30th Anniversary EcoFarm Conference featuring Kathleen Merrigan in California

PRESS RELEASE PACIFIC GROVE, CALIF. – The 30th Anniversary EcoFarm Conference will commence next week at Asilomar Conference Grounds with over 60 workshops featuring prominent speakers such as Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of the USDA; Miles McEvoy, National Organic Program, Washington, DC; Frances Moore Lappé, writer of Diet for a Small Planet and Gary Hirshberg, CE-Yo of Stonyfield Farm. A long-time advocate of sustainable agriculture, Merrigan has been instrumental in developing the innovative website 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative to promote a national conversation about local and regional food systems, since her appointment to the USDA in 2009. "Americans are more interested in food and agriculture than they have been at any other time since most families left the farm and we are marshalling resources from across all of USDA to help create and strengthen the link between local production and local consumption,” said Merrigan. With the largest crowd of attendees to date, the EcoFarm Conference registration sold out several weeks ago and farmers, producers, food handlers and people interested in ecological food and farming are heading to the largest sustainable agriculture conference on the West Coast. The sold-out EcoFarm Conference, a project of the Ecological Farming Association (EcoFarm), will be held Wednesday, Jan. 20 through Saturday, Jan. 23, 2010. In its 30th year, and thriving with the awakening of public interest in sustainable and organic agriculture spurred by the Obama Administration and writers such as Michael Pollan, the EcoFarm Conference has long been an important educational event among farmers and other food system stakeholders concerned with producing healthful food in a way that strengthens soils, protects air and water, encourages diverse ecosystems and economies, and honors rural life. “The EcoFarm Conference is inspiring,” said Andy Scott, farmer at Hidden Villa Farms in Los Altos, Calif. “EcoFarm always manages to bring together new people with the newest ideas.” This year EcoFarm in collaboration with California FarmLink has launched EcoFarm GenNext, a new program for beginning farmers made possible with support from the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (NIFA), Horizon Organic, and Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative. EcoFarm GenNext has awarded 13 EcoFarm Conference scholarships, in an effort to support beginning farmers and make the unique and abundant resources provided at the EcoFarm Conference more accessible. "From one workshop to another we [are] inspired by the possibilities presented to us by passionate individuals and organizations DOING the work, day in and day out," said EcoFarm GenNext Scholarship recipient Tim Van Wagner, Living Lands Agrarian Network. EcoFarm nurtures healthy and just farms, food systems, communities and environment by bringing people together for education, alliance building and advocacy. Press Passes are available, please email me your press credentials if you are interested. -- Marcy Coburn Communications Specialist Ecological Farming Association 406 Main Street, Suite 313 Watsonville, CA 95076 831-763-2111 ext. 17 marcy@eco-farm.org www.eco-farm.org

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