Register Now for KRC’s 2017 Farm and Food Conference
Registration for the Kansas Rural Center’s Annual Farm and Food Conference is now open. The conference will be held November 17 and 18, 2017, at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel, 530 Richards Drive, Manhattan, Kansas, and 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.
This year’s theme, “Driving the Change that Matters: Practical and Political Solutions to our Farm and Food Future” will highlight how biological, human and economic diversity builds resilience, and how we can increase diversity on our farms, in our communities, and in our part of the world.
The keynote presenter on day one of the two-day conference is Denise O’Brien, Women Food and Agriculture Network founder and longtime Iowa farm activist. As a farmer, O’Brien has worked on state, national and international agriculture and conservation policy and written and spoken across the U.S. on women in agriculture, organic and sustainable farming and local food systems. She organized the Women’s Task Force of the Iowa Farm Unity Coalition, directed the Rural Women’s Leadership Development Project of PrairieFire Rural Action, Inc., and served as president of the National Family Farm Coalition. In 2012, O’Brien spent a year as a USDA agriculture adviser in Afghanistan. Her presentation “What Can One Person Do? The Perspective of a Long-Time Activist” will cover the power of grassroots engagement and “putting yourself in the drivers seat to make the change that matters.”
Ferd Hoefner, Senior Strategic Advisor for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), will be the keynote speaker on day two. Hoefner has been NSAC’s senior representative in D.C. since 1988. Today he serves in a mentoring and advising role. NSAC is the leading voice for sustainable agriculture in the federal policy arena, representing over 100 grassroots farm, food, conservation, and rural organizations from all over the country to advocate for federal policies supporting the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities.
Hoefner will speak on “The Past, Present, and Future of Sustainable Agriculture” providing an overview of farm policy, on the ground successes, grassroots efforts to create and change policy, and the work yet to be done to ensure a sustainable food and farming future. “No one knows the ins and outs, the history of farm policy better than Ferd. And to know where you need to go, you need to know where you’ve been,” states Mary Fund, KRC Executive Director. “At a time when most of what comes out of Washington, D.C. is depressing or frustrating, NSAC continues to slog away at building a better food and farming system.”
On Friday, Pastor Adrion Roberson, faculty at the Kansas Leadership Center, and co-pastor of Berean Community Church in Kansas City, will also address the conference with comments on “Recognizing the Adaptive Challenges of Defining Our Purpose, our values, our vision for the sake of our future.” Division, conflict and disagreement seem common everywhere as we find ourselves with ever more complex problems to solve. Within our communities, at work, and even within our families and among friends and neighbors, we face more uncertainty of finding common purpose and common solutions. How do we identify common values and a vision for our collective future? How do we communicate that to each other? Pastor Roberson will also facilitate a 90 minute workshop doing a deeper dive into how we start conversations, engage each other and move forward on difficult issues?
On Day two, an afternoon panel on “Diversity in Kansas: The People and Cultures of Food and Farming”, will discuss the roles and challenges of diversity in people, culture and ideas at work in Kansas. Just as we’ve learned that multi-species diversity benefits ecological health, we now need to understand the benefits of multi-cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity in our communities, state, and country. Panelists will come from Southwest Kansas (home to a multitude of nationalities and immigrants), the New Roots for Refugees Program in Kansas City, and the Kansas Black Farmers Association.
Each day will also include 12 to 15 breakout sessions including practical production and marketing information, conservation practices and management, farmer presentations on SARE demonstration projects, the 2018 farm bill, and informative sessions on state policy, community organizing efforts in Kansas, and more.
“Each year conference participants claim that the primary benefit of the conference is the people they meet,” states Fund. “The networking and the energy is always incredible. We encourage you to come not just for the how-to info you’ll gain, but for your annual dose of hope and inspiration!”
Cost to attend the conference is $70 per day or $135 for both days. This includes access to all presenters, lunch and snacks both days, and a Friday evening social hour. Both days will include a lunch from locally-sourced ingredients and will offer conference attendees time for networking and visiting exhibitor booths in order to connect with and learn more about the great people and exciting things happening in farming, food production, and the environment, in Kansas and beyond.
Sponsors for the 2017 Conference include: Mother Earth News; The Land Institute; Kansas SARE and Kansas Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Alternative Crops; Westar; SAVE (Servicemember Agricultural Vocation Education Corp); Kansas Chapter of the Sierra Club; Kansas Forest Service; Kansas Department of Agriculture; Center for Rural Affairs; Eastern Kansas Chapter of Organic Crop Improvement Association; Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams; Kansas Natural Resource Council; Kansas Permaculture Institute; The Merc Co-op; Green Cover Seeds; Kansas Farmers Union; Kansas Organic Producers; Kansas Wildlife Federation; No Till on the Plains; The Nature Conservancy; League of Women Voters; Cromwell Environmental; Kansas Association of Conservation Districts; Blue River Organic Seed; and Climate + Energy Project.
A limited number of scholarships are available to students and beginning farmers. Call 866-579-5469 Extension 701 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to apply.