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Winter Conference Highlights for 2012

Added January 19, 2012. Conference season is upon us; a time to reflect on 2011, plan for 2012 and beyond, and gather with like-minded people. It is a time to read, learn, share, teach, connect with friends and make new acquaintances. If you visit our Calendar page, you will see that there are many, many conferences and workshops coming up. Below are a few winter conference highlights taking place in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and Vermont in greater detail.

Soil and Nutrition: An Education and Coalition-Building Conference
February 9-11, 2012 in Northampton, Massachusetts

Featuring leading thinkers and practitioners of building healthy soils, this conference aims to grow the movement for enhancing soil fertility as a basis for the long-term ecological and economic sustainability of farming, the environment, and our society as a whole. Each of the three days is organized with a different format.

Thursday, February 9: Seminar with John Kempf, National and international speaker on soil fertility, farmer consultant, and proprietor of Advancing Eco-Agriculture.

John speaks in clear practical language about scientific understandings of plant eco-systems and how the health of people is connected to healthy land and quality produce. He will explain three stages of plant health, and how by reaching each stage we can grow plants that are not only nutritious, but resistant to soil-borne and airborne fungal disease and insect damage.

Friday, February 10: Collaborative Symposium with Regional Experts on Managing Soils for Quality.

Presenters include:

  • Derek Christianson, CSA farmer, Brix Bounty Farm in Darmouth, MA
  • Dan Holmes, diversified livestock farmer enhancing pasture fertility, Peterborough, NH
  • Dan Kittredge, director, Bionutrient Food Association, North Brookfield, MA
  • Jack Lazor, organic dairy farmer and producer of Butterworks Yogurt in Westfield, VT
  • Bryan O'Hara, soil building pioneer on his vegetable growing operation in Lebannon, CT
  • Julie Rawson, Many Hands Organic Farm, Barre, MA - mixed livestock, poultry, vegetables and fruit
  • Stephen Storch, biodynamic grower on Long Island, NY

Saturday, February 11: Strategic Action Working Conference.

Participants will discuss building on the knowledge of building healthy soils to affect the broader world. Work groups will be formed to take action on:

  • Defining research priorities that serve the needs of growers.
  • Broadening public understanding of soil health and crop quality.
  • Linking an understanding of soil health with institutions charged with caring for human health.

For more information, contact: Ben Grosscup, ben.grosscup@nofamass.org, 413-658-5374.

Vermont Organic Dairy Conference
February 21, 2012, in Randolph Center, VT

Organic dairy farmers will learn about successful calf-raising strategies, grazing innovations, and the latest organic dairy research at this day-long conference.

Farmer Jon Bansen will give the conference keynote address. Jon is a seasoned organic dairy farmer from Oregon who has honed his management intensive grazing strategies on his 200-head Jersey farm. He will share his experiences with extending the grazing season and managing under dry and wet grazing conditions. Another feature of the conference will be a panel of Vermont dairy farmers--led by NOFA-Vermont's Willie Gibson--who will discuss their strategies, tips, and tricks on successfully raising organic calves.

The conference will also focus on innovative research results. Vermont and the Northeast have a long tradition of leading the nation with cutting edge research conducted by researchers who understand farmer needs. This year, we will hear from some of those researchers who include Andre Brito, Heather Darby, John Barlow, Jennifer Colby, and Jana Kraft. They will share the results of their research on feed supplementation on organic dairy farms, pasture compaction and aeration strategies, mastitis management, and analyses of fatty acids (Omega-3 and CLAs) in forage and their influence on milk quality and on-farm greenhouse.

The brochure and online registration information is available at: www.uvm.edu/extension/organicdairy. You may also register by mail by sending a check ($20, includes lunch), made payable to University of Vermont Extension, to Organic Dairy Conference, UVM Extension, 278 South Main St., Ste. 2, St. Albans, VT 05478.

Moses Organic Farming Conference's Organic University
February 23-25, 2012 in Lacrosse, Wisconsin

The Organic Farming Conference is celebrated as the foremost educational and networking event in the organic farming community, with over 65 informative workshops, 160 exhibitors, locally-sourced organic food, live entertainment and inspirational keynote speakers. The OFC also offers Organic University; a pre-conference day on February 23rd.

At Organic University (OU) farmers, academics, and other experts come together to provide over six hours of background information and practical applications. Each class comes with a resource book with course instruction materials and additional information for further learning. Below are some 2012 topics that might interest NODPA's readers.

  1. Advanced Crop Agronomics
    Join Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens of Lakeview Organic Grain, and Dave Campbell of Lily Lake Farm, for a detailed look at advanced agronomic techniques and strategies for producing high-quality grains year after year. Learn how to combine soil fertility, tillage, weed control, cover crops, crop rotations, harvest, and storage into an efficient system that will help your farm succeed.
  2. Livestock Health Care Management
    Join Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture's Susan Beal and Organic Valley staff veterinarian Paul Dettloff for this comprehensive exploration of homeopathy, tinctures, and herbal remedies as part of a holistic approach to livestock health care that combines husbandry and prevention with careful observation and proven treatment practices.
  3. Balancing Soil Fertility for Top Quality and Yields
    Both top yields and top quality are needed and possible in organic food and feed production. In organic farming, higher yields indicate higher, not lower, nutritional value. When one or the other is missing, so are the nutrients for providing the best nutrition. The goal of organic production should be to obtain high quality crops from good healthy plants that provide more than enough return to pay for the time and effort needed to stay in business. Join renowned soils expert and writer Neal Kinsey as he shares his knowledge of balancing soil fertility.
  4. Overcoming Your Fear of Farm Financials
    Your financial recordkeeping and decision-making system might be the most important tool on your farm. Join the Wisconsin Farm Center's Paul Dietmann and Iowa State University Extension's Craig Chase for a journey through the exciting world of number organization and analysis. Using real life scenarios, this course will provide the tools you need to successfully and painlessly manage the finances of your own operation. The newly-published MOSES book, Fearless Farm Finances will be provided to each attendee of this course.
  5. Quality Forage Production for Dairy and Beef
    With organic grain prices at an all-time high – and no relief in sight – it makes sense for every organic cattle producer to maximize their return on pasture and forage crops. Join Midwestern Bio-Ag soils and dairy consultant Bob Yanda and organic dairy farmer Gerry Klinkner as they discuss fertilizers and management strategies to increase the yield and nutritional quality of forages and pastures to achieve an improved bottom line.

For more information: 715-778-5775.