Practical Farmers’ 2014 conference offers something for everyone Jan. 24-25Preregister by Wednesday for reduced rate
AMES — The Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2014 annual conference, “Well Grounded,” takes place Jan. 24-25 at the Iowa State Center Scheman Building on the Iowa State University campus in Ames.
Walk-in registrants are welcome, but those who preregister by Wednesday will pay a reduced fee and be guaranteed space to the “All-Iowa” lunch Jan. 25, a conference tradition featuring food from PFI member farms.
Register online at www.practicalfarmers.org/events/annual-conference.html or contact Erica Andorf at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515- 232-5661. Special rates are available for students and Practical Farmers members who preregister by Wednesday. After that, rates increase by $10 per day for everyone except students.
This year’s event, which extends last year’s focus on sustaining soil health with a spotlight on cover crops and extended rotations, offers something for everyone, from farmers and local food enthusiasts to landowners and consumers who want to learn more about Iowa agriculture.
In addition to two full tracks each for row-crop and fruit and vegetable farmers, the conference will feature a myriad of sessions for all interested in food and farming – as well as a special keynote address by Ricardo Salvador, senior scientist and director of the Food & Environment Program at Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C.
In the keynote “True Wealth: How Iowa Can Once Again Revolutionize Agriculture,” Salvador will explore how knowledge gained from the first century of “modern agriculture” can inform the best approaches moving forward. Before UCS, Salvador worked first as an associate professor of agronomy at ISU, where he taught the first course in sustainable agriculture at a land-grant university, and then with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. He will deliver his keynote at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 24.
In “The Art of Fermentation,” which runs from 12:30-4:30 p.m. Jan. 24, food enthusiasts and health-conscious consumers can learn from fermentation master Sandor Katz about the healing qualities and nutritional importance of live-culture ferments, the integral role these foods have played in human cultural evolution and how simple it is to make kimchi, kefir and other fermented food products. Katz, a bestselling author, is one of the leading experts on fermented foods. His latest book, “The Art of Fermentation,” won a James Beard Award in 2012.
Farmer supporters, landowners and farmers alike who care about Iowa’s future can come together for lively dialogue and conversation on several issues that affect all Iowans:
• Join others in discussing how Iowa’s people and land can be wisely harnessed to build a better future in “True Wealth: Keynote Follow-Up,” a Jan. 25 session follow-up to Salvador’s keynote address.
• Learn about the issue of spray drift, share thoughts and discuss possible solutions in “Over the Fence: Discussing Spray Drift with Neighbors,” the morning of Jan. 25. An afternoon session will provide space to consider policy angles in “Policy to Protect People and Land from Pesticide Drift.”
• Concerned about high land prices or land access for the next generation of farmers? Take part in an informal discussion during breakfast Jan. 25 about one company’s novel approach to this issue in “Sustainable Farmland Investing with Iroquois Valley Farms.”
• Food entrepreneurs, small-business owners and farmers can benefit from “Raising Dough: Financing Your Farm Business.” In this session, learn from food finance expert Elizabeth Ü about the diverse financing options available to fund food-centered business or farm. Ü is author of “Raising Dough: The Complete Guide to Financing a Socially Responsible Food Business” and founder and executive director of Finance for Food.
• Landowners and farm families with transition questions also will find sessions planned for them. In “Estate Planning for the Farm: Case Studies and Considerations,” from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Jan. 25, learn about estate, gift tax and non-tax issues to consider when planning for the future of a farm or farmland. Later in the day, engage in a facilitated discussion with others in a session on “Non-Operator Landowners and our Changing Agriculture.”
• Have a unique farm story, a cause or a business to promote? Attend “Telling Your Farm Story to Make a Difference,” the morning of Jan. 25. Learn the basics of crafting a specific story, as well as tips on effective presentation techniques that move people to action.
In addition to these sessions, the conference will feature 20 other in-depth workshops spanning an array of topics in field crops, fruit and vegetable production, grazing and livestock, and conservation; 10 other breakfast sessions Jan. 25; and five other in-depth “U-Pick” sessions on topics selected this fall by Practical Farmers members.
Practical Farmers also is offering two preconference short courses – “Restoration Agriculture 101” and “Achieve the Triple Bottom Line with Holistic Management” – that run from 1-7 p.m. Jan. 23 and continue from 8-11:30 a.m. Jan. 24 at Oakwood Road Church, on the south side of Ames.
Both preconference courses cost $50 for Practical Farmers members, and $65 for nonmembers.
To access the full conference program, registration details or to register online, visit http://practicalfarmers.org/events/annual-conference.html.