• WisBusiness

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

GreenBiz: Organic conference explores new trends in food and farming


By Gregg Hoffmann
Two keynote speakers will explore some new trends in food and farming when the 23rd annual Organic Farming Conference is held this week in La Crosse.

Margaret Krome, the policy program director for the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, will speak about “Growing Food, Health and Democracy: How Farmers, Activists, and Consumers are Finding Our Power and Transforming the Food System.”

Filmmaker Curt Ellis will make a presentation called, “Growing Forward: The New Faces of Food and Farming.”

The conference, presented by MOSES (Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service) is expected to draw more than 2,900 participants, 160 exhibitors and feature more than 65 workshops.

Krome will explore how to “support the pragmatic goals of personal and community health, fair markets and fair access to good food.” She will trace the “building blocks for individual action, political influence and ‘how we can use out movement’s creativity and energy to build sound agriculture that can be a foundation for restoring democracy in our nation‘.”

In the conference promotion of Krome’s presentation, it contends that “for reasons both political and social, the nation has come to a turning point in agricultural policies.”

Krome oversees MFAI’s policy program. In this capacity, she coordinates the annual national grassroots campaign to fund federal programs supported by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Over many years, she has collaborated to create and sustain funding for a number of state initiatives supporting “environmentally sound, profitable, and socially responsible agriculture.”

Krome’s work and opinions also are known through a bi-weekly editorial column she writes for The Capital Times in Madison.

Ellis is the maker of the film “King Corn,” co-founder of the Food Corps and winner of both the Heinz and Peabody awards for his video and film work.

King Corn is a feature documentary film released in October 2007 following Ellis and a college friend, Ian Cheney, as they move from Boston to Greene, Iowa, to grow and farm an acre of corn.

In the process, Cheney and Ellis examined the role that the increasing production of corn has had for American society, spotlighting the role of government in the “industrialization” of the crop. Their contention is that the trend has led to the demise of family farms in favor of larger industrial farms.

Through what is described as a “video-rich, multi-format” presentation, Ellis will report on a new generation of leaders who are getting back to the land and attempting to reverse the industrialization trend.

“Who are these young leaders that are stepping up to work the fields, milk the goats and write policies that are transforming the way we farm and eat?” reads the conference description of Ellis’ presentation. “What galvanized their interest in healing the environment and fixing food? How can we harness their passion and create a world where every child can grow up with knowledge of what good food is, a hands-on connection to where it comes from, and daily access to its nutrients?”

Conference workshops will range from exploring soils and systems to marketing and business. Cynthia Cambardella of the USDA’s National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment will explore the “Basics of Soil Structure and Management Practices That Favor Development of Soil Health” on Friday, Feb. 24.

Michael Phillips, author of The Apple Grower, will explore holistic orchard management while Thaddeus McCamant of Northland Community and Technical College will look at organic strawberry production.

University of Wisconsin researchers Erin Silva and John Hendrickson and farmers Jim Munsch and Linda Halley will detail whole farm management systems to increase farm profitability.

Several workshops are on marketing for local food initiatives and Community Supported Agriculture efforts.

An annual favorite on the first day of the conference, Feb. 23, is the Organic University, which presents 10 pre-conference courses. The full day courses are geared to novice and experts alike.

Farmers, academics and various experts provide more than six hours of background information and practical applications. Resource books also are provided for the courses so participants can continue to study beyond the end of the courses.

The MOSES Organic Farmer of the Year will be named at the conference. The award is given annually to an organic farmer who practices “outstanding land stewardship, innovation and outreach.”

More than 50 organic and sustainable agriculture companies and organizations help sponsor the conference.

For more information on the conference, go to http://www.mosesorganic.org.

-- Hoffmann has written many columns and features for WisPolitics.com and WisBusiness.com over the years. He will write the GreenBiz column monthly.

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Comments: 7

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At May 11, 2016 at 2:49 AM, Blogger Huỳnh Duy said...

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At May 11, 2016 at 2:55 AM, Blogger Huỳnh Duy said...

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