2021 Sessions


Sacred Cow Film Q&A

Presenter: Diana Rodgers, Director & Producer

Join us for a question and answer session with director, Diana Rodgers, on this film focusing on making the case for better meat. Sacred Cow probes the fundamental moral, environmental and nutritional quandaries we face in raising and eating animals. The film will be available to all registered attendees from Jan 15-25th, to be viewed at your leisure. This question and answer session will last 30 mins. We look forward to kicking off the conference with you on Thursday evening from 6:30-7pm Mountain time.


Behind the Scenes of Organic Seed

Presenter: Sara Riegler

The goal of this session is to provide farmers with insight into the way the organic seed industry works. Although seed is one of the primary inputs on any organic farm, farmers often do not have access to information regarding where their seed comes from, how and by whom it is produced, factors that drive availability and pricing, and challenges and opportunities in organic seed production. As climate change and the unique challenges of organic farming drive farmer interest in adaptable vegetable varieties, we think it is important to shed light on what is happening in the organic seed world to meet these challenges. Topics covered will include organic variety development and product “pipelines”, partnerships and collaborations among seed industry players, current seed production challenges, and post-COVID seed availability concerns. There will be ample Q&A opportunity to discuss organic varieties of interest with farmers in attendance and to hear directly from farmers about their experiences with seed companies and/or seed availability.   

It Takes a Community: place, purpose and power in landscape, stewardship, and conservation.

Presenter: Melanie Kirby

Despite our distinct differences as peoples, growers, and consumers, there is a thread of continuity that unites our needs, our hopes and, our abilities. There are also threads that extend from the soil to the flora, from the forests to the farms, from habitat to nutrition and, from the field to the fork. Our regional worlds are part of a larger multiverse- a system of systems whose cogs turn each other day after day, hour by hour. Reflecting on bees and pollinators as a parallel metaphor for our societal interactions, this discussion will acknowledge our roles and responsibilities, how we can become more aware of the challenges facing the various facets of our biodiversity and how can we weave the various threads into an inclusive and equitable tapestry that reconciles and regenerates for now and future generations.

Understanding Climate Change Impacts on Our Food Systems

Presenter: Jennie DeMarco

Climate change directly affects both our food quality and productivity. High temperatures can lead to plant stress, an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations can decrease the nutritional value of food, and more extreme weather events such as drought and flooding can decrease yields. These impacts threaten our food systems, with small farms being especially vulnerable. It does not all have to be doom and gloom. With a comprehensive understanding of how these changes impact food production and a collaboration across farms we can come up with creative solutions to adapt and thrive under a changing climate. Dr. DeMarco will discuss current climate change threats to our food system and introduce case studies as examples of where farmers have developed creative solutions to adapt and thrive.

Irrigation Methods That Work

Presenter: Steve Ela

Water is essential to life. Knowing how to apply water for your operation, what systems will work best, and understanding how timing affects plant growth are important pieces of irrigation success. Steve will walk you through his experiences with different irrigation methods ranging from furrow to drip, and the effectiveness of different filtration systems that accompanied those methods. Each type of irrigation and filtration has pros and cons–knowing what works best for your farm and water supply is essential to your productivity and profitability. Steve will include assessment strategies and methods for testing soil moisture during this session.

The Colorado Collaborative for Healthy Soils: a community approach to cultivate sustainable solutions

Presenters: Helen Silver, Megan Machmuller, Jim Ippolito, and Max Neumeyer

Soil health is the foundation for regenerative and sustainable agriculture, yet several barriers hinder our ability to achieve soil health benefits at scale. Multiple states have passed and implemented policies to promote the use of soil health practices, but Colorado does not yet have such a program. The Colorado Collaborative for Healthy Soils (CCHS) has brought together stakeholders from Colorado’s agricultural communities to explore ways that soil health practices can be recognized, incentivized and promoted at a statewide level. In this session, we will discuss CCHS efforts to establish a Colorado soil health program that promotes soil health education, encourages voluntary adoption of soil health practices, increases producer profitability, and advances the scientific understanding of soil health.

Unlocking Our Regional Food System

Presenters: Mitch Bennett, Barry Pennell & Shawn Gardener

How can farmers and ranchers unlock the potential of locally grown food by engaging in strategic business alliances? How can agri-food processors, distributors and retail enterprises better serve the Western Slope? Is a digital ecosystem part of the answer for your agri-business? Explore these questions in a session focused on how a food network can accelerate and drive innovation as ENGAGE (Entrepreneurial Growth in Agriculture & Energy) and Valley Food Partnership roll out a USDA Regional Food System Partnership planning grant and solicit your ideas. To learn more about the partnership and its activities please get involved before or after the FFF by joining our work group at westslopefood.org

Virtual Happy Hour: Fermenting Relationships

Presenters: Cat Neville, Lance Hanson, Steve Ela, Fortunate Fruits & more!

Come relax & listen while sharing a glass of your favorite local wine, brew or spirit with Colorado growers, distillers, wine makers and brewers.  Nationally recognized journalist, Cat Neville, host of the PBS show tasteMAKERS will lead this conversation sharing stories and insights from our talented grower and maker community!


Keynote Address: Hope for Humanity in Holistic Management

Presented by: Allan Savory, The Savory Institute

Allan Savory received the Buckminster Fuller Institute’s award for work that has, “significant potential to solve humanity’s most press problems” and Australia’s International Banksia award, “for the person doing the most for the environment on a global scale.” His keynote will address the crucial role holistic decision-making plays in the production of food through the complexity of institutions, nature and economies. Learn how agriculture can shift from being a major contributor to climate change to playing a significant role in combating it through food security while regenerating communities, environment and economies. 

Making Small Farms Work

Presenter: Richard Perkins

Richard will be sharing the key strategies and approaches that have led to the rapid implementation of Ridgedale Farm into a debt-free profitable mixed farm, despite the challenging economy, regulation and climate up at 59°N in Sweden. Walking you through key elements of decision-making and planning, Richard will share insights from the primary farm enterprises and look at sales and management as well as the financials.

Utilizing Nature’s Energy to Achieve Animal Performance

Presenter: Ian Mitchell-Innes

Ian will share his years of experience working with ruminants and his knowledge as a Holistic Educator. He has learned the old fashioned way–through trial and error, and loves sharing what he has learned with people all over the world. In Ian’s words, “If you make a living off the land, you are in the energy business. The closer you work with NATURE, the more money is left in your pocket. Land is a solar panel and the efficiency of that solar panel is dependent on the plants you grow there. Diversity equals stability.”

Grain and the Art of Cooperation

Presenters: Liz Carlisle, Andy Clark, Nanna Meyer, Kris Gosar, Sarah Jones & George Cheney

Nothing lends better to cooperation, community building, and culinary satisfaction than Heritage Grain! In 2019 the Colorado Grain Chain formed as a membership organization of farmers, millers, bakers, chefs, malsters, brewers, distillers, educators, dieticians, and community members dedicated to building a value chain centered on ancient and heritage grain. Join Nanna Meyer, Andy Clark, Kris Gosar, Sarah Jones and special guest Liz Carlisle for a lively discussion about the links and strengths of the Colorado Grain Chain.