California Farm Conference November 17-19, 2000
Hello. I have included below both the Calendar Announcement and an article
we would like to submit for inclusion in your organization's publication or
newsletter. The California Farm Conference is attracting increasing crowds
statewide, nationally and internationally. Many farmers benefit from the
hands-on, practical information provided in the workshops; many educators,
market managers and policy advocates come together to form new alliances.
Detailed program information should be available by next week, including a
complete listing of workshops, speakers and short courses. If you have any
questions, just let me know.
Many thanks for your consideration and support,
Public Relations coordinator
California Farm Conference
What: 16th Annual California Farm Conference
Theme: Healthy Farms - Healthy Communities: Ingredients for Success
When: November 17-19, 2000
Where: Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa, CA
Cost: Range: Half Day Short Course $25; Basic 2-Day Registration: $90
Information & Registration: Phone: (530) 888-9206
Press Contact: Michael Straus, 415-663-8343, email: Info@BeyondOrganic.com
Over 40 seminars, workshops, short courses and tours, on topics including:
Specialty Crops and Products, Crop and Livestock production, Sustainable
Farming Practices, Farmers Markets, Farm and Food Policy, and Education
about Family Farms and Food Systems
Program features include:
· Tours in Sonoma County, focusing on sustainable agricultural techniques,
innovative marketing and nurseries
· Short Courses on Agri-Nature Tourism, Sustainable Grape Production,
Improving the Farmer-Retailer relationship, and Biotechnology
· Speakers from throughout the Bay Area and California
· The Shone Farm, SRJC Demonstration Farm, including organic vineyards
· Regional Wine & Food Tasting, featuring the bounty of the North Bay
Sponsors include: Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Occidental Arts &
Ecology Center, UC Small Farm Center, UC Cooperative Extension, Santa Rosa
Junior College, Golden Gate Marketing Association, USDA Farm Service Agency,
USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, Southland Farmers Market
Association, Southern Sonoma County Resource Conservation District
California Farm Conference is a non-profit organization dedicated to
promoting the long-term viability of California's family farms. The 1999
Farm Conference, held in Berkeley, attracted over 700 participants.
Healthy Farms - Healthy Communities
By Lila Purinton
SANTA ROSA, Calif. - California’s farmers will not only be working the land
this fall. They’ll also be establishing roots - in the local communities.
Growers and agricultural leaders from around the Golden State will gather in
Santa Rosa, California, in November with an important mission: to create a
connection between farms and the communities they serve.
“Unless you have local farming that's available to your community, you’re
not going to have the richest food source available,” says Donna Dold, an
ostrich rancher in San Joaquin County who is also helping to organize the
2000 California Farm Conference. “Keeping our food local will build a
stronger and healthier community,” she says.
In its 16th year, the conference will focus on keeping that connection alive
and successful. Family farmers, market managers, researchers, educators and
others in the food industry will participate in dozens of workshops and
tours designed to stimulate growth and support for local growers, and the
food they produce.
“The California Farm Conference is really focusing on family farmers and
what it is going to take to have (them) stay out there and keep farming,”
says David Visher, who has coordinated the conference in the past.
"Part of keeping small and family farmers in the business is giving them the
tools to survive in an industry that is increasingly going corporate and
global," according to Tom Haller, this year’s conference coordinator, and
former executive director of the California-based CAFF, the Community
Alliance with Family Farmers. “A lot of small farmers have been brainwashed
to think that they’re merely unsuccessful or incomplete big farmers,” Haller
In reality, family farmers give more to their communities economically and
socially than corporate businesses. In an article published in the summer
200 edition of Yes! magazine, US Senator Byron Dorgan stated, “A
family-based enterprise such as a farm produces more than corn or wheat. It
also produces a community. One might say is has a social product as well as
a material product, and this social product is especially significant in a
country that has more stuff than it knows what to do with, but less
community and social cohesion than it needs.”
Smaller farmers can also cultivate better connections to the communities
they serve with smaller, more direct marketing efforts “People want to buy
more organic, or at least (healthful) local foods,” explains Haller. “You
find the people to whom this issue is important and you try to involve those
people. You have to use your imagination and reach out to them.”
Reaching out has always been a recurring theme of the California Farm
Conference. Started in 1982, the conference became an instant success,
providing much-needed information and networking to the state’s small and
specialty crop farmers and direct marketing leaders. Growers have used the
conference to innovate their operations with new crops and varieties,
value-added products and marketing ideas. “Getting your stuff to the place
where it’s going to be valued... is really important,” Haller says.
Consumers have also been embracing the same philosophy in California, where
the number of farmers’ markets and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
programs has been growing almost exponentially.
“When I started (managing markets) there were about 40 to 50 markets in the
state,” said Lynn Bagley, who runs the Golden Gate Farmers’ Market
Association and has helped coordinate different aspects of the farm
conference since the late 1980s. “Now there’s more than 100 in the Bay Area
alone. You can see the change in the conference, where interest in direct
marketing has been growing tremendously," adds Bagley.
Those farmers’ markets have been an inspiration to farmers across the
nation, including Sidney Talley, a vegetable grower in Ripley, Tennessee.
After attending the farm conference in 1999, Talley went back to the Memphis
area and started a string of markets - which the locals are quickly
embracing. “My markets last week were 300 to 400 percent better than they
were the week before,” says Talley. “It’s just bigger and better each time.”
Upon gathering information about CSAs at last year’s conference in Berkeley,
California, Talley also decided to start a similar “gourmet box” program. “I
think it’s the way of the future,” he says.
While catering primarily to farmers and members of the agricultural
industry, the California Farm Conference has also opened its doors to
community and environmental leaders, politicians and the general public. A
dinner or tasting is usually the highlight of the conference - giving the
host city an opportunity to show off its produce. Last year’s Farm-City
Dinner fed a sell-out crowd of over 430 people. This year, a special
Farmers Market-style tasting event is scheduled.
“It’s a tradition that lets farmers know what they’re doing is important -
not only to them, but to the locals as well,” Bagley says. As local foods
also receive more recognition, so do the growers. Fine restaurants have
shown increasing interest in giving credit to local growers by using their
names on menus.
Such continued support of family farms is bound to create a better industry
and community. According to Sen. Dorgan, “This mode of agriculture promotes
healthy rural communities and husbandry of the land as well."
The 2000 California Farm Conference will be held Nov. 17 - 19 at the Santa
Rosa Junior College in Santa Rosa, California. Conducted under the theme
Healthy Farms - Healthy Communities: Ingredients for Success, the three-day
event will feature several respected speakers from the farm community.
Workshops will focus around specialty crops, crop and livestock production,
sustainable farming, farmers’ markets, farm and food policy, marketing and
For more information about this year’s conference, check out the event
website at www.californiafarmconference.com or call (530) 888-9206.
Lila Purinton is a former Associate Publisher and Advertising Director at
Mother Jones and Medical SelfCare magazines. She is currently working as a
consultant with Beyond Organic, an agro-environmental advocacy firm in Point
Reyes, CA. Her husband is an organic farmer.
Note to Editors: Permission is granted to reprint or adapt this article for
Michael Straus, Director
Beyond Organic - Public Relations and Marketing
* Agriculture * Environment * Community *
22890 Highway 1, Marshall, CA 94940
Phone: 415/663-8343 | Fax: 415/663-8346
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