veggie rows header images


9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.


Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

John Mesko, Executive Director, Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota

Keynote Address: The Climate and You: What Will You Be Producing in the Future?
Science and historic patterns are drawn together to give us a clearer sense of what we can learn from what has happened, and what we can expect in the future with weather and climate--which have the greatest impact upon what we produce now and in the future.

PRESENTER: Mark Seeley, University of Minnesota Climatologist


12:45-4:30 p.m.

Come and Go Seed Swap
Bring your seeds to share, swap and barter at the Annual Seed Swap. New to seed swapping or seed exchange? This will be a great opportunity to talk with experts from the Seed Savers Exchange.

10:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Advanced Grazing Workshop
As one of the GrazeFest series of events, SFA's Livestock and Grazing Specialist, Kent Soberg, moderates this day-long workshop that features a roster of experts to take you to the next level with your pastures and livestock.

PRESENTERS: Dr. Allen Williams of Grass Fed Beef, LLC, will discuss trends and opportunities in grass-finished beef production, as well as advanced pasture and forage management techniques for grass based livestock systems.
Howard Moechnig, owner of Midwest Grasslands, former NRCS Grazing Specialist, and author of "Improving and Sustaining Forage Producation in Pastures." will address considerations for finishing beef cattle on pasture and forages.
Keith Kloubec
, a District Conservationist with the Carver County NRCS office, will present a session entitled "Pasture management and Soil Health."
Kent Solberg,
SFA Livestock and Grazing Specialist, will discuss profit opportunities for pasture based livestock systems.


Concurrent Sessions - 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

The Light at the End of the High (and Low) Tunnel
In this session you will identify plants that make the most of your investment in labor and cash. You'll hear about specific industry examples that will lead you through the questions you need to ask to find out if adding a high tunnel or low tunnel to your operation is a good idea. You'll discuss just how long of a season extension makes sense in order to realize a profit. Discover what sorts of challenges there are for growing plants in this setting. Explore what issues you'll have with disease and insects. Find out which varieties work best in this setting.

PRESENTERS: Terry Nennich, University of Minnesota Extension; Michelle Grabowski, University of Minnesota Extension

Specialty Crops Business Management
Part of SFA's "New Crops Project"

Concurrent Sessions - 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

The Meaning of Organic: All Your Questions Answered
"Organic" means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Strip away the confusion of terms and find out just what organic means from those who truly know, including an expert from Midwest Organic Services Association (MOSA), an organic inspector, and an organic farmer.

PRESENTERS: Chris Barnier; organic inspector; Anne O'Connor, MOSA Marketing and Communications Manager;

Sustainable Farming Essentials
Are you new to sustainable farming?  Curious about what it is?  Interested in talking with others about sustainable farming? Here's a session about the fundamental philosophy of sustainable agriculture that will present some real-world examples, as well as examples of what it is not. This is a great way to start your excursion into the breakout sessions and will help you sift through all the information, labels and acronyms you'll encounter at this conference.

PRESENTERS: Chris Kudrna, Farmer and Past President, SFA Board of Directors; John Mesko, Farmer and Executive Director of SFA; Jerry Ford, Farmer and SFA Events Coordinator

Concurrent Sessions - 1:15-2:45 p.m.

Urban Land Access: Update from the Front
A conversation with John Brosnan, Project Manager, Minnesota Land Trust and chair of the Twin Cities Agricultural Land Trust advisory board. John will describe the current state of land access for urban agriculture use, challenges, opportunities, and the current efforts underway by the Twin Cities Agricultural Land Trust.

What's All the Buzz? Pollinators and Your Crop Future
Marla Spivak has received national and global attention for her understanding of and the results of her research on honey bees and the critical role they play in our food crop production. She will reveal current understanding of what is going on in those hives, and talk with you about what immediate action can be taken to increase the presence and vigor of pollinators in our food production plans and actions.

PRESENTER: Marla Spivak, MacArthur Fellow and McKnight Distinguished University Professor, the Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota

Aquaponics: Sink or Swim
Find out the essentials of what aquaponics offers for food production. Is there a place for it in your operation? How can it fit into your farming methods?

PRESENTERS: Dr. John Erwin, Professor, Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota; Chad Hebert, Urban Farm Project

Eat Your Veggies - Anti-Cancer  Crops
There is a lot of information in the media about which plants can prevent which disease. What claims are valid, and which are empty promises? Find out what the latest research is saying about the chemo-preventive properties of plants. Can the phytochemicals that plants produce interrupt the process of carcenogenesis in our bodies?  If so, which chemicals are effective, and what plants contain these chemicals?  Do some plant varieties have more of these desirable phytochemicals than others?  Can you make any health claims in your marketing materials about these plants?

PRESENTER: Charlie Rohwer, University of Minnesota

Concurrent Sessions - 3:00-4:30 p.m.

Rural and Urban Ag Connecting Through the Food System
Where in the food system can rural and urban ag efforts align for the greatest impact on the health of people and the planet, AND generate income along the way? Michael Ableman will share examples of success from his travels and direct experience. A conversation with the audience will follow - looking for local ways to apply the examples.

MODERATOR: Seitu Jones
: Michael Ableman, Collie Graddick (invited), Paku Her (invited)

Getting the Word Out: How Farmers Can Harness Social Media for Marketing
Increasingly, farm marketing involves use of social media tools that reach customers in a faster, more effective way than traditional strategies like brochures and email. But for those who aren't well versed in these technologies, it can be challenging to harness them effectively. In this presentation, beginning farmers Karla Pankow and Elizabeth Millard describe how they used social media to build up a customer base and sell out their first-year CSA for their farm, Bossy Acres. They share insights on how farmers can develop a "story" for their farms, reach more customers through Facebook and Twitter, and integrate social media into other marketing efforts.

MODERATOR: Jason Walker
: Karla Pankow and Elizabeth Millard of Bossy Acres

Sizing and Scaling the Farm Business for Success

Are You Ready to Hop into Hops?
The burgeoning boutique and artisanal beer movement has swept the country, and its growth is particularly strong in Minnesota and the Midwest. Get a glimpse at hop research at the University of Minnesota, including varieties resistant to powdery mildew and other diseases. Find out just what sort of profit potential truly exists with growing hops. Discover the potential for the "wet hops" market. The panel will cover variety selection, growing techniques, and what you need to know to talk with a brewer.

PRESENTERS: Charlie Rohwer, University of Minnesota, hops researcher; Bob Jones, The Farm on St Mathias, hops producer; Matt Hall, Lift Bridge Brewing Co.

4:30-5:30 - End-of-Day "Afterglow"
Cash bar and a few treats offered while you meet with old and new connections to talk about the day.

SATURDAY, February 16

9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.


PRESENTERS: Ed Schneider, Director Minnesota Landscape Arboretum; John Mesko, Executive Director, Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota

Keynote Address

PRESENTER: Michael Ableman


10:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m.

Come and Go Seed Swap
Bring your seeds to share, swap and barter at the Annual Seed Swap. New to seed swapping or seed exchange? This will be a great opportunity to talk with experts from the Seed Savers Exchange.

11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Mary Jane Miller's Culinary Workshop

Click here for individual topics

Concurrent Sessions - 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Seed Saving - The Basics and Way Beyond
Start your own seed legacy in your business and family.  Shannon Carmody of Seed Savers Exchange will inform how saving seed can help the health of our environment, maintain genetic diversity, and positively impact your financial bottom line.  In addition, she will share specifics of seed saving - a "how-to" primer that includes resources for learning more on your own. This in-depth seed saving workshop focuses on the biological and ecological requirements for seed saving.  The class will cover isolation and population requirements and methods, as well as seed processing and storage.  We will also discuss more challenging crops such as biennials, and out-crossers.  Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit, member supported organization that saves and shares the heirloom seeds of our garden heritage, forming a living legacy that can be passed down through generations.

PRESENTER: Shannon Carmody, Public Programs Manager, Seed Savers Exchange

The State of Meat Processing in Minnesota

PRESENTER: Jane Jewett

Farmer-to-Farmer Network Session 1: Creative Financing
Are you a small to mid-sized farmer or food producer who has faced challenges accessing capital to expand or start your business? Do you have experiences with creative or alternative financing that could help others? Share your needs and knowledge in this highly interactive format that goes beyond roundtables and panel discussions.

This session is part of an ongoing project of Renewing the Countryside and On the Commons that has the goal of gathering details about these issues, barriers and opportunities, and to share the wisdom of the community so that we can help each other to find effective ways of overcoming the obstacles to sustainability.

PRESENTER: Steven Read, Shepherd's Way Farms
FACILITATOR: Jan Joannides, Renewing the Countryside

Farmer-to-Farmer Network Session 2: Farmers Facing Challenges & Change
Farming is a difficult business; and new farmers particularly struggle to get started. Many new farms need to make adjustments early in their development in order to stay in business. This highly interactive session is a collaboration with SFA's Adjust 2015 project, which is designed to collect the stories of such farms and incorporate them into educational programs that help new farmers to be better prepared. Share your needs, experience and knowledge in this "fishbowl" session, a format that goes beyond roundtables and panel discussions.

: Brandon Wiarda, Josh Reinitz, Amelia Neaton, Nick Neaton

11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Forum: The Role of a Twin Cities Ag Alliance
Michael Ableman will share some successful models of urban ag organizations, and how they can support a local market. A brief history and update on the status of the Twin Cities Urban Ag Alliance will be presented. A facilitated discussion about how (if) these models can be applied locally, and what actions are needed to re-engage our community around the idea will follow

PRESENTER: Michael Ableman
Peggy Knapp

Concurrent Sessions - 1:15-2:45 p.m.

Adding Value with Integrity: Animal Welfare Approved Certification
Consumers face a bewildering range of terms and claims used to promote and label food. Demand for sustainably produced food continues to grow, and with it the widespread use of confusing - and sometimes highly misleading - food label terms and claims. AWA has come to be a highly regarded food label when it comes to animal welfare, pasture-based farming and sustainability. Join Eve Cohen as she demonstrates the how-to of certifying your farm, and demonstrates how certification and effective labeling can help you stand out in the marketplace and ensure that you are clearly communicating the benefits to customers. Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) is a national nonprofit organization that audits, certifies and supports farmers raising their animals according to the highest welfare standards, outdoors on pasture or range. 

PRESENTER: Eve Cohen, Farmer and Market Outreach Coordinator for Animal Welfare Approved (AWA)

Who's Next? Farm Succession and Transfer
A presentation of The Farm Transition Project of Renewing the Countryside and the Sustainable Farming Association, this session seeks to Increase dialogue and knowledge around farm transitions, and to assist farm families in identifying their goals and values, and ultimately to get a transition plan in place. Attorney Brian Schoenborn focuses on family businesses, including farms. Brian's experience includes business acquisitions and sales, business succession planning, and estate planning.

PRESENTERS: Brett Olson, Renewing the Countryside; Brian Schoenborn, Managing Partner, Leonard, Street and Deinard, St. Cloud

Beyond Butternut: A New Look at Squash and Pumpkins
Jenny and John Thull have earned the reputation of being the regional experts on pumpkins, squash, and gourds. Their work with cucurbits is mind-blowing, to say the least, and would even put the Great Pumpkin to shame. What they have learned during their years of testing and trying hundreds of varieties of these delectable plants will offer you a new way of looking at the squash you grow and sell. There is a whole world beyond the butternut, and consumers are anxious and ready to try these new varieties in their kitchen. Find out what would grow best for you, how to talk about their preparation with your customers, and why orange is this year's black (green?) for the growing season.

PRESENTERS: Jenny and John Thull

Minnesota Food Charter Input Session
The Minnesota Food Charter is a document developed through a broad-based public process that expresses a clear and compelling vision for how all residents can obtain healthy, affordable, and safe food. This public process includes events hosted by diverse groups around the state to gather input for the Food Charter. The feedback generated from these events will inform the creation of priorities and related actions that will make the healthy, affordable choice the easy choice for everyone across Minnesota. The Minnesota Food Charter Event is designed for participants to:
(1) learn about the Minnesota Food Charter;
(2) identify barriers and strategies associated with healthy food access; and
(3) have the opportunity to discuss healthy food access with each other.

FACILITATOR: Betsy Wieland, Agriculture Extension Educator

Concurrent Sessions - 3:00-4:30 p.m.

Cold Climate Grape Growing
Grape varieties developed by the esteemed Elmer Swenson and those by the University of Minnesota are taking cold climate grape production to new levels of profitability. Learn about the varieties that perform well in our cold climate. Discover which new varieties are offering the greatest promise to the burgeoning wine making industry in our region. Gain understanding about the fruit of the vine from viticultural and enological points of view. We are, indeed, at the point where it doesn't make people laugh when we look at Minnesota being the next Washington state in the wine making world.

PRESENTERS: John and Jenny Thull; Peter Hemstad, Hinterland Vineyard and Winery (invited)

Edible Landscapes
Emily Tepe's new book, The Edible Landscape, has just launched, and author Emily Tepe is receiving great reviews. You'll discover how her approach to making your landscape not only beautiful but a true food-production center is getting such popular acclaim.


New Garlic Diseases: The Latest from the Experts
Garlic had a rough year in 2012 throughout the upper midwest. First, we became increasingly aware of the threat from Garlic Bloat Nematode, and Minnesota Garlic Festival developed a testing procedure with the U of M Plant Disease Clinic. Then crops began to fail or weaken in June, and Dimitre Mollov discovered another culprit: an unprecedented infection of Aster Yellows Phytoplasma. Mollov will be joined by University of Minnesota Extension Educator, Michelle Grabowski, and garlic researcher/soil scientist, Dr. Carl Rosen, in a session that will cover the current state of pathology in Minnesota garlic and will project the possible outcomes for next season. There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion, moderated by garlic grower Chris Kudrna of Plum Creek Garlic. This session is produced as an educational outreach program of Minnesota Garlic Festival.

MODERATOR: Chris Kudrna, garlic farmer
PRESENTERS: Dr. Dimitre Mollov, University of Minnesota Plant Disease Clinic; Michelle Grabowski, University of Minnesota Extension Educator; and Dr. Carl Rosen, University of Minnesota Soil Scientist

4:30-5:30 - End-of-Day "Afterglow"
Cash bar and a few treats offered while you meet with old and new connections to talk about the day.



rows of veggie crops

Michael Ableman head shot

Miller and Doyle demo

Vine Park Brewing Co.

Handeen Doyle and Rutter