2016 Annual Farm & Food Conference

Transforming Our Farms, Our Food and Our Future: Building the Road as We Go

November 18 – 19  *  Four Points Sheraton Hotel  *  Manhattan, Kansas

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The Kansas Rural Center invites you to join us November 18 and 19, 2016, at our Annual Farm and Food Conference in Manhattan, Kansas, at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel. This year’s activities, speakers and workshops will embody the theme, Transforming Our Farms, Our Food and Our Future:  Building the Road as We Go.”

The conference will feature two dynamite keynote speakers and two days of workshops sessions, presentations and panel discussions of how we transform our farms and our food system to better meet future environmental, economic and social challenges.

Friday, November 18: The first day will have a focus on Conservation and Diversified Farming Systems with an emphasis on Pollinators and Soil Health with Dr. Jonathon Lundgren as the keynote speaker. He is an award winning scientist (entomologist/agroecologist), who worked for USDA ARS for 11 years before starting his current project- Blue Dasher Farm, a research and demonstration farm. Lundgren has published nearly 100 scientific papers on pollinators and insects, including recent research on neonicotinoids, the body of pesticides suspected of harming pollinators and other wildlife.  Dr. Lundgren will talk about soil health and insects/pollinators, and the critical importance of biodiversity and diversified farming systems for food production.

Saturday, November 19: The focus will turn to how a local food system is part of any diversified farming system, and how collaboration and organizing is critical to development of a successful local and regional food system.  Dr. Liz Carlisle, currently a fellow at the Berkeley Food Institute’s Diversified Farming Systems Project and teaching at University of California at Stanford this fall, will be the keynote speaker. She is the author of Lentil Underground, a non-fiction book recounting her research and experience working with Montana’s sustainable, organic and local food movement and the social networks that organized to make it all work.

Carlisle brought her own unique talents and voice to the story of a sustainable farm to table food movement in Montana—a place most people would never expect to see foodies, local food, and environmentally savvy farmers (and kind of similar to how some view Kansas).  A Montana native, Carlisle worked for Senator John Tester, where she honed her real world knowledge of farmers and ranchers and the challenges they face, before returning to graduate school. While at Berkeley Food Institute’s Diversified Farming Institute, a research hub of internationally known faculty in agro-ecology, conservation biology, rural sociology, and political ecology, Carlisle worked with some of the best minds on the question of “How to Feed the Planet?” and on the need to diversify food systems.

Who Will Attend: The two -day conference promises to have something for a broad spectrum of attendees—from conventional and organic farmers, to beginning and established farmers, conservationists and environmentalists,  and local food advocates and community leaders.  New this year, North Central Region – Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (NCR SARE) is helping co-sponsor an entire track of SARE funded farmer research project sessions on day two titled “The Farmer Forum”.

Each day will include 12 to 15 workshop sessions ranging from the very practical how-to’s for farmers and ranchers to policy analysis and issue presentations.

Workshop topics include but are not limited to:

  • Enhancing Pollinator Habitat on the Farm
  • Soil Health and Diversity on Farms
  • Kansas Pollinator Network – What Kansas Conservation Organizations and Agencies are Doing to Protect Pollinators
  • Spray Drift on the Farm – Strategies for Prevention and Steps for Reporting
  • Wildlife Habitat and Pollinators
  • Benefits of Tree Management & Forests to Biodiversity and Climate Change
  • Specialty Crops and Crop Enterprise Budgets for Profitability in Kansas
  • Local Food Councils in Kansas- How to Organize
  • Local Food Policy and the State- Update on the State Local Food and Farm Policy Task Force
  • Renewable Energy Options for Kansas Farms
  • Resources Available for Beginning Farmers
  • How to Frame Your Narrative- Activist and Media Training
  • Growing the Growers – Increasing Specialty Crops in Kansas
  • Organic Grain Marketing Opportunities and Transition Challenges
  • Kansas Political Landscape- After the November Elections
  • And a series of farmer led sessions on North Central SARE’s on-farm research projects

Registration information and a full agenda are coming soon! Check back often or subscribe to our e-mail list for updates!