Attendance reached 2,400 at the 19th annual Organic Farming Conference hosted by MOSES – the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service.
From February 21st through the 23rd, farmers, researchers, exhibitors and volunteers came together to not only celebrate organic farming, but to continue to learn about new techniques and advances.
Joyce Ford, the MOSES board of directors president said workshops are something people can participate in, they don’t just sit there and listen to the presenters. Farmers that have recently transitioned to organic can learn a lot from the experienced farmers and might be back one day presenting.
The conference included 60 workshops, 130 exhibitors and 30 university and farmer researchers presenting at the Organic Research Symposium, a new feature of this year’s conference. Each keynote speaker presented to a full crowd of attendees.
“The Next Generation of Organic Farmers and Researchers” was the kick-off keynote presentation on Thursday night. Three young agriculturists shared their unique stories about how they got involved in organic agriculture and their plans for the future.
Each year MOSES presents an award to an outstanding organic farmer. This year Gary, Rosie and Nicholas Zimmer of Otter Creek Organic Farm, received the 2008 Farmer of the Year Award Friday at the keynote presentation. The Zimmers manage 1,200 acres of organic crops, including alfalfa, grass forages, corn, soybeans, canning peas, oats, barley, and rye. They also milk 200 cows, have 50 dry cows, 300 heifers, 100 beef cattle, and 100 pasture-raised feeder pigs. It is an exemplary diversified organic farming operation.
Melinda Hemmelgarn was the keynote speaker on Friday. Her presentation “The Illusion of Choice: Finding Good Food, Food Truth and Justice for All” discussed what is a “healthy” diet and the connection between our health and the food we eat.
On Saturday, environmental activist, author and lawyer Andrew Kimbrell gave the final keynote presentation, “Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture.” Kimbrell’s latest book, “Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food,” gives readers a how-to guide for being creators instead of just consumers.
Faye Jones, MOSES executive director said, “The conference was incredibly successful, it just seems to get better every year. I’m already looking forward to next year.”
Preparation has already started for next year, the 20th Anniversary of the Organic Farming Conference.
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