as we head into the new season.

Opening Keynote — Friday morning

Ricardo Salvador

Ricardo Salvador

Healthy Farms, Healthy Food and Healthy People

Join us for this eye-opening session with Ricardo Salvador. 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 an 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.


Closing Keynote — Saturday evening

K. Rashid Nuri

K. Rashid Nuri

Transforming Communities with Our Farms

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, Georgia into vibrant farms and 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.

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 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.

In this keynote address, K. Rashid Nuri will discuss the transformative power of farming in inner city communities. He will inspire us all to tap into this power to build communities across race and cultures.


A glimpse of the crowd from last year's Taste of Kentucky dinner.

A glimpse of the crowd from last year's Taste of Kentucky dinner.

Taste of Kentucky Banquet Dinner — Saturday evening

This plated dinner Saturday evening at the close of the event will feature ingredients produced by sustainable and organic farmers in Kentucky. Please join us for this special time to reflect and to celebrate. Each conference registration includes a ticket for the Taste of Kentucky dinner.


Intensive Short Courses — Wednesday all day and Thursday morning

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. To learn more about the intensive short courses we are offering this year, click here. Registration is required and pre-registration is strongly encouraged.


Organic Agriculture Research Symposium (OARS) — Wednesday all day and Thursday morning

This symposium will allow researchers to provide their latest research results to those interested in organic agriculture. It 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 OARS, click here. Please note this symposium is being offered at the same time as the short courses.


Mini Courses — Thursday afternoon

Our ½ day mini courses give participants an opportunity to get in-depth information on specific topics of greatest interest. Our expert presenters will dive into these topics, provide you the latest information and answer your pressing questions. To learn more about the mini courses we are offering this year, click here. Registration is required and pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Please note that these mini courses are being offered at the same time as the field trips.


Field Trips — Thursday afternoon

Our ½ day field trips are always popular. We’ve got an in-the-field learning opportunity for everyone! To learn more about the field trips we are offering this year, click here. Registration is required and pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Please note that these field trips are being offered at the same time as the mini courses.


The trade show is a great place to gather information and shop.

The trade show is a great place to gather information and shop.

Trade Show — Friday and Saturday

Businesses, agencies and organizations offering sustainable agriculture supplies, information and services will be available to help you find what you need. A large selection of tools, equipment, seeds, growing aids, literature and catalogs, and many other supplies will be available for you to purchase. Click here to learn more about being a vendor or advertiser.

Studying research posters.

Studying research posters.

Mississippi gathers for a state networking session.

Mississippi gathers for a state networking session.


Posters — Friday and Saturday

Posters describing programs or recent research relevant to sustainable agriculture and community food systems will be on display for your review. Click here to learn more about displaying a poster.


State Networking Sessions — Friday afternoon

The 2016 policy information exchange session.

The 2016 policy information exchange session.

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


Information Exchange Sessions — Saturday afternoon

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 others 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.

  • Young and Beginning Farmers
  • Military Veterans
  • People of Color in Sustainable Agriculture
  • High Tunnels
  • Predator and Pest Control
  • Farm Hacking: Equipment and Tools Innovations
  • Pastured Pork Production
  • Pastured Beef Production
  • Cut Flowers
  • Teaching Farms: Preparing the Next Generation of Farmers
  • Urban Farms
  • Extension Research
  • National Organic Standards
  • Managing Farmers Markets
  • Tips for Selling in Direct Markets
  • Farm to School/Institution Programs Networking Across the South

To learn more about each of these information exchange sessions, click here.


Sold Out Policy

Space is limited for field trips, short courses and mini courses. If one is sold out, we will immediately indicate that it is sold out on our registration and program web pages. Our online pre-registration system will not allow you to register for a sold out event. But if we receive your mailed-in registration for a field trip or course that has sold out, we will immediately notify you and offer you an alternative. A refund for sold out field trips or courses will be provided if desired.

We do not create waiting lists. If the field trip of your choice is sold out before you secure a ticket, you may standby at departure time to purchase seats that may become available at the last minute.

Though we have never had to cancel a field trip, field trips may be cancelled if minimum registration is not reached. You will be immediately notified and a refund will be provided if we cancel due to low registration.

We do not provide refunds due to inclement weather. But we highly recommend you wear clothing and footwear suitable for January.

Should the conference registration exceed our expectations, dinner tickets may not be available for late registrants.