2021 Sessions


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: the intersection of 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.


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.”