2019 Conference Sessions

Updated Jan. 27, 2019

Crops track

High Tunnel Vegetable Production - Joe Masabni

Advantages and disadvantages of high tunnel production in Texas will be discussed. Results of Dr. Masabni's field research on high tunnels will be presented addressing latest work on grafted tomato and Asian vegetable trials.

Organic Production of Perennial Fruits and the Sustainable Fruit Project - Stephen Janak

This presentation will discuss the potential for growing perennial fruits and nuts using organic production practices. We will address the fruits best suited for organic production in Texas, challenges to expect, and methods to help overcome these challenges. We will also have an overview of a new initiative from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: The Sustainable Fruit Project. 

Agile Agriculture: Embracing Continous Improvement in Farming Systems - Richard Hasting

Constant improvements to your farm processes and systems are critical to the quality and quantity of your farm products. Richard will review lessons learned in the software industry and how he has applied them to the farming business. He will discuss his techniques for determining which processes to improve, how to determine return on investment, and how to make our farms more productive--and fun--by embracing continuous change.

The Joys of Brassicas - Pamela Hornby & Joe Masabni
Pamela Hornsby will share everything she has learned about growing brassicas, from choosing the correct variety for your planting zone, how to start seedlings, crop timing, as well as some of the challenges you will face. Joe Masabni will round-out this session with some of Texas A&M AgriLife's findings from field testing varieties of bok choi and tatsoi in various conditions around Texas.

Beyond the Salad Bowl - Glen Miracle
Small vegetable farms are trying to find their niche while competing with the industrial food system that offers cheap food - low in nutrition and environmentally unfriendly. Many small growers are adopting a scaled-down version of the industrial model, repeatedly mono-cropping one to three crops on the same soil, and selling to a limited customer base. The advantage the small farmer has is flexibility, and we need to offer variety, nutrient density, and some excitement to the customers and to the soil. 

Cover Crops/ Crop Rotation - Glen Miracle
The soil is a complex living thing. Nature, undisturbed by man, constantly regenerates it, but farmers often work against nature. We can mimic nature and support the soil with crop rotation and cover crops. These simple and cost effective measures can feed the soil, attract beneficial insects, and suppress weeds.

Livestock track

Parasite Management in Sheep & Goats - Reid Redden
Internal parasites are the single largest health issue for sheep and goats. General information about the lifecycle of internal parasites and its impact on sheep and goat health will be covered. Best management practices to control parasitism will be discussed, including alternative dewormers, genetic selection, and grazing management.

Pasture Resilience - Jamie Foster
Extreme weather, population growth, and resource limitations have potential to negatively impact the current and future viability of forage-livestock systems. Resilience allows for pastures to maintain function through detrimental weather events and times of resource limitation. This session explains tools for increasing the resiliency of pasture systems with a focus on southern Texas.

Home Health Checks for Goat Producers - Ashley Pellerin
In this session, you will learn how to assess the health of your goats by learning simple, hands on health checks. From checking the heart beat, listening to the rumen, checking for anemia, hoof care, how to give shots, and more. Come see what to check, before you call the vet!

Effective Fencing For Your Operation - Joe Hilliard
When it comes to the farm there are many, many fencing options to consider. Different materials, aesthetics, choosing a contractor, doing it yourself, how do you know which options to choose? Join fence industry veteran, Joe Hilliard, to learn the basics, the best building methods, and why doing it yourself is the least expensive option (if you build it right the first time). Joe will share the specifications that he prefers for simple perimeter demarcation for cattle/horse containment and elaborate chicken runs.

Getting the Most Out of Your Goat - Rene’ McCracken & Ashley Pellerin
Join Rene' and Ashley to learn how to take your goat from the farm to the market. We will evaluate various market avenues and discuss how to hit the right sales. We will also review strategies for direct marketing your goats and goat products.

Is Multi-Species Grazing Right for You? - Erin Kimbrough
Tired of weeds? Multi-species grazing is one sustainable solution for pasture management that can help make the most of your available resources, reduce unwanted plant species, and reduce parasite loads in your livestock. Learn about multi-species grazing system models, key benefits, important factors to consider, practical implementation tips, and some what-not-to-dos.

Business and marketing track

You Can't Manage What You Don't Know: Tracking Money and Information on Your Farm - Ellen Polishuk
The business of farming requires paperwork and data tracking - we have to earn the right to keep farming every year! What's it take to keep "the books" on your farm? When should you get help? What records do you need so you can make important management decisions from one season to the next?

Finding The Right Financing For Your Farm or Food Business - Eric de Valpine & Tim Traister
The goal of this workshop is to help small, sustainable, food entrepreneurs better understand their business, profits, and the funding and lending landscape. We'll discuss financial basics and dive into funding sources available to small business owners, including their advantages and pitfalls, and how to get started. Our presenters have years of experience working with farms, ranches, and entrepreneurs on financing and business strategies - so bring your questions and case studies to discuss!

Beyond Fresh: Will Value-Added Processing Increase Your Profits? - Sue Beckwith
What are the opportunities for value-added processing for your farm or ranch? How do you decide whether to process your products? What are the best practices and how do you make a profit? This session will get you the information you need to make the right decision for your farm and your family. Sue will introduce the new workbook from NCAT, Beyond Fresh, a guide to value-added processing for Texas farms.

Financial Resilience - Scott Marlow
How ready is your farm to bounce back financially from the next hurricane? This workshop will provide tools for you to assess and address your farm’s financial resilience, looking at crop and market diversification, timing of income throughout the year, level of borrowing, savings and reserves. We will also address in-farm and federal program resilience options, including Whole Farm Revenue crop insurance.

Preparing to Sprout: Opportunities to Start Your Small Farm - Central Texas Young Farmers Coalition (Carolina Mueller, Leah Gibson, Derek Emadi, Hannah Beall, and Sue Beckwith)
Check out this panel of new and beginning farmers and farm-adjacent folks. Their purpose is to change the narrative that barriers faced by new and beginning farmers are insurmountable, to share stories of challenges and successes from around Texas, and to create a space for honest and thoughtful dialogue. Moderated by Carolina Mueller, President of Central Texas Young Farmers Coalition.

Direct-to-Consumer Marketing: Branding Your Farm & Maximizing Sales - Aislynn Campbell
Direct-to-consumer marketing provides a unique opportunity for direct interaction with existing and potential customers seeking your unique products. Direct marketing may be a mainstream customer’s first impression of your farm’s products, but direct-to-consumer marketing creates a more intimate connection between you and your customers. As a farmer, is this a path you desire in your business plan? Have you considered the unique opportunities available? Have you considered the challenges? Let's have a real talk about your farm’s brand and maximizing your sales in the the direct-to-consumer marketplace.

Garden and Homesteading track

The Passion of Soil: Bring Your Yard to Life and Grow a Vigorous Garden - Cody Creech
This session is about how to create "hot rod" garden soil out of the ordinary dirt that makes up your yard. If you live on rock, you will have to build raised beds and import garden soil from a store; however, if you have six to eight inches of dirt, you can make magic by just adding compost and amendments. Healthy soil is alive, and there are complex relationships between the life-forms and fungus in your soil and the plants you are trying to grow. If you provide these life-forms the proper structure and feed them the proper food and minerals, they will do the rest. You feed the soil and the soil feeds the plants, learn how in this session.

Herbalism for the Homestead - Kara Kroeger
Medicine is all around us in our gardens and the natural environment. However, many of us need guidance on how to effectively reap the benefits of this abundant medicine chest. In this class we will discover which phytonutrients are impressive medicines in the plants that grow in the wild and in our gardens. We will become familiar with the profound health improvements and distinct culinary delights these plants offer. Further, we will discuss the best techniques to adequately grow and process these medicinal plants for ideal bioavailability to share and improve the vitality of the communities all around us.

Permaculture Design for Texas - Zach Halfin
Permaculture is a design practice based on three ethics: people care, earth care, and fair share. With Texas's diverse climate and many bioregions, in order to achieve these design goals it requires growing and building techniques that are specific to a location. During this session we will explore the farming and ranching techniques that fit the ethics of Permaculture Design.

Tried and True: Useful Composting Strategies - Colin Mitchell
This session will cover composting basics for gardeners and homesteaders. Colin will guide you through reliable and proven compost strategies step by step. These strategies include thermophilic compost, vermicompost, bokashi, and more.

Native and Edible Plants for Your Landscape - Christy Tinsley Ilfrey
Plants provide more than beauty. They are a source of food and shelter to multitudes of birds, beneficial insects, and other wildlife. In this session you will learn to landscape and live with native and edible plants that really know how to multi-task!

Preserving, Freezing, & Canning - Michelle Weaver
This session will review effective harvesting and storage of homestead produce. We will review the various methods and styles of canning, freezing, and preserving food.

Food systems and policy track

Non-Profit Urban Farming for Hunger Relief - Greg Mast
The Central Texas Food Bank nourishes hungry people and leads the community in the fight against hunger. In the garden we pursue that mission by growing fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, teaching gardening, and helping other organizations with their gardening efforts. In this presentation we'll talk about topics like safe food handling practices when working with volunteers, the differences between growing for a food bank and growing for market, and the quirks of farming in an institutional context.

Grassroots Lobbying Training - Judith McGeary & Kolby Monnig
Not sure how to have an impact on your elected officials? Come join us for an interactive session to learn how to easily and effectively impact your legislators. Whatever your political background, or theirs, you can be a powerful voice for our local farms and local food!

Farm to School in Texas School Systems - Scott Sroufe & Rachel Spencer
Are you interested in working with or selling to schools? This session will equip you with farm to school basics, as well as tools you need to build relationships with school food decision-makers. We’ll help you think through what it takes to access the school marketplace, address common questions and misconceptions, and share relevant resources from the USDA and TDA. Join us in this dynamic session to learn how your farm can be a part of the growing farm to school movement in Texas!

Food Access: A Multicultural Approach - Sayuri Yamanaka & Hilda GutiƩrrez
Sustainable Food Center (SFC) cultivates a healthy community by strengthening the local food system and improving access to nutritious, affordable food. This session will explore SFC’s asset-based community engagement model that centers directly on impacted Latina/o communities to increase food access. In the first part of the workshop, we will delve into the intersection of food access and social justice while the second part will be an exploration of our approach and tools.

Keeping the Poop off the Food: Navigating FSMA PSR and GAPs - Billy Mitchell and Danika Trierweiler
We'll dig into what the FSMA PSR and GAP Audits ask for, and what they don't, and we'll use that to build on best practices you're probably already using on your farm. If you like The Lean Farm, binging Farmer to Farmer episodes, and selling food locally, then you've already got a lot of the info and motivation you need to run a profitable, efficient, and food safe farm all while navigating these rules and regulations.

Central Texas Food Hub Feasibility - Adrienne Haschke, Edwin Marty, & Sue Beckwith
SFC, TCLF, and the City of Austin will share the methodology and findings from an in-depth food hub feasibility assessment for Central Texas. Attendees will hear the team’s conclusions and how this collaborative effort will move forward with 5 of the 11 recommended actions to overcome persistent barriers to a robust, sophisticated food system. Attendees will also gain some “how-to” insights on assessing regional supply, demand, and existing assets.

Special interest round tables

Food Safety and the Produce Safety Rule - Richard De Los Santos
Produce growers and those who work with fruit and vegetable producers are encouraged to participate in this discussion of the Produce Safety Rule and how Texas will administer it. Facilitated by Richard De Los Santos, Director of Produce Safety at Texas Department of Agriculture, this round table will begin with a basic explanation of how Texas will implement the produce rule, while the main discussion will focus on specific topics raised by participants, including other food safety experts and farmers.

Land Planning for Regenerative Agriculture - Theron Beaudreau
Looking to make your operation more regenerative? This session is your opportunity to learn how to incorporate simple strategies that can help make your farm enterprises more efficient, productive, and profitable. Step into this interactive round table and step out of the linear, extraction agricultural model of the past.

Growing a Stronger Food System Through Cooperation - Annelies Lottemann
This is a round table for any farmer, gardener, chef, or food artisan who has found that running a small local food business on your own can be a daunting, expensive, and lonely experience. We'll explore the different ways that local food producers can cooperate together to save money, access larger markets, and start new enterprises. The collaborators you've been looking for may be sitting around the table with you!

Whole Farm Goals: Your Values and Actions - Tracy Litle
Join a round table to discuss the importance of creating a whole farm goal that unites your actions and purpose to what you value, what you want to produce, and your environment.

Accepting SNAP at Farmers’ Market - Hilda GutiĆ©rrez
In July 2018, Novo Dia Group announced they would be discontinuing the use of Mobile Market+ at farmers markets across the country. In this round table we will facilitate a conversation to make sense of the information that has been disseminated since then and share resources we have discovered as a result.

Texas Legislative Session - Judith McGeary
Several bills introduced into the Texas legislature this session will impact farmers, ranchers, food producers, and consumers - some good, some not so good. Judith McGeary with Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance and Council for Healthy Food Systems will provide insights into relevant legislation and lead a discussion on their implications.

Register Now!
We'll dig into what the FSMA PSR and GAP Audits ask for, and what they don't, and we'll use that to build on best practices you're probably already using on your farm. If you like The Lean Farm, binging Farmer to Farmer episodes, and selling food locally, then you've already got a lot of the info and motivation you need to run a profitable, efficient, and food safe farm all while navigating these rules and regulations.
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