Urban agriculture, soil biology highlight 2019 Indiana Small Farm Conference

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - From strategies that can strengthen Indiana farms to inspired ideas for urban agriculture across the state, the Purdue Extension Indiana Small Farm Conference connects producers on backroads and busy streets to expert information and to each other.

The 2019 conference and trade show will be held from Feb. 28 to March 2 at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds and Conference Complex, 1900 E. Main St., Danville, Ind. Registration for the conference is now open at purdue.ag/sfc.

Since 2013, the conference has featured programming about diversified farming and local food systems – bringing together novice and experienced small-scale farmers to:

  • Gain practical, hands-on guidance from leaders and experts at workshops and breakouts.
  • Join discussions and demonstrations of what’s new and what’s next in small farming.
  • Attend a trade show with over 50 vendors of equipment, marketing and more.
  • Network with fellow farmers to cultivate Indiana’s small-farm community. 

“We’re honored to have seen this conference become a premier destination for farmers and professionals over the last several years,” says Tamara Benjamin, assistant program leader and diversified agriculture specialist with Purdue Extension and one of the conference’s organizers. “There is no hard and fast definition of what the small-farm community looks like, and that’s a great thing. Our programming reflects this diversity, and we enjoy being a hub where all people can gather to learn, network, and improve agriculture for Indiana and for the Midwest.”

The 2019 Indiana Small Farm Conference begins on Feb. 28 with a series of daylong workshops and tours. Workshop topics include: 

  • Crop Planning for Vegetable Growers.
  • Mushrooms, Molds and Mycorrhizae: A Fungal Immersion Course.
  • Successful Biological Orcharding. 

Two tours will be available: a butcher shop and livestock processing tour with Moody’s Butcher Shop, Smoking Goose and more; and an agritourism farm tour encompassing Hunter’s Honey Farm, and Mallow Run Winery. There will be an additional cost to attend the agritourism farm tour. Please see the registration page for details.

Breakout sessions March 1-2 will cover a variety of topics, including food safety, farm management, value-added products like herbs and oils, pest control, price trends, poultry, high tunnels, marketing, infrastructure, disease management, policy and diversity.

Keynote speakers for the 2019 conference are:

  • Michael Phillips (March 1) of Lost Nation Orchard, whose “Soil Redemption Song” encourages farmers to more deeply consider the role of soil biology in healthy crops. This means minimal soil disturbance, rational grazing and respectful forest management. Phillips also serves as coordinator of the Holistic Orchard Network and is the author of  “The Holistic Orchard: Growing Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way.” He will offer a full-day Thursday workshop on holistic soil nutrition and biodiversity in biological orcharding.

  • Karen Washington (March 2) of Rise & Root Farm. A New York native and urban agriculture advocate, Washington has pioneered access to fresh, locally grown food for large metro populations. She is a board member and former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition and a co-founder of Black Urban Growers. In 2012, Ebony named her among America’s 100 most influential African-Americans for her promotion of the power and dignity of growing your own food and in 2014, she received the James Beard Leadership Award. 

Vendors will display a wide range of agricultural equipment, products and services during a trade show March 1 and 2 in the facility’s exhibit hall. Those interested in exhibiting at the conference can find more information or register as an exhibitor online through Feb. 15.

For conference attendees registering before Feb. 4, admission is $75 for one day, $135 for two days and $190 for three days. After Feb. 4, admission is $90, $162 and $228.

Admission for children age 18 and younger is $20, 35 and $45 before Feb. 4 and $24, $42 and $54 after Feb. 4.

One discounted registration fee for your plus-one – such as a spouse/partner or someone who works on your farm – is available at $50, $100 or $140 before Feb. 4. Plus-one prices are $60, $120 or $168 after Feb. 4. Any additional attendees beyond a plus-one pay for full admission.

For more information – or to sign up – visit the Indiana Small Farm Conference website at purdue.ag/sfc. Follow the conference on Twitter and Instagram at @SmallFarmPurdue or on Facebook at @PurdueExtensionSmallFarms, #PurdueSmallFarms.

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