"New Opportunities, Sustaining Local Agriculture for the Future" is the theme of the sixth annual Michigan Family Farms Conference on Saturday, Jan. 17 at Lakeview High School in Battle Creek, Michigan. Registration is now open, so visit www.miffs.org/mffc to save your spot today and explore this conference's great possibilities and opportunities for family farmers.
This diverse conference has grown in past years and focuses on issues facing limited resource farmers and opportunities to make family farms more sustainable and viable for future years and future generations. Last year's gathering brought more than 400 participants to Battle Creek together to learn, network and experience the wealth of information and diversity this unique event has to offer.
Wayne Keith, the Alabama farmer, innovator and energy guru whose wood-burning pickup truck sheds new light on the future of biofuels, will be back this year as our keynote speaker to share his knowledge and experience on saving energy and farming off the grid. Wayne will also do an afternoon breakout session on the technical aspects of how he got his truck to run on burning wood scraps from his sawmill and other ways he's made his farm sustainable and energy-efficient.
Educational sessions cover everything the small farmer needs to succeed, from sustainable growing practices to marketing opportunities to available resources in the world of agriculture. Sessions include: Crop Insurance Products; Beekeeping; Farm Energy Savings Checklist; How to Sell at a Farmers Market; Learning to be Certified Organic; Agriculture Loans; Selling to a Grocery Store; Farm to School; What is my Woodlot Worth?; and Preparing to Sell: Business Aspects and Legal Requirements. Also, there will be three Vegetable Production Basics sessions on Crop Selection, Scheduling and Planning, and Soil and Plant Health, as well as four Farm Bill sessions on Marketing and Specialty Crops and what opportunities the USDA Farm Service Agency, Rural Development and Natural Resources Conservation Service can offer small farmers.
Several of the educational sessions, as well as the keynote address, will also feature Spanish translations using listening equipment.
Each session is led by an experienced individual or panel, representing a range of farms, agencies and organizations from all across the state to offer unique perspectives and experiences on each topic. These individuals are the leaders in their field and have information, connections and resources to share. Speakers are also accompanied by a farmer who has lived through it to share his or her personal experience in the challenges and successes of each topic. Together, these people offer a unique and comprehensive mix of technical, practical and hands-on experience and information.
And because this is the Michigan Family Farms Conference, the conference will feature youth sessions with fun, educational and hands-on activities in the morning, as well as an afternoon trip to Binder Park Zoo to meet the animals in their winter environments.
"The history, success and diversity of this conference are truly something to celebrate," said Elaine Brown, Michigan Food & Farming Systems Executive Director. "So many communities, ideas and experiences all coming together to learn and network like this is a testament to the good work all of the partners are doing to make this possible."
Partners and sponsors to date include MIFFS, the Farm Research Cooperative, the USDA Farm Service Agency, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA Rural Development, the USDA Risk Management Agency, Potawatomi Resource Conservation & Development Council, Michigan State University Extension, and the Calhoun and Kalamazoo Conservation Districts.
The full conference brochure and online registration are now available at www.miffs.org/mffc, where you can also download the brochure, learn more about the conference and read about the successes of past years. Registration cost is $35 for each adult and $25 for each youth participant under 16 years of age. MIFFS members receive a discount at registration and can attend for only $30, a great value for a full day of learning and making connections. Learn more about MIFFS or join by visiting www.miffs.org/join.asp.
For more information about the conference or registration, contact the MIFFS Office at (517) 432-0712 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Barbara Norman at (269) 208-4588. Don't miss out on this great conference!