Conference Topics

With over 40 presentations and workshops given by world-class researchers, authors, revolutionary food producers and vocal food quality advocates, conference attendees can engage in a dialogue on why food quality demands our attention, how food production can shift environmental quality, what implications these changes have on human health, and why support of local food systems is more critical than ever.

Principles and Practices of Biological Farming

Applicable to large and small growers alike, a practicum on the principles of biological management will be given by expert growers. Strategies that are scale independent will be reviewed, with considerations given to soil quality, product quality, cost benefits and market creation.

Find Your Soil's Weakest Link: How to identify what your soil needs most to streamline performance & productivity
Do you ever feel lost among a sea of choices about soil fertility? 
Do you want to find the simplest path to productive healthy plants? This session will clarify how to choose the best course of action to get the most bang for your buck. From compost and compost teas, to seed inoculants and treatments, we will discuss how to know when to add biology, add minerals, or feed biology, and how to know which foods your soil needs most to perform well.

Vail Dixon, Founder, Simple Soil Solutions, Dillwyn, VA

Ballet in the Pasture
Take a virtual tour of Polyface Farm, from field to forest, fertility to infrastructure. Multi-speciated pasture management using mobile, modular, and management-intensive design creates ecological, emotional, and economic advantages. Choreographing intricate symbiosis and synergistic relationships can be achieved at commercial scale. Through years of trial and error, Polyface models fit with its resource base and community on the edge of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.
Joel Salatin, Polyface Farm, Swoope, VA, author of "Folks, This Ain't Normal", "You Can Farm", and "Salad Bar Beef", among many others

Introduction to Soil Minerals
For those new to, or feeling overwhelmed by, the concepts of regenerative agriculture, I'll cover the methodology used when assessing soil mineral balance. Learn about interpreting soil test results, picking amendments, and some resources for plant scouting and identifying nutrient deficiencies in plants.

David Forster, Agronomy Consultant, Bionutrient Food Association, Forster Soil Management

IMO (Indigenous Micro-Organisms)
In this workshop we will cover, in detail, the techniques utilized in the production and use of IMO. IMO is a microbe culture taken from local forest soils, then multiplied through various culture steps to produce a highly activated inoculant utilized in our vegetable production as well as other application on our farm. The material has proven to be quite useful in enhancing the quality of produce from out farm.
Bryan O'Hara, Tobacco Road Farm, Lebanon, CT

The Devil is in the Details: implementing an integrated plan of biological practices in a large-scale operation
Walk through the growing season with Will Brownback, partner of Spiral Path Farm. In this presentation, Brownback will present an overview of his farm and practices, with an eye to implementation and follow-through. Critical topics will include inoculation, mineral balancing, seed sourcing and varietals, starting transplants, as well as growing, harvest and storage techniques
Will Brownback, Spiral Path Farm, Loysville, PA

Key Practices to Maintain Fertility in a Successful Operation
From the perspective of a 300-acre family farm, key practices can be the distinguishing factor between a successful and resilient operation that provides a quality product, and one that does not. A review of Spiral Path Farm’s irrigation, vegetable compost, cover crop, tillage, fertilizers and plasticulture systems and strategies will be presented.

Will Brownback, Spiral Path Farm, Loysville, PA

Transitioning the Farm into Biological Management
Jean-Paul will share lessons learned from having transitioned two farms to biological management, and from being in the middle of transitioning a large conventional sweet corn farm to biological management now. Discussion will include both positive changes that happen during the transition and the challenges that arise during the process, as well as strategies being used to address these challenges.
Jean-Paul Courtens, Associate Director for Farmer Training, Hudson Valley Food Hub, Local Economies Project

Putting it all Together: a framework for soil health management planning
Soil health testing is used to enable data-informed soil health management decisions. Bob's presentation will provide an overview of how soil processes interact and will identify tests to measure these essential soil processes. He will demonstrate how this information can be translated into a management plan by reviewing soil management options that can address identified impaired soil functions.
Robert Schindelbeck, MS, Extension Associate, Department of Crop and Soil Science, Cornell University

Using Nutritional Management to Develop Disease Resistance
Advancing Eco Agriculture has worked with hundreds of farmers growing many different crops to help them develop complete disease and insect resistance. We have observed a gradual evolution of plant health, where crops become resistant to different groups of diseases or insects based on their physiological and nutritional integrity. John will discuss real world experience in developing crops with exceptionally strong immune responses to disease and insect pests by managing nutrition and cultural management practices.
John Kempf, Founder, Advancing Eco Agriculture, Middlefield, OH

Beyond First Adopters: what will it take for farms to engage in biological management?

Crystal will share her perspective on more mainstream adoption of biological management from her work with both organic and conventional farmers throughout Eastern New York, with a focus on risk management and barriers to adoption. She will share how both university and farmer-led research are helping advance knowledge and adoption of biological management, and will facilitate a discussion among participants about next steps to advance adoption of biological management.
Crystal Stewart, MS, Regional Vegetable Specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension

Wake Up Your Soil with Weeds: how to prevent weeds from germinating, and work with them to heal your soil
Have you ever wondered what you can do to work with nature
instead of fighting weeds? Did you know that what you feed the soil can actually prevent weeds from germinating? Learn why weeds grow and how to feed your soil to help the plants you want to grow thrive. Learn how to support the biology to work for you.

Vail Dixon, Founder, Simple Soil Solutions, Dillwyn, VA

The Seed as FoundationStarting material from inside and out

A spectacular and delicious harvest starts with the seed. Simplifying the many considerations for optimal emergence, establishment and harvest, this session includes presentations and how-to workshops from the perspective of the seed’s needs.

Evolutionary Plant Breeding on the Farm
Healthy seed and soil are two of the fundamental elements of any robust agricultural system. If these elements are well maintained, healthy, and farmed with sound ecological practices then it is possible to grow crops that are strong, resilient, nutritious, and well-adapted to a particular region. I will discuss the fundamental concepts of developing a regionally based, on-farm breeding program; from the basics of choosing resilient crop germplasm to begin the breeding process to evaluating and selecting under the challenges of a changing environment.

John Navazio, Plant Breeding Program Manager, Johnny's Selected Seeds, author of "The Organic Seed Grower: A Farmer's Guide to Vegetable Seed Production"

Culinary Breeding Network: a novel approach in guiding trait development
Plant breeders are decision makers. When a plant breeder crosses two different plants of the same species, the following generations are often widely diverse. Different traits within the two parents’ genetics show up in each offspring, creating a spectrum of variation—not unlike the differences in siblings—including different flavors, shapes, sizes and colors. The plant breeder then decides which to keep and which to discard. Often times, these decisions are made without much outside input. The Culinary Breeding Network was created to bring plant breeders together with fresh market farmers, chefs, produce buyers, food journalists and other leaders in the food community to bridge the gap between breeders and eaters with a goal of developing higher quality, more relevant and desirable vegetable cultivars.
Lane Selman, MS, Oregon State University, Culinary Breeding Network

Biological Seed Inoculums and Activators
Seeds are the source of life...Protect them! Simplifying the many considerations for biological seed inoculums and the benefits to the seed, soil, plant and yield; applicable to large and small growers alike; this session will cover specific microbes and how they promote and protect during germination and beyond.
Dane Terrill, Director of Sales and Marketing, Crop Services International/Flowerfield Enterprises, Portage, MI

Seed to Seed: Critical Points of Influence in Plant Development
Reproductive crops have very specific windows of plant development when they are initiating and developing reproductive buds that have a tremendous impact on yield and fruit quality. Any stress influence at these specific points can result in substantial yield reductions, a loss of fruit quality, and increased pest susceptibility. John will discuss specific nutrient management practices at these Critical Points of Influence that produce crops with a high degree of disease resistance, and exceptional seed and fruit quality.
John Kempf, Founder, Advancing Eco Agriculture, Middlefield, OH

Monitoring Ecosystem Health and Food QualityFrom observation to measurement

Soil and food quality are intuitively known to be important to growers and consumers alike, but until recently, rapid, comprehensive and user friendly assessments have not been possible. This session reviews technological advancements on how to understand human and soil ecosystem health through measurement.

The Basis of Soil and Crop Quality Measurement: energy signatures at multiple scales

Are you measuring what you think you’re measuring? This presentation will review several modes of analysis used in the assessment of soil and crop quality – optical, electrical, x ray etc.- and will discuss information that can be gained by detecting the energy of a desired analyte. By addressing concerns of scale as well as resolution and sensitivity, the presentation will help to formulate guidelines (and suggest tools or approaches to measurement) that users could employ when seeking to evaluate the state of crops, soils, and the environment in between.

Michael Kandianis, PhD, Physicist, Shell Innovation, Research, and Development

Rapid Assessment of Soil and Crop Health Using a Bird's-Eye View
Producers now have tools available to use in the management of their fields and pastures that are based on aerial observation using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV or drone) and fixed wing aircraft imagery. These images include various geo- referenced visible and non-visible light spectrum that are valuable indicators of soil types and health even before the crop is planted, and useful to monitor crop health throughout the growing season. Aerial observations combined with ground scouting allow for greater flexibility of management decisions. Use of these technologies will be explained and specific technology options and services for producers of most scales will be introduced.

Lloyd Willard, President & Co-Owner, Creation View Imaging, Miltona, MN

Managing Crop Nutritional Integrity Using Sap Analysis
Plant nutritional requirements fluctuate through the growing season based on the stages of crop development and fruit load. Monitoring and managing nutritional integrity is the foundation of strong immune responses to various disease and insect pests. Laboratory analysis of leaf sap is an exceptionally accurate technology which can detect nutritional imbalances weeks earlier than the current industry standard tissue analysis. John will describe the use of sap analysis to manage a crops nutritional integrity and disease resistance during the growing season.

John Kempf, Founder, Advancing Eco Agriculture, Middlefield, OH

Resonance Frequency Based Conductivity As a New Criteria for Food Quality
The electrical properties of plants have been used as a measure of vitality, although with limited success. The flow of electrons and protons through all biological systems, including plants, generates endogenous currents, similar to the nervous system of mammals. The flow of endogenous currents has been measured in terms of conductivity and resistance. It is proposed here that the reason these measures have had limited success in measuring vitality is because the measurements are non-specific for the unique electrical properties associated with each plant.

For electronic reasons, all conductivity/resistance meters require measurements at a specific frequency. The new method allows measurements to be taken at any frequency. Under certain circumstances many frequencies coalesce into one strong resonance frequency of particular physiological significance. Original research at the Quantum-Biology Research Lab will be presented supporting the hypothesis that resonance frequency based conductivity measures is a new, relevant method for measuring plant vitality.
Glen Rein, PhD, Quantum Biology Research Lab, Ridgway, CO

Soil Food Web: A Trump Card to Evaluate the Underground Efficiency of Your Operation
Photographs and data from small and large growers demonstrate improvement to the soil foodweb using an infusion of biology to their system through application of compost, compost tea, biological inoculant and stimulants. The stockpile of information presented in this session- including what defines and how to measure the Soil Food Web – can be incorporated into good farming practices with outcomes of healthier soil, healthier plants and healthier families.
Dane Terrill, Director of Sales and Marketing, Crop Services International/ Flowerfield Enterprises

Food Flavor as a Nexus for Food Quality Improvement

Of the many reasons to pick your favorite food, one keeps you coming back for more... flavor. How flavor is associated with other desirable characteristics including nutritional composition, visual appearance and yield is just beginning to be understood. In this session, learn about how growers, consumers and chefs value flavor, and how practitioners are working to maximize these qualities.

The Social Culinary Currency of Flavor
Eating reflects not only the art of cultivation, but is also a barometer of social justice and catalog of resource preservation. Feeding ourselves is like feeding our soil: it is an immersive art which stimulates the conscious development of heritage.
Kevin Archer, Chef, Light on the Hill Retreat Center, Van Etten, NY

Farm to Cup Tea Tasting (Sensory Workshop)

Tasting food is one of our most intimate connections to the environment. Mindful tasting can enhance our awareness including our understanding of where are food comes from and how it was produced. This session will walk you through the basics of mindful tasting through an exploration of teas cultivated from different environmental conditions.

Selena Ahmed, PhD, Montana State University, Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems, author of "Tea Horse Road: China's Ancient Trade Road to Tibet"

How Palates Link Herbivores With Landscapes
An attuned palate enables herbivores to meet needs for nutrients and self-medicate. Three integrated processes empower these relationships: flavor- feedback associations, availability of phytochemically rich foods, and learning in utero and early in life to eat nourishing combinations of foods. This evolution is most apparent when herbivores forage in extended families on phytochemically rich landscapes, is less common when they forage on monoculture pastures, and is close to zero for unrelated animals in feedlots. More generally, these relationships illustrate how creative systems display emergent properties that arise from the endless interactions among the many facets of ecosystems. That means we must continually transform with ever-changing environments, participate in creating, and realize "things never were the way they were and they never will be again." Appreciating these relationships creates opportunities for people and the animals in our care to be locally evolving with the landscapes we inhabit.
Fred Provenza, PhD, Utah State University Emeritus, Department of Wildland Resources

Human Sensate Ability in Herbal Medicine as a Gauge for Quality (Sensory Workshop)

Organolepsis is the science of using human senses to evaluate botanical quality. Learn about taste, odor, mouthfeel, visual characteristics, tactile elements such as fracture and crumble, and how we can leverage a common language and collaborative organolepsis to identify and characterize raw material. These techniques, if used properly, not only give you confidence about the herbs you're working with, but also serve as an FDA-accepted test of quality when compared to a well-described reference standard.

Guido Masé, Chief Herbalist, Urban Moonshine, Burlington, VT, author of "The Wild Medicine Solution: Healing with Aromatic, Bitter, and Tonic Plants"

Flavor and Nutrition at the Marketplace
What are the connections between terroir, flavor, nutrition, and health? How does this vary on the basis of production practices, distribution, and processing? This talk will address these questions using findings from crop quality trials in the marketplace towards tastier food, healthier communities, and more sustainable food systems.

Selena Ahmed, PhD, Montana State University, Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems, author of "Tea Horse Road: China's Ancient Trade Road to Tibet";
Alexandra Sclafani, undergraduate student, Dartmouth College, Environmental Studies and Geography;
Cailin Mason, undergraduate student, Dartmouth College, Environmental Studies

Sensory Evaluations of Vegetables (Sensory Workshop)

John Navazio of Johnny's Selected Seeds and Lane Selman of Culinary Breeding Network will share their experience and methods used to evaluate the culinary qualities of vegetables including identifying preferences, describing vegetables' attributes and identifying their best uses. This session will include a sensory evaluation of carrots, beets and peppers.

John Navazio, Plant Breeding Program Manager, Johnny's Selected Seeds, author of "The Organic Seed Grower: A Farmer's Guide to Vegetable Seed Production";
Lane Selman, MS, Founder, Culinary Breeding Network, Oregon State University

Sound Body, Sound MindMerging health and environmentally-conscious perspectives of food production and diet through mindful living

Catalyzing synergy across ecosystems, and within individuals, occurs with the realization that all actions have reactions. Mindfulness of this community structure can positively affect health, productivity and growth. In this session, presentations focus on how we can be more effective in shaping our ecosystems and communities.

Mending Broken Linkages: soil, plants, herbivores, and humans
Unlike our ancestors, the palates of many humans are no longer linked in healthy ways with landscapes. Industrial farming and selection for yield, appearance, and transportability diminished flavor, phytochemical richness, and nutritive value of produce for humans. Phytochemically impoverished pastures and feedlot diets can adversely affect health of livestock, flavor and nutritive value of meat and milk products for humans. While flavors of produce, meat, and dairy have become blander, processed foods have become more desirable as people have linked synthetic flavors with feedback from energy-rich compounds that obscure nutritional sameness and diminish health. Thus, the roles plants and animals once played in nutrition have been usurped by processed foods that are altered, fortified, and enriched in ways that can adversely affect appetitive states and food preferences. The need to amend foods, and to take nutrient supplements, could be reduced by creating phytochemically rich plants and herbivores and by creating cultures that know how to combine foods into meals that nourish and satiate.
Fred Provenza, PhD, Utah State University Emeritus, Department of Wildland Resources

A Flavorful Cup of Diversity: learning from stewards of tea agro-forests
Some of the most delicious teas are cultivated in farms that mimic nature. This talk will bring you to the highland farms of southwestern China to explore the diversified agricultural practices that result in high quality teas with rich flavor, phytonutrients, and healing properties.
Selena Ahmed, PhD, Montana State University, Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems, author of "Tea Horse Road: China's Ancient Trade Road to Tibet"

How Medicinals Fit in the Farm-Scape and Human-Scape
Humans, whether we choose to realize it or not, are inseparable components of the ecology. Embracing this reality can shift our perspective on ecological health, food production, and garden design. The act of re-wilding our city scapes, farms, community and home gardens with medicinal plants not only diversifies the local ecology, it also provides us with access to a rich, unhybridized, potent bled of phytonutrients that are essential for optimal health. As we learn about possible models, we will rediscover how internal and external ecologies are intimately connected, and how increased biodiversity yields true sustainability for both human and environment.
Guido Masé, Chief Herbalist, Urban Moonshine, Burlington, VT, author of "The Wild Medicine Solution: Healing With Aromatic, Bitter, and Tonic Plants"

One Medicine | One World: harmonizing with biological systems
As a culture we are (slowly) re-learning to appreciate and interact respectfully with the complex systems that are part of life, and we see this emerging in apparently unrelated fields. Conventional farming, like conventional medicine, diverged from health in the past 80 years, however with the development of biological systems science in both fields more holistic approaches are emerging to the fore that have tremendous impact on human and environmental health. Biological farming rests on similar principles to holistic medicine, and holistic and integrative clinicians are primed to support their patients and clients to embrace biologically grown food and to support biological farmer-growers. Seroya will present a systems model of health as a lens through which to explore the relationship between the farm ecosystem and human health. Expanding upon eight defining characteristics of living organisms, Seroya explains how the efficiency and integration of these properties can help optimize human, farm and ecosystem health. Seroya will present this as a way for various audiences – from farmer-growers to nutritionists to all interested in wellness – to conceptualize their health and/or environment and to identify areas for improvement.
Seroya Crouch, ND, Associate Director, AIHM Inter-professional Fellowship in Integrative Medicine, Adjunct Professor, College of Graduate and Professional Studies, University of Western States

Biophilia: a holistic approach to health through the interaction of humans and nature
The past few decades have greatly expanded the empirical evidence base for our understanding that contact with the natural world is essential for optimal human health and well-being. Using medical models of salutogenesis, allostasis and psychoneuroendocrinology, this session will explore the health-promoting qualities of biophilia, the inherent human affinity for living systems. Modern examples will demonstrate how connection with Nature is medically, psychologically, and socio- culturally beneficial for individuals, communities and ecosystems.
Kurt Beil, ND, NSOM, MPH, Principal Investigator, Helfgott Research Institute, National College of Natural Medicine

Water as a Carrier of Frequency Information
Water treated with an electromagnetic (EM) field is altered in physical, chemical and electrical properties. The phenomena of water memory refers to the fact that these changes last for weeks and months even after the EM field is removed. One popular theory to explain this memory phenomena is that “information” associated with an EM field, or a chemical, is stored in water clusters. The fact that water molecules spontaneously cluster together, or self-assemble, around chemicals (minerals, nutrients, etc) naturally present in the water. The term structured water has become popularized to refer to this phenomena, although technically all water is structured unless it is distilled (and all chemicals are removed). It is commonly believed that structured water is beneficial to the body. In most cases the clusters around bio-molecules in water are very large, thereby preventing the penetration of the biochemical through the cell membrane. Modern technology, however, can de-cluster water, so the biochemical and their surrounding water molecules can pass through the cell membrane. Biochemicals with only five water molecules are the most bioavailable. This presentation will review some technologies which claim to structure water. In addition, the ability of water clusters to carry frequency information associated with a biochemical will be discussed. EM fields have been demonstrated by numerous studies, including those by the author, to “imprint” water with the frequencies associated with the EM field. All biological systems, including plants, have the ability to “read” frequency information imprinted into water and respond by increasing yields and nutritional content of the plant.

Glen Rein, PhD, Quantum Biology Research Lab, Ridgway, CO

Healthy Soil, Healthy Gut
This talk explores the relationship between those microbes present in healthy soil and the human micro biome. Numerous organisms have been shown to play critical roles in human health and are more often absent than present in commercial agriculture and its inherent soil.

John Bagnulo, MPH, PhD, Center for Mind-Body Medicine

Healthy Soil, Healthy Food, Healthy YOU

Food as medicine is experiencing a revival. How do you select foods to improve your health and why? In this session, learn how taking charge of your personal health involves a community approach, from consuming a diversity of foods, knowing your food source, and working with your ecosystem.

Nourishing Resilience: uncovering our capacity to heal through dietary lifestyle changes
Most people would agree that food should nourish our bodies rather than contribute to disease and illness. However, we are not the only ones at the table. Speaking through the lens of a practitioner, patient and parent, this lecture will stimulate your thinking about the hidden connection between what we feed our microbiome and the role it plays in preventing and reversing chronic disease. Using food as our guide, we will explore the bacteria, beliefs and behaviors that shape our life and our capacity to heal.
Kathleen DiChiara, FDN-P, INHC, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner, Health Advocate, Nutrition Educator & Speaker, author of "The Hidden Connection, Founder: Rhode to Health, Inc."

How to Maximize Phytochemicals and Medicinal Qualities in an Herbal Harvest Through Management Techniques
Since most medicinal herbs are un-hybridized, wild plants, their soil requirements are very different than those of standard food crops. In fact, in many cases they prefer a more challenging environment, increasing the production of secondary metabolites (medicinal phytonutrients). There are some specific techniques that will maximize medicinal plant potency, while also diversifying and increasing the resilience of you farm or garden. Explore some - like herbs in buffer zones, for fallow fields, and in riparian or forest border zones. Understand the research behind maximizing phytonutrient density in medicinal plant cultivation.

Guido Masé, Chief Herbalist, Urban Moonshine, Burlington, VT, author of "The Wild Medicine Solution: Healing with Aromatic, Bitter, and Tonic Plants"

Uncovering the Healing Properties of Water Across Animals, Plants and People
Grower and health coach Phil Jones takes the listener through his journey in learning about, working with, and directing the energy contained in water to heal animals, plants and people. Pooling the combined wisdom of teachers, mentors and colleagues including Viktor Schauberger, Clayton Nolte, Gerald Pollack, John Ellis, Dan Nelson, The Positron Group at Wayward Water and Rich Price, Phil relays a practical perspective on how water properties can be altered using various structured water devices and will present case studies in which water structure and/ or energy has been associated with a change in wellness. Phil’ s current experimentation on irrigation strategies with structured water in vegetable crops and extensions to field use will also be discussed.

Phil Jones, Jones Farm, Chelmsford, MA

Generating a Regional Infrastructure for Healthy Food and Healthy People
Jean-Paul and Crystal will discuss the shifts in the Hudson Valley and beyond in how farmers relate to the land, their own health, and the food system. They will highlight a few existing and developing organizations and collaborations that allow for the creation of a more resilient agriculture. Discussion will center around Farm Hub’s work with ecology-based partners and local, state and federal agencies; the Pitney Farm Project’s work with local government and development agencies; and the Holistic Management International’s Beginning Women Farmer Project’s partnerships with Universities and farmer organizations.
Crystal Stewart, MS, Regional Vegetable Specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension;
Jean-Paul Courtens, Associate Director, Hudson Valley Food Hub, Local Economies Project

Glyphosate Use and Micronutrient/Phytonutrient Deficiencies: Impact on Human and Animal Health
The herbicide glyphosate disrupts pathways responsible for a plant's uptake of critical micronutrients as well as the plant's production of beneficial molecules that play pivotal roles in human disease processes.

John Bagnulo, MPH, PhD, Center for Mind-Body Medicine

Peopling the Farm
As wonderful as fertile soil, functional compost, and healthy animals might be, they aren't as important as enjoyable relationships. Recognizing different gifts and talents and then structuring enterprises with autonomy and performance-based compensation to leverage those strengths is certainly as valuable as building fertile soil. All the good food in the world doesn't compensate for tension at the table. Drawing from his many years working with parents, spouse, children, grandchildren, non-related staff, apprentices, and interns, Salatin jumps into the people part of the farm, a subject rarely discussed but perhaps more important than anything else--and more difficult. Be prepared to laugh, cry, and ponder.
Joel Salatin, Polyface Farm, Swoope, VA, author of "Folks, This Ain't Normal", "You Can Farm", and "Salad Bar Beef", among many others.

CSA Incentives: integrating local food and farms into community and workplace health and wellness
FairShare CSA Coalition will share its experience and best practices working with local HMOs and employers to offer wellness incentives for CSA. FairShare is a network of community supported agriculture (CSA) farmers and consumers in southern Wisconsin. We will share program examples and resources on various rebates and other incentives that can support health and wellness programs in partnership with local farms and the local food movement.
Erika Jones, MS, Founder, FairShare CSA Coalition

Novel Approaches to Soil Quality Improvement

Farming sustainably requires innovation... from the simple to the complex. In this session, practical strategies on how to improve soil quality and related ecosystems will be reviewed. An understanding of the implications that these practices can have on the environment at large will also be presented.

No Till Management Strategies

This workshop will be a romp through various techniques utilized to achieve high yields of vegetables from relatively small acreage while also building soils. No-till, soil fertility, cropping, money, cover-cropping, weed control, foliar fertilizers, and more...
Bryan O'Hara, Tobacco Road Farm, Lebanon, CT

Assessing Crop Nutrient Imbalances in Real-Time with Available Handheld Monitoring Tools
From my perspective, as growers, we all want to be able to assess the needs of our plants in order maximize our yields and to produce food of the highest quality and nutrition. Waiting on test results from the lab can leave you pacing the floor. Using in field monitoring tools to assess your plants’ immediate needs can bridge this gap during the waiting period. With the data collected and access to knowledge on healthy plant nutrition, you should be able to take, in the moment, nutrient focused, action steps to boost plant health and preserve your crop’s yield potential. In this session, we will review the some of the tools that are available to assess your crop’s state. Specifically, we will look at the use of Horiba LaQuaTwin pocket meters, refractometers, and digital thermometers. We will run through tool demonstrations and review accompanying data that has been collected from the in-field use of these instruments. We will also open the floor to a discussion to explore how building collective data sets with these tools can help benefit growers at large.
Faith Reeves, NTS-certified Nutrition Farmer™, Business Supported Ag Grower, Permaculturalist, Budding Soil & Plant Health Consultant

Carbon Farming: principle and practice
In the first half hour we will discuss the principles behind carbon sequestration in the farming system and why it is crucial to both soil health and environmental sustainability. We will also cover ways to measure your soil health and determine if your practices are being successful.
 For the final hour we will go into detail about the use of cover crops (cocktail and individual), no till, low till, green pathways, solarization, wood chips, cardboard, hay and leaves, bed turn over, inter-sowing, and embracing perennials on 3 acres of vegetables backed up by an acre of fruit, and pigs, cows, chickens and turkeys.

Jack Kittredge, author of "Carbon Restoration: Can Soil Biology Do the Job?";
Julie Rawson, certified organic farmer who has taken the no/low till carbon plunge

The Marriage of Soil, Plant and Animal Intensification Systems
Millions of farmers in over 50 countries are engaging in the practice of many counterintuitive agricultural methods that have been seen to break yield, quality, labor efficiency and soil saving records worldwide. Using the shared wisdoms of ancient practices and very recent discoveries from around the globe, it is possible to achieve peak soil health, food sovereignty, watershed repair and socio-economic stability. Mark will speak about “Paradoxical Agriculture”, where less is more, and how this is made possible by culturing mutualism across organisms. Mark will present a practicum on how to cultivate these interactions, providing details on soil and crop development as the season progresses, from “early childhood” to biological maturity. Particular attention will be given to the timing of particular practices, establishing biologically supportive inputs, and managing for zero waste.
Mark Fulford, Teltane Farm, Monroe, ME

Keynote Address

Seedstock: Picking for Performance
Orthodoxy says that if half a flock of chickens dies, we should vaccinate all of them – forever – to keep such a disaster from happening again. Heretics suggest that breeding the survivors will eventually create stronger immunological function. At Polyface Farm, wellness performance, without any intervention, is the basis for breeding selection. Improved health across the production spectrum takes time
and observation, but weaning a farm from intervention strategies ultimately brings
more production, pleasure, and profits.

Joel Salatin, Polyface Farm, Swoope, VA, author of "Folks, This Ain't Normal", "You Can Farm", and "Salad Bar Beef", among many others.

Note: Due to limited room capacity, there is priority seating in the main hall for the first 300 registrants for Joel Salatin's keynote speech, Monday night, December 5, 7-9pm. This keynote and all opening and closing plenary sessions will offer overflow seating with satellite video viewing in Shadowbrook room.