There is a season - for farm conferences

The low season for farming is the high season for conferences. There are several events coming up here in Michigan that look great if you're interested in farming, food, and community. It looks like these are mostly open to anyone interested in farming and food, but I think all require some kind of pre-registration. 

January 18, February 23, March 8, 9:30am - 4:00pm

CSA-MI is hosting one-day how-to workshops on "Starting a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm or adding CSA to your existing farm"

They say: "This all-day training session will help new and prospective growers get off to a good start, avoiding some of the problems that lead to grower or farm member dissatisfaction. The format will be 'Farmer-to-Farmer.' A panel of experienced CSA growers will make short presentations, with each grower offering insight into their 'take' on each topic. The needs of the participants will guide additional discussion. Lunch is included. Cost: $50."



January 19, 2008, Kettunen Center near Tustin, Michigan
February 23, 2008, Kalamazoo, Michigan at the Public Library
March 8, 2008, Ann Arbor at Leslie Science Center - Nature House

To register (and for more information) see this website:

January 19, 2008

Michigan Family Farms Conference, Lakeview High School, Battle Creek, MI

"This conference focuses on innovative and sustainable strategies to help family farms do more than just stay in business.  Through educational sessions organized into six tracks and an inspirational keynote speech by David Kline, farmers can learn to improve their practices, market their products, manage their farm and protect the environment. Tracks include marketing, production, farm management, alternative energy and a Spanish-speaking track.  This year will also feature an extended track on grant writing assistance for farmers and a youth track.  Topics within these sessions range from niche marketing and business planning to small-scale wind energy, conservation plans and soil health.

January 26, 2008, 

9th Annual Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference, Grayling High School, Grayling, MI

Keynote Speaker: Chris Bedford - "The Local Food Revolution and How it Can Rebuild Michigan"

"Michigan's economy is in crisis.  By every measure - employment, household income, manufacturing - our state is in decline.  If Michigan is to thrive and prosper, we need to do something different, something effective, something ecologically intelligent.  To date, the public debate on "what to do" has encompassed everything except the one action that could actually transform our state right now.

If Michigan intentionally supported small farmers growing food for local consumption many of the most persistent problems facing us would diminish greatly and, ultimately, disappear.  Why is local food production so critical to our future?  And how could the local food revolution actually transform our state?  What specific steps do we need to take to make this change happen?

Chris Bedford talks about the role Michigan's small farmers can play in regenerating our environment, our economy, and our health."

"Other topics include: Pasture Raised and Organic Livestock Production, Using Local Food, Organic Pork Production on Small Farms, Is Climate Changing in the Great Lakes Region, Passive solar Greenhouses for Season Extension and Winter Harvest, Cover Crops for Michigan’s Vegetable Farms, Specialty Mushroom Production for Small Scale Farms, and many more."

February 29-March 1, 2008

Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance Conference, Kellogg Center, Michigan State University, Lansing, MI

"Conference Program Includes Sessions for Consumers, Gardeners, Farmers and Buyers of Organic Produce. For the Full Conference Schedule, Click Here

  • Living the Organic Lifestyle
  • Whole Farm Planning
  • Livestock/Fruit and Vegetable Integrated Systems
  • CSAs, Cow Share Programs, and Buying Clubs
  • Soil Organic Matter, Organic Pest Management
  • National Policy and the Future of Organic Ag. in MI
  • Extending the Michigan Growing Season
  • And Many more!!!!!

Food Systems Film Festival! Friday Feb. 29th 7:30    

"Sioux City Sue:  The Organic Opportunity: Local Food as Economic Development in Woodbury County, IA"

Food Systems Film Festival! Saturday March 1st during the Conference see films such as:

"Asparagus: A Stalk-umentary"

"The Water Front"

"Global Dimming:  What does this Climate Conunbrum Mean for the Future of the Earth?"

"Talking 'bout Making Culture: Community Supported Agriculture in Michigan"

April 3, 2008
Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP) Conference, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monroe, MI

"The annual Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP) conference will be held on Thursday, April 3, 2008 at the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) conference facility in Monroe.  The IHM sisters are committed to sustainability and the buildings at this site have undergone a major green renovation.  Here is a link to information about the renovation:


Some exciting topics to be covered at the conference include urban agriculture in Detroit, local food distribution, and the marketing of local food. More information about the conference will be available on our website soon!"


Also, if you're interested in seeing documentary filmmaker Chris Bedford, from Montague, MI, and his film called "What Will We Eat" about the Sweetwater Local Food Market, in Muskegon ("Michigan’s first farmers market that exclusively sells locally grown animal products and fruits and vegetables raised in a manner that enhances biological diversity, builds soil health and promotes animal welfare.”) and others in Sioux City, Iowa and beyond, you may be interested in the event below in Chicago:

February 5, 2008

Chicago Farm Forum, Chicago High School for the Agricultural Arts, Chicago, IL
Registration is required. For more information or to register call 312-744-9493 or email: 

"Due to the success of the Chicago Farmers Markets system the City of Chicago is actively seeking to recruit more farmers to serve the citywide system.  The Chicago Farm Forum is scheduled for Tuesday, February 5, 2008 at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. The workshop is designed to answer questions and inform new and existing farmers and producers --how they too, can participate in Chicago’s well attended program.  The City of Chicago is looking for farmers from Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois. Some of the products in demand include organic fruit and vegetables, artisan cheeses and specialty foods that are a staple in the diet of Hispanics and the African-American Community.  

This year’s keynote speaker is Chris Bedford.  Bedford is co-founder and President of the Sweetwater Local Foods Market – Michigan’s first farmer's market that exclusively sells locally grown fruits and vegetables raised in a manner that enhances biological diversity and builds soil health.   The meats, eggs, and cheese sold are from animals raised humanely without antibiotics or hormones. His film, “What Will We Eat?” will be shown and tells the story of a citizen’s movement to build a healthy, local food supply."

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