2018 Conference Program Schedule

Our 2018 conference is over, but check out the most recent program below to get a taste of everything this event offers.



Wednesday, January 17, 2018 and Thursday January 18, 2018


Intensive Short Courses

Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Thursday, January 18, 2018, 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 resources for continued learning.

Short Course #1 — Start-Up Organic Vegetable Production and Marketing

Short Course #2 — Living the Farmer-Florist Dream: Organic Cut Flower Production and Marketing

Short Course #3 Food Safety Practices for Small to Mid-Scale Producers

Short Course #4Dismantling Racism: A Constructive Approach to Solution Building, Community and Agency




Field Trips

Thursday, January 18, 2018 • 12:30 – 5:00 p.m.

For those who learn best by seeing other farms, we have five excellent field trips for you to choose from.

Field Trip #1 Intensive Organic Vegetable Production: Rise ’N Shine Farm -- SOLD OUT!

Field Trip #2 Diversified Family Farming: Sequatchie Cove Farm -- SOLD OUT!

Field Trip #3 Growing Sustainable Vegetables on an Urban Farm: Crabtree Farms -- SOLD OUT!

Field Trip #4 Growing Community with an Urban Farm: Crabtree Farms

Field Trip #5 Farming on Campus: The University of the South: Sewanee

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


Mini Courses

Thursday, January 18, 2018, 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 Five Rules to Maintain Soil Health

Mini Course #2 Drones: They’re for Farming Too

Mini Course #3 Heritage Poultry: Pickin’ the Right Chicken

Mini Course #4 Improving Your Strategic and Program Planning for Measurable Results 

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


Mix It Up!

Thursday, January 18, 2018, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Thursday evening we’ll have a seed exchange, music and a cash bar. We will have a screening from 6:00 p.m to 7:00 p.m. of Farm Aid's film, Homeplace Under Fire, with a discussion following. 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 19, 2018 and Saturday January 20, 2018


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 14 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 and research posters.

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.

Organic No-Till Production and Soil Health — In this introductory session, two seasoned practitioners look at the big picture of organic no-till production systems, why they're important, and how they work. This session highlights the various methods employed to reduce tillage without the use of herbicides, what works and what doesn't, including information on selection of cover crops, vegetable, and grain crops. Patryk Battle, Living Web Farms (NC) and Mark Dempsey, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (NC)

Drip Irrigation for Beginners Learn the basics of drip irrigation including systems, options, pricing, benefits, disadvantages, maintenance, as well as how to choose the right irrigation system for your farm. Also discover government programs for cost share on irrigation. Clif Slade, a farmer and retired Extension specialist will also bring equipment to demonstrate the basics of setting up a system. Clif Slade, Sycamore Springs Farm (VA)

Sanitizer Application for Postharvest Water: When, Where, Why and How? — Discover the options that are out there, the pros and cons of commonly used sanitizers, the National Organic Program standards for postharvest sanitizers, interpreting sanitizer labels, how to monitor their concentrations and more. Come prepared to roll up your sleeves and test your skills measuring sanitizer concentration using the most common methods. Participants will leave with practical knowledge they can immediately apply to their operations. Annette Wszelaki, University of Tennessee (TN)

Go From Weedy to Healthy Diverse Pastures — Did you know that you can prevent weed germination instead of fighting weeds after they dominate your pastures? The secret is in the soil. Learn how to use wastes you already have to quickly change the soil in your weediest areas into healthy pasture. This session will show you how to feed the soil so that you can grow what you want! Vail Dixon, Simple Soil Solutions (VA)

Transitioning Your Farm to the Next Generation — Have you considered transitioning your farm business and assets to a younger person? Aspiring farmers need farms too. Learn about the various pieces of this puzzle— building relationships, business structures, estate, financial, and tax planning — from Peregrine Farm. In their fifth year of a transition plan, hear how Alex Hitt is transitioning his farm to Jennie Rasmussen. Andrew Branan, who is providing legal counsel, will also add tips and advice. Alex Hitt, Peregrine Farm (NC), Jennie Rasmussen, Peregrine Farm (NC), and Andrew Branan, Branan Law Firm, PLLC (NC)

Getting in the Door and Building Relationships with Chefs — Developing a farmer-chef relationship can take extra effort — variety, harvest, quality and communication are important aspects of a win-win partnership. Nationally-recognized chef Erik Neil features local ingredients in Chattanooga's Easy Bistro and Main Street Meats. He’ll talk about working with small-scale local growers and share tips for getting the attention of a busy chef. In addition, Snow’s Bend Farm will share the lessons they’ve gained from selling to over 20 restaurants each year. Erik Neil, Easy Bistro (TN) and David Snow, Snow’s Bend Farm (AL)

Make the Most of Vegetable Grafting — Grafted plants have rare and important qualities to enhance your production and increase your income. Learn how tomato and cucurbit growers can reap practical benefits from new grafting research by selling and/or using grafted plants. A researcher with practical production experience will explain the best uses for producing and using grafted plants and discuss marketing tips. He will also demonstrate the dos and don’ts of vegetable grafting. Matthew Kleinhenz, The Ohio State University (OH)

Farming in Color: The History of Race and Agriculture in the South This session will give an overview of the difficult history of race and racism in U.S. agriculture. Drawing on her studies around the intersection of agriculture/food, racial identity and religion, Priscilla McCutcheon will discuss how institutional and individual racism impact the ability of those who suffer discrimination to prosper off of the land. She will also present examples of how many groups of farmers have not only mobilized to fight back against racism, but used food to build collective economic wealth in communities of color. Priscilla McCutcheon, Univ. of Louisville (KY)


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

Come experience a rousing welcome to the 27th annual Southern SAWG gathering. Together, we are building our collective dream of a food and agricultural system that is life-giving, sustainable and just. With all of the trauma that our friends and neighbors have suffered in the past year, we now need each other more than ever. So join other conference participants as we get re-inspired and re-energized by the story of one of our veteran farmers, Mark Cain. 

Mark Cain

Mark Cain

Building a Dream
Mark Cain, Dripping Springs Garden (AR)

Mark Cain and his partner Michael Crane have been farming at Dripping Springs Garden in the Ozark mountains of northwest Arkansas since 1984. Mark's early inspirations for the farm came from meeting English gardening guru Alan Chadwick and natural-farming advocate Masanobu Fukuoka, and his eventual apprenticeship at the Farm and Garden Project of UCSC. Armed with a passionate love of gardening and nature, Mark and Mike began to plant the seeds of their dream in 1984, on an abandoned blueberry farm near a clear Ozark mountain stream. Slowly over the years, a thriving, intensively cropped, four-acre market garden has evolved, producing organic vegetables, fruit, and cut flowers to the nearby local markets in Fayetteville. Now Dripping Springs Garden produces crops 12 months of the year, using six high tunnels in addition to their propagation greenhouse; and each season the garden is host to 4-6 summer interns who live and work at the farm. Rather than expand production, Mark has chosen to intensify and diversify, including personally… making it a point to include activities like yoga, music, and meditation in daily farm life. The dream continues to evolve this winter with the construction of a guest/intern/retreat facility, so that more people can experience this lifestyle embedded in nature and agriculture. Join us for this plenary session as Mark shares the story of building a dream, making a living, and making a life.


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

Native Beneficial Insects for Pest Control — Get to know some of the common beneficial predatory and parasitoid insects that help control pests on your farm, along with the plantings and practices that help them thrive. Learn about the key components for healthy biodiversity on your farm including nectar, pollen, protection from pesticides, and shelter for nesting that will help keep insect populations in balance. Nancy Adamson, NRCS (NC)

Unlocking the Mysteries of Biodynamic Preparation Learn how to let microbes do farm work for you. A biodynamic farmer with 30 years of experience will discuss how he makes and uses the biodynamic preparations to give his farm more life energy. He’ll unlock the mysteries of horn manure and horn silica, and provide samples for participants to take home and try. Will include an extensive Q&A about using biodynamic methods for raising horticultural crops and cattle. Jeff Poppen, Long Hungry Creek Farm, (TN)

Farming in the City Where “Less is More” Rochelle King started the Garden Spot in the suburbs of Oklahoma City 11 years ago growing for her family and community. Today she is a certified organic grower managing seven acres and has expanded her marketing to Whole Foods and Natural Grocers. She’ll discuss the challenges and opportunities of growing in a suburban landscape — from choosing crops to maximizing production — all while working a 32-hour off-farm job. Rochelle King, The Garden Spot (OK)

Saving Your Small Ruminants Internal parasites (gut worms) are often the number one health issue on farms with goats and sheep, especially in the Southeast. Sustainable, practical methods to control these killers are needed, especially with the growing immunity of the worms to deworming drugs. This session will discuss the main parasite killer of small ruminant animals, other parasites that can decrease your profits, and how to tell if an animal needs to be dewormed. We’ll include farmer-proven concepts to control/avoid parasites including several animal and pasture management ideas, suggestions of alternative or natural products that work, and deworming supportive therapy. Niki Whitley, Fort Valley State University (GA)

Tools of the Trade: Proper Selection, Use and Care of Handheld Farm Tools — Why are there so many styles of hoes? How do you tell a good tool from a bad one? Joel Dufour, Kentucky farmer and distributor of high-quality farming tools, will share tips from a lifetime of experience. Learn how to select the right tool for both your body type and for the job at hand. Hear how to increase their performance and extend the life of your farming tools through proper maintenance. Joel Dufour, Earth Tools (KY)

Reaching for Profits: Using Benchmarks to Make Adjustments — What are the benchmarks you look at to measure success on the farm? How do you assess the overall market and gauge what your peers are doing — whether it’s at the farmers’ market, on their farm stand, or in their marketing materials? We don't farm in a vacuum — competition for markets, for price, and for labor is fierce. In order to make a profit, it pays to learn from other’s examples. Ellen Polishuk will share strategies for assessing and refining your systems. Ellen Polishuk, farm consultant (MD)

Women Doing The Work: Breaking the “Grass Ceiling” Learn about the integral roles women have in food and farming in the South — they tend crops, manage the books, and sell livestock and produce while often maintaining the household and caring for the family. Gain insight into the challenges and successes of three women as they share their on and off farm experiences in this lively, conversational panel. Amanda Edwards, EAT South/River Oaks Farm (AL), Portia Fulford, Organpi Farms & Farmhouse (AL), Lydia Villanueva, CASA de Llano (TX), and Natilee McGruder, EAT South (AL)

Policy in Motion: Influencing the Legislative Process Legislation written without input from the community it is supposed to serve can have unintended consequences. Two activists share their experiences influencing the legislative process on matters that would have severely affected their communities. Learn the challenges associated with drafting, introducing, or blocking potentially harmful food and farming legislation. Rita Scott, Oklahoma Farm and Food Alliance (OK), and Lindsey Lusher Shute, The Young Farmers Coalition (NY)


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

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

Show your support for local restaurants and Chew Chattanooga. Dine at two of the featured restaurants while at the conference, get your card stamped, and you could win a free registration to our 2019 SSAWG conference!


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

Using Mycorrhizae to Improve Soil Fertility and Plant Health — Understanding the relationships between fungi and plants can improve your yields and create an additional low-tech method for protein production. Create perennial microbial systems that will continue to stream nitrogen and phosphorous directly into your root systems while protecting them from soil-borne pathogens. Learn how to apply and maintain these healthy microbes to greatly improve your fields or hydroponic operation. This session will include information on soil, seedling and liquid mycorrhizal inoculants. Tradd Cotter, Mushroom Mountain (SC)

Succession Planting and Crop Rotations for Consistent Supply Succession planting and crop rotations can be one of your most important tools for maximizing yields. Home Sweet Farm has been managing the right mix for their 350-plus CSA since 2004 and will share their insight and experiences on creating planting plans, choosing the right varieties, companion planting, and record keeping. Brad and Jenny will share actual production examples from their operation and explain how you can develop a detailed plan to schedule and manage production for greater growth potential. Brad and Jenny Stufflebeam, Home Sweet Farm (TX)

Understanding and Creating Value From Your Woodlands — Do you know the value of the woods on your farm? This session will introduce you to your woodlands and raise your awareness of what they might offer. Learn what you have — tree species, wildlife habitat — and how to identify what you want from your woods as well as what you can sell. From wood products, firewood, wild crafted mushrooms, cultivated leeks, honeybees, and hunting leases, hear the opportunities and challenges with each. Included will be available cost-share programs and other technical assistance programs to help you meet your goals. Tamara Walkingstick, University of Arkansas (AR)

Our Story: Managing Multiple Livestock Operations Multi-Generationally — Country Gardens Farm direct markets a diversity of products from grassfed beef to raw milk, pastured eggs to honey all alongside their vegetables and blueberries. Come hear how two generations of Cunninghams rotationally graze and manage their beef, dairy and chickens across multiple locations of family and rented land. They’ll also discuss marketing through their CSA farm stand and one Atlanta farmers market. Mike and Joseph Cunningham, Country Gardens Farm (GA)

Legal Issues for Beginning Small Farmers For the new farmer, a good understanding of legal issues can relieve needless anxiety while your operation gets going and growing. Get an overview of leases, contracts, and entity formation (e.g. LLCs) from practicing attorneys who work with new farmers. Gain a better understanding of important land acquisition topics, such as financing, land use restrictions and property taxes. Bring your questions and they will try to answer them. Andrew Branan and Chloe Johnson, Branan Law Firm, PLLC (NC)

Grow More, Sell More, and Make Even More Clif Slade has a keen eye for opportunities to make every square foot of your farm more productive. Reap the benefits of his tested “43,560 Initiative” that focuses on simple field math, new market opportunities, and balancing inputs to yield the greatest returns for your farm. Learn how smarter marketing tactics and new opportunities for in-demand crops can help maximize your margin and help you sell all that you grow. Clif Slade, Slade Farms (VA)

Increasing Success in New Farmer Training — Are you interested in helping new farmers build strong businesses? Do you have a farmer-training program you want to take to the next level? Learn the keys to success in helping farmers launch new businesses from two members of an established farmer-training network — Farm Beginnings®. They will share the stages of development for beginning farmers, how to lay the groundwork for a successful beginning farmer training program, and how to further develop a program that has already seen success. Cameron Farlow, Organic Growers School (NC), and Sheri Doyel, Angelic Organics Learning Center (IL)

Funding Fundamentals: Tools for Increasing Organizational Capacity — Every year traditional funding sources are increasingly competitive and funders’ expectations are more demanding. Join a consultant who has extensive experience in the sustainable food and farming movement for an exploration of the key elements to evaluating your current process, streamlining your funding plans, and exploring strategies for diversifying your funding streams. Participants will walk through actual scenarios, work through a hands-on activity and have an opportunity for Q&A. Nikki Seibert Kelley, Wit Meets Grit (SC)


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

How Can Organic Growers Cover the Soil? — Bryan Hager uses a combination of mulching practices on his highly diverse fruit and vegetable farm in the Piedmont region of Georgia. Join us for an exploration of where and why he uses living mulches, straw, leaves, plastic film, paper, and landscape fabric. Annette Wszelaki will share what researchers at the University of Tennessee have learned about biodegradable plastics. She will explain what these mulches are made of as well as tips for better usage. Bryan Hager, Crager-Hager Farm (GA) and Annette Wszelaki, University of Tennessee (TN)

Scaling Up Compost for Your Farm: Should You Buy it or Make it? Compost provides a perfect source of food for your living soil and can be a cash crop for your farm. But whether you purchase compost or make your own, it also comes with a lot of questions — varying in quality, cost and value. Brian Rosa, who has provided organic waste solutions and composting consultancy since 1990 will describe the tools and techniques needed to produce large volumes of quality compost. He will also talk about the criteria for evaluating your own compost and what to consider when purchasing compost for your farm. Note: price should be the least of your concerns! Bryan Rosa, BE New Organic World (NC)

Cut Flower Production in High Tunnels Without a doubt, cut flowers have the potential to be the highest return per square foot on your high tunnel investment — if you have the market. In this session we will discuss species selection and crop scheduling for year-round cut flower production in the high tunnel environment: snapdragons, lisianthus, celosias, anemones, ranunculus, sunflowers, lilies, and more. Plenty of colorful photos of Dripping Springs Garden hoophouse flower production will provide the backdrop for an in-depth discussion of production and marketing techniques. Mark Cain, Dripping Springs Gardens Farm (AR)

Getting Started in Meat Goats Hear how this Mississippi producer retired into farming and in seven years has grown from seven to 50 does that he is direct marketing off 25 acres. He'll explain how caring for the land is essential to caring for your goats, and share tips on fencing, watering facilities, heavy use protection areas, and NRCS conservation programs that can enhance your farm. Hear how he markets his meat goats live to consumers without much need for marketing. A small ruminant specialist will also discuss the research and sustainability behind his practices and give further tips for raising healthy goats. Brad Spencer, BJ3 Goat Farm (MS) and Niki Whitley, Fort Valley State University (GA)

Keeping Your Farm Viable Into the Next Decade and Beyond — Hear clear examples from established farmers on lessons learned beyond the first decade of farming. How does a farm reassess their operations, analyze their numbers, pick their markets, and cope with changing scale after the first decade of operations. Learn from established farmers who have stewarded their farms through this changing landscape. Hana Newcomb, Potomac Vegetable Farm (VA) and Stefan Hartmann, Black River Organic Farm (NC)

Making Money on Your Farm Experience — A growing number of people in your community want to engage with family farms in new ways. Learn about the potential to bring in new farm revenue by offering events, tours and community engagement opportunities. An Eastern NC farmer will share lessons learned from his extensive experience with agritourism along with tips on how to protect assets from related liability. Russ Vollmer, Vollmer Farm (NC)

Mobilizing Resources for Rural Economic Development — How can you help make connections between underutilized resources to benefit the farmers in your area? Hear how one group is building partnerships to connect farmers and consumers across a rural region in central Louisiana. Learn strategies to attract interest and investment in your rural community, to change policy and improve health, for long-term gains and positive outcomes. John Dean, Bahia Nightengale and Allison Tohme, Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (LA)

Immigration Policy and Food System Security Approximately 60 percent of farmers are undocumented immigrants. The lack of protection for these farm workers has negatively impacted family farmers across our region. Legislation to support their ability to work without fear of deportation has been proposed but met with opposition in Congress. Come prepared for an interactive discussion with our presenters as they share their stories on immigration policy and its effect on the agricultural community. Tirso Moreno and Ivan Vasquez, Farm Workers Association of Florida (FL), and Iris Figueroa, Farmworker Justice (DC)


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, 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Managing Organic No-Till Production for Soil Health Learn about organic no-till management tactics for cover crops, nutrients, and weeds. Two practitioners with extensive no-till experience will present techniques they have used to establish plants, deal with weeds and get marketable crops in an organic no-till system. They’ll also discuss some success stories and identify potential pitfalls. Patryk Battle, Living Web Farms (NC) and Mark Dempsey, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (NC)

Beginning Organic High Tunnel Production New to high tunnels? Jennifer and Ron from Lola's Organic Farm will discuss what you need to consider in constructing, building and managing soil conditions, and maintaining proper ventilation in your first high tunnel. Learn how they take advantage of season extension, climate controlled conditions, and pest and wildlife protection to maximize profits from high value crops like turmeric and ginger. As NRCS recipients of two 32'x74' high tunnels, hear their experiences of how you to might benefit from this program. Jennifer Taylor and Ron Gilmore, Lola’s Organic Farm (GA)

Peppers: Seed to Market From sweet to hot, peppers are now the fifth most consumed fresh vegetable in the U.S. Join Alex Hitt as he takes you through his process of pepper production from seed to market, providing advice on soil preparation, transplanting, trellising, pest and disease management, and harvest. With over two decades of experience in pepper production and marketing, he’ll also give tips on what types and varieties to grow for your market. Alex Hitt, Peregrine Farm (NC)

Alternative Feed Grains for Livestock Are you looking for alternative feed grains to corn and soy? A nutrition expert will compare the nutritional values of alternative grains and protein sources to corn and soy. He will cover the limitations of feeding each grain, why these grains are limited and how to correct for the limitations. The presentation will also include some information on the nutritional content and best uses of sprouts. Jeff Mattocks, The Fertrell Company (PA)

Movement on the Farm: Keeping Your Body Healthy for a Long Farming Career Our bodies are our greatest farm asset. Train your body to be resilient to the stresses of farm work through proper movement, rest and nutrition. Jamie Davis recovered from injury with the help of a daily yoga practice and now uses the Alexander Technique — a form of deliberate movement — to resist further injury. Learn a holistic way of health and movement that’s specific to the needs of farm workers in this interactive session. Jamie Davis, A Way of Life Farm (NC)

Direct Marketing Strategies: Crafting Your Farm Story What makes your farm stand out? What is it about your farm that connects with consumers or buyers? No matter where you sell, communicating your farm story is critical for success in local markets and for tapping into consumer demand for authenticity. Learn more about key components to include in your story and work with facilitator to begin crafting or to further hone your own farm story. Molly Nicholie, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (NC)

Dirty Hands and Open Minds, Farm Programs at Small Colleges Farm programs at schools that have no agricultural degree track can have a deep impact on student experiences. Join the farm managers from Oxford College of Emory University and Sewanee, The University of the South, as they discuss the challenges and opportunities of procuring resources, dealing with a broad range of student backgrounds, fostering curriculum integration and balancing production with an educational mission. This session will cover the management of an existing farm as well as the start-up scenario of a new farm. It will also include time for discussion from participants to learn from a broad range of experiences. Daniel Parson, Oxford College Organic Farm (GA), and Carolyn Hoagland, Sewanee University of the South (TN)

It’s Farm Bill Time It is officially Farm Bill season! Join Southern SAWG’s Policy Collaborative Action Network (PCAN), along with two people active in the farm bill process for a discussion on what to expect in the upcoming Farm Bill. We’ll include a recap of action since last year’s listening session and the popular Farm Bill webinar series. Judith McGeary, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (TX), Kanika Gandhi, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (DC), and Gabraelle Lane, Southern SAWG (GA)


Concurrent General Conference Sessions
Saturday, 9:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Integrated Pest and Disease Prevention in Summer Crops — Squash and tomatoes are susceptible to multiple diseases and pests that can eat into your profits. Learn how to lessen the damage on your summer crops through ecologically-based integrated approaches that disrupt pest and pathogen life cycles, and improve plant health. This session will highlight how to identify and manage common disease and pest problems that thrive in the warm humid southern summers. Return to your farm with strategies gleaned from UGA field trials and work with organic growers; including variety selection, row covers, trap-cropping and cultural manipulations. Elizabeth Little, University of Georgia (GA)

Managing Organic Matter on a 25 Year Tillage Intensive Vegetable Operation In more than 25 years of farming, Ellen Polishuk tried numerous practices in order to build and maintain organic matter in her soil. She’ll share her successful experiments and mistakes, while discussing what has worked in the past, what has changed, and what lies ahead. This session will address tillage, cover cropping, green manures, weed management and crop rotation, and how they interact in reaping both yield and profit from the farm. Ellen Polishuk, farm consultant (MD)

Small Scale Organic Grain Production Diverse small grains have a long history of production in the South. Sorghum, wheat, oats, barley, rye, buckwheat, corn and rice can be grown organically and processed on-farm into a variety of value-added products for sale to consumers, breweries and bakeries. You can also offset the cost of livestock feed with custom grain mixes. This session will cover variety selection, equipment purchase, processing, value added products and sales. Meagan Roberts, Western Piedmont Community College (NC)

Is Animal Welfare Approved Right for Your Farm? — Discover the marketing, labeling, and technical service benefits of Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) certification straight from a certified farmer of both pork and poultry. Hear about a variety of AWA program resources (farm plans and record-keeping templates, Farm Health Online, technical resources and more) that can help you improve your own pasture-based livestock management practices while promoting animal health. And learn what it takes to become AWA third-party certified through A Greener World (AGW) in addition to AGW Certified Grassfed and AGW Certified Non-GMO. Jeremiah Jones, Grassroots Pork Co. and The NC Natural Hog Growers Association (NC) and Emily Moose, A Greener World (NC)

farmOS: A Free Tool to Capture Critical Farm Data Get a hands-on introduction to farmOS, the open source community-maintained farm record keeping system. Learn how to map your farm, record your daily activities and observations, and manage your plantings, animals, and equipment. You’ll gain insight into farm trends that you can act on to boost production and profitability. Bring your laptop to this session, and you’ll leave with a functional, mobile-ready record keeping system. Michael Stenta, farmOS (CT)

Building a Resilient Rural Market to Support Local Farms — Take action to make your rural community stronger — and more resilient — by spurring cultural change and economic growth through your farm leadership. Learn how one farm has positioned itself as the cultural, social, and culinary hub of their small Texas community. Hear how they’ve developed a broad base of support that has helped them weather economic fluctuations and the most extreme events — even helping them rebound from catastrophe. Brad and Jenny Stufflebeam, Home Sweet Farm (TX)

Finding Organic Research You Can Use What is the latest organic research, where is it happening, and how can you put it to work on your own farm? This session will address these questions and connect growers with outcomes of cutting-edge organic research. Streamline your search for science-based practical information and tools developed on the federal to local levels, in private institutions and universities, on topics ranging from growing practices to soil health and market analysis. Learn how farmers can influence or participate in the research process. Diana Jerkins, Organic Farming Research Foundation (VA), and Mark Schonbeck, farm consultant (VA)

Working with Youth: Is Your Arrangement Just? A courageous conversation about issues of race and equity in our food and farming systems. How can programs that work with youth be inclusive of people of color and empower young people instead of exploit them? Staff from two programs will discuss how they are grappling with these issues and lead an honest conversation around challenges and solutions. Mohamed Jalloh, Jones Valley Teaching Farm (AL), and Asia-Vinae Palmer and Sean Winford, Grow Dat Youth Farm (LA)


Saturday 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Hope for the Next Generation of Farmers
Davon Goodwin, OTL Farms (NC) and Lindsey Lusher Shute, National Young Farmers Coalition (NY)

Davon Goodwin

Davon Goodwin

Join us for a challenging and inspirational session on how to create a viable future for the next generation of farmers. Davon Goodwin, a first-generation farmer and National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) board member, will talk about his hope for the future and how NFYC is supporting him in his farming dreams. Lindsey Lusher Shute, the Executive Director of NYFC, will share her vision of hope for the next generation of farmers and discuss NYFC programs that help make that vision become reality. Then she will engage us more deeply in what it will take for the South to create an environment that nurtures and supports the future of young farmers like Davon.

After serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Davon Goodwin returned to the U.S. injured in 2010. He had lost his sense of purpose and found it difficult to get started in a professional career — until he found farming. With the support of helpful landowners and organizations like NYFC, he was able to start OTL (Off The Land) Farms in North Carolina where he raises muscadine grapes, along with pastured poultry, pigs, goats and sheep. Farming returned hope and joy to Davon’s life, and more importantly, allowed him to continue serving his country as a steward of the land and local community, combating hunger with good food. Davon is now helping other young farmers by serving on the NYFC board.

Lindsey Lusher Shute

Lindsey Lusher Shute

An Ohio native, Lindsey Lusher Shute first developed her love of farming on her grandfather’s land in the rolling hills of Appalachia. Lindsey and her husband now own Hearty Roots Farm, a 900-member CSA in the Hudson Valley of New York. As Executive Director of the NYFC, she has grown the organization from a few volunteer farmers to a nationwide network with 36 chapters in 26 states and a grassroots base of over 120,000 supporters. Lindsey has edited and authored ten reports for NYFC, including the 2017 National Young Farmers Survey, which outlines the challenges being faced by young farmers and a strategy to help them succeed. She was recognized as a “Champion of Change” by President Barack Obama and was recently named among “20 Food Leaders Under 40” by Food Tank.


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

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

Show your support for local restaurants and Chew Chattanooga. Dine at two of the featured restaurants while at the conference, get your card stamped, and you could win a free registration to our 2019 SSAWG conference!


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

Making the Most of Soil Inputs on Small Scale Acreage Jenny Jack Sun Farms is a one and a half acre veggie-fruit farm in West Georgia feeding a 120-member CSA, two markets, and a few restaurants all within 30 miles of the farm. They will share their devout use of off-farm soil amendments to feed plant production in an intensive small-scale system, while also discussing cover crop and compost additions. This session will highlight basic, practical, soil-enhancing tips from their 12-year experience with growing food in Southern soil. A soil consultant will also discuss the science behind their practices and give further tips for using soil inputs effectively. Jenny and Chris Jackson, Jenny Jack Sun Farms (GA) and Mark Schonbeck, farm consultant (VA)

High Tunnel Cropping for Maximum Return — Now that you have high tunnels on your farm, how do you use them effectively? Learn from an experienced grower who produces multiple crops of vegetables and cut flowers in six high tunnels for 12 months of the year. We will discuss how to choose crops that are most productive and profitable; winter crop selection and scheduling; summer season crop selection and scheduling; management tips for weed control, maintaining fertility, and more. Mark Cain, Dripping Springs Garden (AR)

Growing and Marketing Mushrooms — Understand the best ways to cultivate mushrooms on your farm. You’ll learn about inexpensive start-up options for beginners, and many commercial ideas to expand on. Topics will include: life cycle of fungi; mushroom behavior and intuitive growing; choosing, buying, and storing spawn; woodland mushroom farming (logs, wood chips, and composts); indoor production (small and large scale); converting existing structures into grow rooms (barns, chicken houses, storage containers); marketing your mushrooms (trends, demand, strategies); organic pest management; and alternative product development (powders, extracts, composts). Tradd Cotter, Mushroom Mountain (SC)

Our Story: A Supportive Meat Processor in Our Midst In 2008, Joe Cloud purchased a small abattoir in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and turned it into one of the few remaining USDA-inspected ‘certified humane’ slaughterhouses in the South. He now processes beef, lamb and pork for over 80 producers who direct market their own branded meats. He’ll share his story, explain how he maintains quality control, and discuss key practices for processors and farmers to work well together. Joe Cloud, T&E Meats (VA)

Essential Tools and Machinery for Small Farms and Market Growers  Having the right tools at the right time can make a big difference for the market grower. Join two veteran farmers as they discuss the most critical tools to their operation — from motorized, walk-behind tractors and tractor implements to hand tools that save time and effort. Learn how to piece together a collection of tools and machinery for a variety of horticultural crops on a small farm budget. Get tips on how to purchase, modify or create tools to make your work easier and more productive. Equipment highlighted will range from tillage, planting, and weed control to harvest and post-harvest handling. Bryan Hager, Crager-Hager Farm (GA), and Josh Hardin, Laughing Stock Farm (AR)

Basic Business Tools for Busy Farmers — You know that you need to get a better understanding of your farm’s finances. This session will show you basic tools for gathering financial information, what records you need and why, and how to make better business decisions based on your data and not your intuition. We’ll show you one-page tools for business plans, financial plans, risk management plans and cost benefit calculations, and point you to other resources for further learning. This will give you a start on developing your own business management system. Gary Matteson, Farm Credit Council (DC)

Agroecology as a Farmer Extension and Education Tool — Learn how agroecology, with its ancestral roots, functions as a practice, process and social movement that increases food production, cools the planet, and redistributes power to ‘the people’ who feed the world. The Campesino-a-Campesino (farmer-to-farmer) model, successfully implemented in Cuba, offers profound lessons for sparking ecological, behavioral and political change in farming communities worldwide. The Black Dirt Farm Collective (BDFC) and the Southeastern African American Farmers Organic Network (SAAFON) will share their experiences using these models to mobilize farmers in research, information exchange and community development. Blain Snipstal and Shakira Tyler, Black Dirt Farm Collective (MD) and Southeastern African American Farmers’ Organic Network (MD)

Mobilizing to Action to Influence Policy — How and when should you get involved in grassroots organizing? When is it most effective to contact your elected officials? What other actions can you take to influence policy? Join a robust discussion with policy experts and members of Southern SAWG’s Policy Collaborative Action Network (PCAN) to discuss the best ways to get involved in grassroots advocacy and why it matters during the midterm elections. Scott Marlow, RAFI-USA (NC), Judith McGeary, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (TX), Kanika Gandhi, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (DC) and Gabraelle Lane, Southern SAWG (GA)

Information Exchange: Crowdsourcing Knowledge
Saturday, 3:45 p.m. – 5:15 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 among 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 are you accessing 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, and discuss your unique challenges. Learn from each other and continue to build networks.

People of Color in Sustainable Agriculture Join in a discussion about how People of Color can best position ourselves to succeed in the sustainable food and agriculture movement. Continue the conversation on needs identified at the 2017 People of Color session where we will engage on barriers and solutions for people of color related to land access, funding and finance, marketing, and racial equity. Share your insights, concerns, and ideas for making the local food movement more inclusive for all.

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 meeting those goals? How do you stay focused on student success while managing a working farm?

Linking Farmers to Farmland Many states have devices for connecting farm land owners with land seekers. Is it working in your state? Come share best practices for how we can reduce the barrier of land access to get new farmers started and help existing farmers expand.

Managing Farmers Markets — Share your experiences with fellow market 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.

Institutional Programs Networking Across the South to Grow and Sustain Farms — Learn about a USDA SERA-47 group that is building a learning community around growing and sustaining farms and farmers in the Southern Region, coordinated by Leslie Hossfeld, Mississippi State University. Participants will have an opportunity to provide input on what is needed from both the farmer side and the Research and Extension outreach side, and learn how to be involved.

Pastured Poultry Production Compare poultry production practices with others, and share your solutions, tips and innovations. What are your biggest challenges — 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!

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

Smart Tool Innovations Share your favorite e-tools, smart phone apps, computer programs and other innovations that make your life easier. Swap ideas and share your favorite blogs, forums, and other resources for smart apps and e-tool tips and innovations.

Organic Farming Research Network with other researchers and farmers doing sustainable and organic research. Talk about the work you do, challenges you face, your research approaches, and how you make your information available and practical for 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?

Disaster Response: Helping Farmers Recover — Join a conversation with Farm Aid on creative and collaborative practices that help farmers navigate through disasters, from emergency through recovery phases. From Texas to Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands — discuss lessons learned and talk about what we can do together to maximize response effectiveness.


Closing Mixer
Saturday, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

We’ll have live music and a cash bar, plus we will conclude our Chew Chattanooga scavenger hunt with the drawing for a free 2019 conference registration! Hang out with your friends and make new connections before returning home for the season. Take time to relax and enjoy the company of so many people doing so many wonderful things around our region.

There will be no banquet dinner this year. We hope to support more local farms and the businesses buying from them through our Chew Chattanooga local food scavenger hunt.