Ag & Food Conference
A partnership between SEMAP and the Bristol County Conservation District.
Sunday, February 28th
About the Conference
Whether you’re a professional farmer, a backyard gardener, or just curious about locally grown food, this is the event for you! Each year, the lineup includes workshops for the general public as well as info-packed sessions for farmers and gardeners of all experience levels.
Registration includes a locally-sourced lunch and at the Resource Fair you’ll learn about local organizations and businesses that provide services and products to help you grow, whether you’ve got a hundred acres or a couple of window boxes.
Keynote Speaker: Ali Berlow
What does a healthy and resilent regional food system look and taste like? Who is included, who isn’t and why not? From the fields and farms to the ocean and the docks in our communities, region and beyond, how do we create access to fresh, healthy, fair, safe, just, and good food for all?
Join Ali Berlow for a lively presentation on how to effect positive change in the food system today and for future generations. Ali is the author of ‘The Food Activist Handbook’, co-host of WCAI’s Local Food Report, co-owner of Edible Vineyard magazine and former founding executive director of Island Grown Initiative.
For the Grower (Farmers, Gardeners, and Homesteaders):
Compost Analysis & Interpretation, Katie Campbell-Nelson
Compost users have many goals; sanitation, bioremediation, build soil organic matter, improve soil structure and moisture holding capacity, enhance soil microbial activity, or fertilize crops. There are agricultural, environmental, and regulatory reasons to get a compost analysis and interpret results for plant available nutrient content. So how is this done? Come to this workshop to learn how to submit a compost sample for analysis and learn how to calculate plant available nutrient content of your compost! Information provided will include tips for compliance with the new Plant Nutrient Application Regulations (330 CMR 31.00) in effect December 5th, 2015.
2015 Disease Update, Sue Scheufele
Overview of disease management principles focusing on impact of pathogen biology on disease spread and management, using the 2015 season as a guide. Get information on emerging diseases and dig deeper into perennial diseases like black rot in brassicas, and discuss major disease outbreaks of 2015 like bacterial diseases in tomato, viruses in cucurbits, and downy mildew on brassicas
Grow Weeds-For-Profit This Year! Stephan Brown
Plants are the world’s oldest medicine, and what we often call weeds are usually the BEST medicines! Stephan will teach the growing, harvesting, preparation, and marketing of weeds and how a farmer can actually PROFIT from it. He’s been earning a living from weeds for 26 years. You can too.
WPS Session, Taryn Lascola
The Worker Protection Standard is a federal rule from the 90’s for protecting workers in an Agricultural setting. This year EPA proposed changes to the rule and as of November the rule became final. This session will review the old and new WPS focusing on the significant changes that were made. Earn 1.5 Credits.
BMP’s and What to Expect During an Inspection, Taryn Lascola
This session will review what an inspector does when they go to a farm to conduct a routine pesticide inspection. I will review the different inspections and what the farm needs to do to be in compliance (Record keeping, Zone II, Sign Posting, Storage). I will also provide some tips and BMP’s that a farm can do to stay in compliance and be a good neighbor. Earn 1.5 Credits.
Exploring Chinese Broccoli & Multiple Branching Brassicas, Skip Paul
This talk will feature a discussion about Multiple Branching Brassicas, and the specific seasons they best suited for. First, we will explore the two main lines of Chinese Broccoli currently available and then, we will discuss other European Heirloom OP varieties and how they can fit into over~wintering scenarios and late fall production planning. It is suggested that the grower have a year or two of familiarity with growing Broccoli, because there will be an advanced discussions about nutrients and physical parameters to do specifically with growing all Broccoli cultivars.
Garden like a Farmer, Andy Tomolonis
Want to get more fresh food from your backyard garden? Use proven techniques employed by small-scale farmers to boost your harvest, improve the quality of your fresh vegetables and keep you organized throughout the growing year. Longtime organic gardener, part-time hobby farmer and popular gardening author Andy Tomolonis shares his advice on successive plantings; timing your backyard crops; stretching the growing season with raised beds and low tunnels; and using vertical gardening to increase your growing space. He stresses organic techniques, and draws his knowledge from the personal experience of running a small-scale community supported agriculture business from his one-acre suburban plot.
Growing Strawberries, Sonia Schloemann
This workshop will cover the basics of growing strawberries for small scale growers and home garden enthusiasts. Basic site and soil requirements, planting recommendations, variety selection, nutrient management and common insect and disease problems will be discussed and IPM recommendations for successful production will be covered. Sharing of audience experiences and questions will be encouraged. Earn 1.5 Credits.
The Pumpkin Patch, Todd Sandstrum
Learn the basics of starting a community or school giant pumpkin patch. Growing the big one is tricky, but it’s a great, social project to build community and school morale and turn education into a treat. Learn tips about the best site location and guidelines for pest and disease management. Even find out how to load a 300 plus pound gourd in to a truck and head off to the local weigh off.
Growing Sweet Potatoes, Stan Ingram
This workshop is geared for those who have never grown sweet potatoes before and for those who have, but may not have been that successful. Stan will cover basic cultivation, from getting your slips in the mail through getting your harvest out of the ground and cured. He will also touch on the varied uses of the crop and some ways to propagate your own planting material. And, of course, Stan will let you know all the lessons I have learned along the way.
Greenhouse 101, Will Traubel
Roundtable discussion on greenhouse construction. More details to come.
Revitalization of the Livestock Industry in Southern New England, SEMALA
The demand for locally grown and produced food is on the rise, and while New England farms are able to grow almost half of our vegetables, only a small percentage of the meat we use is produced locally. This workshop will focus on the efforts to rebuild the livestock industry in our region, through educational initiatives for established and beginning farmers, and through the creation of a new, USDA-inspected slaughterhouse and processing facility. A panel of local farmers will discuss different marketing strategies and how they have built successful and environmentally sustainable livestock businesses in our area.
Value-added Products for Livestock Farmers, Chef Chris Cronin
Chef Chris Cronin of Little Moss Restaurant in South Dartmouth is at the cutting edge of “whole animal cuisine” and is committed to sustainability and traceability. Chef Chris is a charcuterie master, and will be sharing his insights on snout to tail cuisine and the importance of value-added meat products in creating high value items at the same time as working towards zero waste in the kitchen.
How to Get Started in Raising Livestock, Desiree Robertson-Dubois and Elizabeth Frary
Whether you want to farm for a living or you want to raise a few animals in your backyard, starting a flock and/or herd can be daunting. Our panel of livestock farmers will help you get started with the basics, including what you will need for fencing, housing, breeding, feeding, and basic health care. The talk will focus on sheep, goats, and hogs.
Poultry Processing, Michael Darre
More details to come.
Farm Business Planning & Marketing:
Land Access and Leasing, Noelle Fogg & Kathy Ruhf
Access to land is a top challenge for farmers. This session will explore ways for farmers to find and get onto farmland. We’ll look at alternatives such as shared ownership, group farming, paths to ownership and various types of leases. If you are a farm seeker or a landowner considering making your land available for farming, you’ll come away with useful tools, innovative methods and great resources.
Basic Taxation Concepts for Farmers, Patrick Kirby and Max Gleblocki
The goal is to educate the farmer about some basic taxation concepts as well as make them generally aware of specific rules related to agricultural taxation. While these topics can be applicable to most businesses or individuals, it will be geared toward sole-proprietor farming operations.
From Roadside to Check Out: How to Draw Customers in and Keep Them Longer, Todd Sandstrum
Learn how to enhance your customer’s experience at your farm or market stand. Simple adjustments to flow patterns can make something either warm and inviting or have people heading for the exit. Make sure your business is sending the right message. Communicate with your customers,discover the products they are looking for and design your display and store layout to highlight those products to help increase sales. Using public media for better customer relations will also be covered.
Building a Strong Brand to Increase Sales and Build Customer Loyalty, Myrna Greenfield
Every farm has a unique story that can help them attract loyal customers. This interactive session will show you how to choose words and images that will make your website, social media, and other low-cost marketing tools more effective. Take home a handout to help you develop a powerful brand.
Am I Making Money Growing Green Beans… Umm Maybe? Enterprise Analysis For Improved Decision Making on Small Scale Vegetable Farms, Derek Christianson
Developing enterprise budgets on diversified vegetable farms may seem a daunting task. However, enterprise budgets are a great tool to inform your decision making… in the planning stages and in season. We’ll review basic templates for analysis, discuss strategies to make data collection quick and easy, and review a couple of real world enterprise budgets to highlight potential levers toward profitability.
For the Foodie:
Flatcakes Field to Griddle, Amy Halloran
Pancakes and crepes are great ways to test drive the revival of regional grain production. Learn the basics of griddles, batters, and flour and taste the flavors of fresh, stoneground whole-grains in savory and sweet flat cakes. As we work our way from field to griddle to plate, you’ll be introduced to my book, The New Bread Basket, and the pioneers who are growing and using wheat and other grains outside of the commodity system.
Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening, Peter Burke
Learn how to grow salad greens indoors year-round with no special equipment, no lights and no need for a big south facing windows. You can grow ALL the Slad Greens you need to feed yourself and your family with a kitchen cupboard and a windowsill The Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening workshop will focus on growing a steady supply of greens from soil-sprouts. Ready to harvest in just 7 to 10 days, these greens are exceptionally fresh and nutrient dense. Whether you live in an apartment or have a big homestead kitchen, you will learn how to grow the bulk of your salad greens. Everyone will plant a tray of greens to take home.
Daily Nutrition and Juice Practice, Nicole Cormier
Juicing is really popular right now, but should you be doing it? Is it for everyone? Individuals looking for an increase in energy, boost in immune systems, not interested in taking a multivitamin, or simply looking to improve their overall health. Why can it be good for you? Juicing allows vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables to be in their most absorbable state in order for your body to efficiently absorb and use them. Don’t miss this local food experience with plenty of ideas and tips for adding more seasonal and locally sourced foods + Juices into your diet for a healthier lifestyle. Nicole Cormier, registered dietitian, local food enthusiast and founder of Delicious Living Nutrition, Inc., will share her knowledge of healthy eating with ingredients that are locally grown and juicing. Learn creative and satisfying ways to prepare winter vegetables from the farmer’s market!
The MA Food System Plan, Winton Pitcoff
The Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan was completed in December 2015. It offers a set of goals and recommendations for strengthening the State’s food system, covering topics from soil health to marketing to equitable food access to waste, and everything in between. State agencies, legislators, nonprofits, and others are now stepping up to implement some of the key actions, and there are many opportunities to get involved. Winton Pitcoff, who was project manager for the planning process and is now Director of the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative, will provide some background about the plan and the efforts underway, and lead a discussion about ways to get engaged.
For the Kids:
Composting for Kids, Jon Belber
Holly Hill Farm Education Director, Jon Belber, will lead an activity on making compost, using recyclable ingredients from leaves to manure to food scraps and exploring a finished collection of red wriggler rich vermicompost.
Wool is WOW! Meghan Riley
Everyone knows that sheep grow wool but in this 90 minute workshop you will have the chance to learn some fun facts about why this fiber is so amazing. We will also learn about felting and everyone will make their own piece of felted fiber art to take home with them.
Bristol Aggie Farm Tour
Details coming soon.