TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Rural Center’s annual Farm & Food Conference November 16-17, 2018 will feature 12 educational workshops each day providing practical information for diversifying and managing farm or ranch enterprises, support for beginning and the next generation of farmers, building a new food and farm economy, and communicating for stronger on-farm, community, and public policy decisions. The conference will be held at the Hotel at Old Town Conference Center in Wichita, Ks. A full agenda and registration information is available online at www.kansasruralcenter.org.
Keynote presenters and breakout sessions will exemplify the theme, “Framing Our Future: What is Right about Food, Farming and Communities in Kansas.”
The conference aims to include education and dialogue that appeals to a diverse audience at different levels of farming, community organizing and advocacy. Ninety-minute workshop sessions will feature presentations and panel discussions with farmers and ranchers, community leaders, scientists, conservationists, natural resource managers, and food and policy experts and activists.
Breakout sessions include topics exploring land link program options, sharing farmer examples and experiences with succession planning, discussing an alternative land ownership model, how to build resiliency and value to farms and ranches, how to manage specialty crop production and finances, developing local and healthy food access, expanding urban agriculture, climate change & health resilience, how building soil health will shape the future of Ag in Kansas, meat labeling and claims, woodlands resiliency and carbon sequestration, rural advocacy through civic engagement, community building through the arts, diversity in Kansas, how to support Farm to School in your community, and an update following the elections by the WEALTH network of organizations (Water, Energy, Air, Land, Transportation and Health).
Friday afternoon will feature a plenary session titled, “What is Right about Kansas Farms, Food and Communities?” The session will bring together a panel of Kansans working with farmers and communities around the state to strengthen opportunities for economic and social wealth. The panel will include Kansas Sampler Foundation’s Marci Penner; Luke Mahin, Republic County Economic Development; Debbie Beardon, Allen County Farm Bureau, Donna McClish, Common Ground Mobil Market; Steve Swaffar, No-Till on the Plains; and Ed Reznicek, Central Plains Organic Producers.
Three nationally renowned keynotes will be on the schedule to provide national context and experience to growing local economies through healthy food systems from the soil to the dinner plate.
Friday’s keynote speaker Dr. Mary Hendrickson, University of Missouri rural sociologist, will speak on “Growing Community with Local and Regional Food Systems.” She has spent 15 years working to create local food systems in the state of Missouri through University of Missouri Extension where she gained valuable on the ground experience in transforming food systems. Dr. Hendrickson is one of the authors of “Harvesting Opportunity: The Power of Regional Food System Investments to Transform Communities,” published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis last year.
On Saturday, David Montgomery, University of Washington professor, winner of a MacArthur Fellowship, will speak to his latest book “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life” and explore the farming practices needed for a transformation in agriculture and soil health. Montgomery is also author of Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations and The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health, a collaboration with Anne Biklé, his wife.
Anne Biklé is a biologist with professional experience in watershed restoration, environmental planning, and public health. She will focus on the connections between soil health and human health in her afternoon keynote address. Her work and research connecting soil and human health has appeared in many magazines, radio and documentaries.
Those looking to network with new and old acquaintances will have several opportunities throughout each day of the conference through session dialogues, scheduled breaks and a Friday evening social complete with locally sourced snacks and Kansas beer.
Cost to attend the conference is $70 per day or $135 for both days which 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 people, businesses, and organizations shaping farming, food production, and the environment, in Kansas and beyond.
Register online at www.kansasruralcenter.org. A limited number of scholarships are available to students and beginning farmers. Call 866-579-5469 or email email@example.com to learn how to apply. Registration deadline is November 12. Hotel rooms at the Hotel at Old Town are available at a discounted rate until Oct. 22 for conference participants. After Oct. 22 the hotel will honor the discount if rooms are still available. To reserve a room, call (316) 267-4800. Request the group rate for “Kansas Rural Center Farm and Food Conference.”
— Kansas Rural Center
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