2017 Conference Schedule

Download the schedule pdf  or view this info by track - Crops, Livestock, Business & Marketing, Gardening and Homesteading, and Food Systems and Policy


4:00 - 7:30 pm - Registration Open

5:00 - 7:00 pm - Welcome Gathering

7:00 - 8:00 pm - Film Screening & Seed Swap featuring Ladies of the Land, a 30-minute film.


7:30 am - Registration Opens

8:15 - 9:45 am - Opening Plenary - Welcome, Message from Judith Canales (USDA), & Plenary by Alex Racelis (UTRGV)

9:45 - 10:00 am - Break: Visit exhibit hall and silent auction!

Session 1:   10:00 - 11:15 am

Systematic Weed Management in Vegetable Production - Stephen Kraemer, Salon D

This workshop will explore long and short term strategies for weed control. By utilizing equipment specific to the size and type of your farm, mulching, and other techniques, you can create a weed management system to keep weeds manageable on your farm.

Grazing Strategies to Improve Pasture Performance - Thomas Schroeder, Latigo

The NCAT Southwest Soil for Water project is working toward building and maintaining soil health and water holding capacity. In this session, we will review grazing management strategies to improve pasture performance and increase carrying capacity.

Beyond Fresh: Farmer Decision-Making for Value-Added Production - Sue Beckwith, Robert Maggiani, Salon E

Do you often have fresh produce that you can't sell? Do you need to diversify your operation? How would you like to be able to sell all the fruits and vegetables you grow and also have product to sell at times you are not harvesting anything? If all that sounds great, we hope you'll come to our workshop where we'll present our work on a decision-making guide for farmers on value-added processing.

Rainwater Harvesting: "Saving From A Rainy Day" - Patrick Dickinson, Pelham

Divert it, save it, use it! Come learn the basics and benefits of rainwater harvesting and the effects stormwater has on the environment. Participants will learn how to calculate rainwater capture and design a collection system.

Funding for Farm to School Activities - Rachel Spencer, Kim Aman, Cayuse

Participants will gain an understanding of the various grants available through USDA and TDA that support local and regional food systems. You will gain insight on successful grant projects and learn how to obtain non-grant support for community food related projects.

11:15 - 1:00 pm - Lunch (on your own)

Session 2:    1:00 - 2:15 pm

More Life, More Profits: Livestock and Specialty Crop Integration - Glen Miracle, Salon D

You do not need to disturb the soil with plows and rototillers. Learn how the techniques we employ at Laughing Frog Farm utilize animals, their manure, left behind hay, and cover crops to fertilize and prepare the area for produce and specialty crops . Rotating gardens, chickens, sheep, geese, and hogs create fertile soils with little need for purchased soil supplements. Even aquaponic-raised fish can fit into this system. It can add up to more profits, diverse products, and less labor.

Keep Rangeland Native: Park that bulldozer and sell the tractor - Dr. Jim Muir, Latigo

Native rangeland is easier to keep organic than cultivated pastures. A complex plant community adapted to local climate, soil, and fauna is more stable, requires fewer inputs, and takes less management. There is a price, however: production expectations have to be realistic, namely lower stocking rates and longer rests.

Media Training for Farmers - Erin Flynn, Salon E

In this interactive session, farmers will learn how to take control of the interview process. We will explore the specific requirements of broadcast and print reporters as well as spend time developing key messages and identifying media opportunities that can improve your bottom line.

Raising Backyard Chickens - Cameron Molberg, Kevin Ellis, Pelham

Everyone loves fresh vegetables, so what about fresh eggs? Have your own backyard chickens. Learn what type of coop to build, how to care for your hens, and what to feed your flock to have the best results for egg production. Get those questions answered, like do you need the noisy rooster?

Food Justice & Food Access - Panel Discussion, Cayuse

Food Justice is defined as a community exercising its right to grow, sell, and eat healthy food. This takes different forms in different places. This session will explore what that means for urban residents in Texas cities.

2:15 - 2:30 pm - Break - Visit exhibit hall and silent auction!

Session 3:    2:45 - 4:00 pm

Extend Your Season: Produce Storage & Post-Harvest Handling - Pedro Schambon, Salon D

Extend your seasonal produce availability and maintain high quality by utilizing best practices around cold storage and post-harvest handling. This often overlooked part of farming can drastically affect produce quality. Tailored specifically to small farm operations, there will be a variety of tips and tricks to implement on your farm.

After Harvesting the Animal - How will I cut and market my meat? - Wendy Taggart, Latigo

Producing a quality product is essential to building a loyal customer base. That includes a plan for what to do with the animal once it is harvested. We will discuss attributes of a quality carcass, current state of infrastructure available for processing animals (small producers), dry aging, and fabrication (basic breakdown options for beef, hog, and lamb carcasses).

Value-Added, The Earth Elements Farm Story - April Harrington, Salon E

Hear the story of Earth Elements Farm where the original focus was organic herbs, fruits, and vegetables; herbal bath and body products; and preserved vegetables. Over the years, April focused on eliminating waste and increasing profits for both her farm and other Oklahoma farmers. She expanded the product line using “waste” or excess crops to include baked goods, local ready-to-eat meals, and food preservation for Farm to School. By 2009, The Earth Elements Line contained over 300 value-added products from Oklahoma-grown crops.

Organic Insect Management - Lorig Hawkins, Pelham

This workshop will cover the basics of organic insect management. We will discuss common pests for vegetable growers, how to detect them, their life cycles, and different solutions for mitigating their impact. We will also discuss different steps necessary for those following organic certification procedures. At the end we will discuss various resources for pest management and growing trends in the integrated pest management field.

4:00 - 4:15 pm - Break - Visit exhibit hall and silent auction!

4:15 - 5:30 pm - TOFGA Member Meeting & Elections

6:00 pm - Banquet Dinner with Keynote by Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute (Tickets available for purchase at Registration.)

9:00 pm - Trivia Night! Pub-style - All are welcome!


7:30 am - Registration Opens

Session 4:    8:15 - 9:30 am

Controlling Disease and Pests: Tarping and Soil Solarization - Larry Butler, Salon D

Learn about utilizing black tarps to help break weed cycles and clear greenhouse plastic for deterring soil diseases and pests with Larry Butler of Boggy Creek Farm.

Managing Ruminant Health - Dr. David Celella, Latigo

There are many challenges to raising ruminants, with internal parasites continuing to be one of the largest issues. We will discuss how to monitor your herd/flock and how to strategically treat them to best maintain the health of your animals.

The Competitive Environment in Local, Direct-Marketed, & Organic Foods: The Guerrilla Marketing Advantage - Mark Kastel, Salon E

Most direct marketers know that they will never outdo Wal-Mart on pricing or Whole Foods on glitz. But many farm entrepreneurs / specialty retailers have something these giant corporations can't buy at any price.....authenticity. You have a distinct advantage that could and should be exploited. We will review time-tested guerrilla marketing techniques. Through case studies of growers and retailers, we will review how to integrate various methods into an extremely low-cost and effective campaign to tell the story behind your food and farm. These include point-of-sale signage, sampling, events, newsletters, social media, speaking engagements, community involvement, and media relations.

The Value in our Weeds - Brandy McDaniel, Pelham

This session will be an introduction to the wild foods and medicines used historically in North Texas. We will cover common plants that we see every day. Come discover how to use these plants in your every day - in the kitchen and in your medicine cabinet.  

Food Safety Regulations: What farmers and artisan producers need to know right now - Judith McGeary, Cayuse

The FDA's regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act are now in force -- and even farmers and producers who are exempt under the Tester-Hagan exemption have record-keeping requirements they must comply with. Come learn about the scope of the exemptions, what you can and cannot do if you want to remain exempt, and the basics of what is required for non-exempt farmers and artisan producers.

9:30 - 10:00 am - Break - Visit exhibit hall and silent auction!

Session 5:    10:00 - 11:15 am

Growing Profits with Specialty Cut Flowers - Mike Milligan, Salon D

Momentum from the local movement is expanding beyond agricultural sustenance, and into specialty cut flowers. Whether your interest lies in broadening your product offering or cut flowers as a primary business, I am inviting you to learn how we went from a comedy of errors to a successful flower farm in this schizophrenic Texas climate.

Scaling Up Poultry Production - Cameron Molberg, Latigo

Learn how to effectively and profitably scale up your egg production. This class will discuss seasonal lay rates, production by age, animal wellness and behaviors, when to add new flocks, when to depopulate, and how to remain cash positive throughout the process.

Wholesaling Panel Discussion. Working with retail, restaurants, distributors, and institutions - Chef Matt McCallister, Michael Mosley of JBG, Salon E

Panel discussion around the topic of working with wholesale buyers, including restaurants, distributors, and other institutional buyers.  Understand from a business perspective what are the challenges and requirements that are critical to success.

Small Tunnels for Season Extension - Dr. Joe Masabni, Pelham

Participants can learn tips and recommendations for utilizing tunnels. Research was conducted using matted row cover in small and medium tunnels, and no tunnel as control. The workshop will report results of that research and will address pest management issues in high tunnels.

Funding Opportunities for Farmers - Dr. Nelson Daniels, Cayuse

Many programs are available to farms and ranches to provide support for capital improvements, crop and livestock protection, conservation, and other projects. Come learn about what these programs and opportunities are and how to access them. From cost-share to grants and loans to insurance to research projects, you’re likely to find something that fits your needs.

11:15 - 1:00 pm - Lunch & Regional Meetings (Lunch tickets available for $20 each.)

   Silent auction closes at 12:45 pm.

Session 6:   1:00 - 2:15 pm

Organic Disease & Pest Control Products for Strawberries - Justin Duncan, Salon D

This workshop will cover organic solutions for strawberry diseases and pests commonly found in Texas. It will focus primarily on biocontrols and controlling conditions conducive to disease and pest outbreaks. It will also cover some organic products that have been shown to be effective.

Raising Sheep in Texas - Lauri and David Celella, Latigo

While Texas is cattle country, there is a large market for sheep. The Celella family has been raising both sheep and cattle for several years and will discuss their management practices and considerations for raising sheep in Texas.

Farm-based Education & Agritourism - Erin Flynn, Salon E

The next best thing to growing food is showing how it's done. Learn how this organic vegetable farm has expanded its enterprises to include a thriving volunteer and farm-based education program. These community partnerships have set the stage for the farm's next enterprise: agritourism.

Fruit Trees for the Home Landscape - Greg Mast, Pelham

Many people want to plant fruit trees in their home landscape, but do not feel confident about how to care for them. In this talk, Greg will provide tips on how to select, plant, and care for fruit trees to help make your home landscape both beautiful and productive.

Resources for Local Food Economic Development - Sue Beckwith, Cayuse

Your farm is a key part of the bigger picture of your local economy. We will share resources from the beta version of the Texas Local Food Zone that includes commercial kitchens, markets, and other resources. We'll also talk about LocalLocal.com and ways you can ensure that locally grown integrity is maintained and your money and your customer's money flows within, not out of your community.

2:15 - 2:30 pm Break - Visit exhibit hall!

Session 7:    2:30 pm - 3:45 pm

Organic Insect Control - Paul Magedson, Salon D

The session covers how we continually strive to develop sustainable farming and living techniques at Good Earth Organic Farm. Many challenges impair the ability to achieve a cornucopia of healthy produce. Insect control is key to this end and you must recognize the pests and beneficials and understand their life cycles.  With this knowledge, you can develop a strategy to keep them in check. Join us and find out how you can do the same.  

Raising Pigs on Pasture - Brian Findeisen, Latigo

This session will give tips and recommendations from a small-scale farmer on raising pigs on pasture from farrowing to farmers markets. Topics will include breed characteristics, fencing and pasture rotation, predation, feeding, and housing. We will also discuss budgeting, butchering, and marketing.

Increasing Profits Without Increasing Production - Justin Tuley, Salon E

Take efficiencies from the technology and manufacturing industry and integrate them into daily farm decision-making to reduce waste and increase your time and money. This workshop requires active participation from everyone and will include in-workshop exercises. Bring your thinking caps!

Biodynamics - The future of agriculture, ranching, gardening, & living - Bill McCranie, Pelham

This session will cover the history of biodynamics, methods and procedures for incorporating biodynamic principles, and practices to attain enhanced nutrition, more flavor, and better-appearing foods.

Selling Homemade Foods: Cottage Foods and Beyond - Judith McGeary, Cayuse

Want to make foods in your home kitchen and sell them? Learn about what you can and cannot do under the current cottage food law in Texas, what may be changing, and how you can be involved.

Friday Evening Banquet

We're thrilled to welcome Mark Kastel as our keynote speaker! 

Enjoy an evening together with the greatest farmers in Texas! TOFGA members are at the forefront of organic agriculture and are worth celebrating!  The TOFGA banquet is a time to share ideas and connect.  Relax with old friends and new over a delicious, locally-sourced dinner that will highlight what our great state has to offer.

Mark Kastel is cofounder of The Cornucopia Institute and one of the liveliest, most interesting and provocative voices in the organic food and farm policy arena today.  His message about the authenticity and integrity of organics is empowering and sure to engage all conference participants.  Cornucopia is a national farm policy research and outreach group based in Wisconsin and dedicated to promoting economic justice for family-scale producers and building bridges to the retailers and consumers who support ecological and organic farming.

Banquet tickets can be purchased with the conference ticket or separately. All proceeds will help TOFGA build programs and networking opportunities in 2017. Tickets are $65 each or if you buy 4 or more save $10 on each ticket! Buy yours now.

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