11th Annual Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference: ‘Changing Realities in Farming and Food’


"Changing Realities in Farming and Food" 7th Annual Small Farm Conference

Saturday, January 30, 2010 8:00 am5:00 pm Grayling High School Grayling, Michigan


Friday Evening Keynote Speaker

"Thinking Beyond our Plates:  Critical Questions to Find Food Truth"
Melinda Hemmelgarn, Nutrition & Health Communications Consultant
Melinda is a registered dietitian, "investigative" nutritionist, and award-winning journalist, with 30 years experience in clinical, academic and public health nutrition.
Her provocative, practical and personal "Food Sleuth" newspaper columns, magazine articles, conference keynotes, community radio and cable access TV shows help people "think beyond their plates."  Her work has appeared in assorted national publications including the American Journal of Nursing, Today's Dietitian, Current Health, Cable in the Classroom, Rodale Institute and Edible Communities.
Melinda and her photographer husband received the MO Department of Agriculture's Farmer's Market Champion Award for their 2009 Farm Hands Calendar:  A Tribute to the Hands that Feed Us.  All proceeds supported their local farmers' market.

Saturday Keynote

"Value Added:  For You, For the Environment and for the Consumer"
Gary Zimmer, President Midwestern Bio-Ag
Gary is a farmer, author, agri-businessman and educator dedicated to biological agriculture.  Recognized around the world for his commitment to improving farming through restoring soils, he has spoken to farmers and agribusiness professionals all across the US and in Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
For the past 25 years, Gary has been evaluating farming practices as a consultant, on his family's farm, and as president of Midwestern Bio-Ag, a biological farming consulting company located in Blue Mounds, Wis.  He operates the Bio-Ag Learning Center, where biological farming practices and agricultural producats are field tested, and where the annual Field Day draws over 700 agriculture professionals from across the country.
Gary is the author of the book, "The Biological Farmer, A Complete Guide to the Sustainable & Profitable Biologicals System of Farming", published in 2000.

Youth Keynote Speaker

"Growing Up Joel's Son:  The Real Story"
Daniel Salatin, Polyface Farm
Daniel is the son of Joel Salatin, innovative farmer, writer and speaker.  As the third generation on Polyface Farm in Swoope Virginia, he has grown up in the family business.
Polyface services more than 1,000 families, 4 retail outlets, and 30 restaurants through on-farm sales and metropolitian buying clubs with salad bar beef, pastured poultry, eggmobile eggs, pigerator pork, forage-based rabbits, pastured turkey and forestry products through relationship marketing.  Daniel has gone from carrying freshly processed chickens while in diapers, to running and over-seeing the day-to-day workings of Polyface.  As a seven-year old hea started a pastured rabbit business that continues today.  Starting the rabbit business gave him first hand experience with marketing, processing, research and development, and the costs of a new business.
Today Daniel is fully employed by the farm and spends his time orchestraign animal movement, scheduling daily tasks and apprentice training.  At twenty-eight, Daniel is married to wife Sheri and has two sons, Andrew and Travis, and one daughter, Lauryn.
For information on the sessions click 'Read More' below, or go to the web page HERE -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Youth Session

9:00 – Welcome and Introductions
9:20 – Panel presentations by youth entrepreneurs
11:45 – Break for lunch and family time
1:30 – Keynote:  Daniel Salatin “Growing up Joel’s Son:  The Real Story”
3:00 – Educational demonstrations:  Worm composting, mushroom inoculation, harnessing horses (no horses present), tapping trees, and mozzarella cheese making.
An activity room will be open from 1:15 – 4:30 for children ages 5-8 only!  Available spots on a first come, first serve basis (maximum of 20)

Concurrent Session I

A.  Salad Bar Beef – Daniel Salatin – Learn how Polyface buys stockers from local farmers, runs a nine hundred head herd, sells over 300 grass fed beef a year and only owns 100 acres of pasture.  Also learn some ways to cut, pack and market beef that is tender and tastes great.

B.  Hydroponics and Food Production in Michigan – Kris and Steve VanHaitsma – What were you thinking?  How it happened.  Growing indoors year round:  heat and light, what you can grow and can you make money?

C.  Sustainable, Organic, Green, Fresh and Natural:  Does the Emperor Have Clothes? – Melinda Hemmelgarn– A greenwashing expose.  Come spruce up your green vocabulary and learn how to make true earth-friendly food choices.

D.  Legislation, Laws, Regulations and What They May Mean to Your Farm – GAP Part 1 – Elaine Brown and Colleen Collier Bess – So you think you know what Good Agriculture Practices are, but do you know what “flavors” are being asked for?  An overview of the program, and first hand discussions with a USDA GAP auditor.

E.  Chicken Basics – The Fun and Easy Way to Raise Chickens – Jane Knapp – She will share what has worked for her – beginning with the egg hatch and progressing through each stage of the chicken’s life.

F.  Consumer Trends in the Burgeoning Green Market:  What Motivates, Attracts, and Captures the Enlightened Consumer Timothy Young – Whether you are a small scale entrepreneur, value added farmer or a consumer, green living is hot.  Consumers are making enlightened demands and the economy is responding.  With an emphasis on the food/farming sector this session will bring the latest statistics on this trend.

G.  Sustainable Hops Production in the Great Lakes RegionRob Sirrine – Hops are a novel crop with plenty of potential to be grown in Michigan.  This talk will provide participants with information needed to grown and market hops in Michigan.

H.  Permaculture for FarmersEric Toensmeier – Permaculture is a design system to help transform your farm into an agroecosystem with functionally interconnected elements.  A design process and principles will be shared that draw cutting-edge ecological design, indigenous practices, and old-fashioned farmer common sense.

Concurrent Session II

I.  Perennial Vegetables – Eric Tonsemeier – This workshop will cover the best perennial vegetable species for cold climates and review design ideas and management issues allowing them to come back year after year.

J.  There Are No Magic Bullets – Karen Lubbers – After Karen’s daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer a journey followed that led them from main stream America to sustainable agriculture.  Karen will share their journey and the provocative lessons learned along the way.  Hers is a personal story that profoundly connects food, farming and well-being.

K.  Getting the Most From Your Fertilizer Dollar – Gary Zimmer – What is the minimum I can do to stay sustainable?  If I want to do better, what is a practical approach to evaluating and achieveing my goals?

L.  Put the Fun Back in Dairy Farming – Howard Straub – Howard started rotationally grzing his dairy herd and has never looked back!  He will share his numbers, experience and success for a lucrative sustainable grass-based dairy farm.  He even takes a winter vacation!

M.  Our Farm Experience with GAP – GAP Part 2 – Grower Panel– How the program has both positively and negatively affected us.  Working with your retailer to make the program work for both of you.

N.  Turning Maintenance from a Liability into a Crucial Asset for the Small Farm – Cary Urka – Turning maintenance from a liability into a cruical asset requires a well-equipped shop for essential preemptive, or early intervention maintenance.  Cary will cover practical applications and examples from his farm such as proper tooling, welding, fabrication, general mechanicals, AC electric systems and safety.

O.  Youth Keynote – Growing Up Joel’s Son:  The Real StoryDaniel Salatin – Daniel will cover how you can as an adult show and share your interest in farming to your kids, where to start with your farming ideas as a young person, some tools that will help the generations work as a team and share some light hearted moments growing up on Polyface Farm.

Concurrent Session III

P.  Farm to School:  A Great Opportunity in Your Community – renee DeWindt, Kristen Misiak – Hear from two food service directors about their experiences with Farm to School, and how you as a farmer can partner with your local school.  You’ll hear a broad perspective of what is possible in various schools, how farmers can help develop the partnership, and what challenges you and your school may have to overcome.

Q.  SARE Funding and On-Farm Research – Tom Rorabaugh, Dean Baas, and SARE Panel of Farmers – Opportunities for sustainable projects grants – SARE

R.  Eating Your Curds and Whey – Barbara Jeness – Cheesemaking in the kitchen.  Taking the mystery out of making cheese, how to start, what you need, and where to get it.

S.  Grass Based Sheep – Ben Tirrell – Ben will share his experiences with grazing sheep and how the Tirrell’s have used this practice to help their 150 year old family farm continue to be successful.  From raising sheep to finding innovative ways of marketing them, their tirrell’s have developed a sustainable way of farming for themselves and their customers.

T.  Wind Power Options for Farmers:  Determining Your Wind Resource, Revenue Options, Leases and Incentives – Tom Gallery, Steven Smiley, and Christopher Stahl – This discussion will provide information on determining if your site is suitable for wind energy, site and energy requirements and turbine options.  Moreover, knowledgeable presenters will walk you through the lease process and provide you with up to date information on financial and/or tax incentives and policies.

U.  Local Food Funding and Entrepreneur Opportunities Susan Loney & Shelly Fuller – Emerging business opportunities in support of the Food & Farming Network in Northern Michigan, available support servies and funding options.

V.  Saskatoon…The New Berry in TownSteve Fouch – This new healthy berry is gaining popularity with growers across the Northern Lower Peninsula.  Similar to blueberries, but without the acidic soil requirements, they are cold hardy and have diverse marketing opportunities.


FROM I-75:

Take Exit 259 toward downtown Grayling. Turn West onto I-75 BL/Hartwick Pines Road/M-93. Turn right onto Grayling Highway/Old US-27. The school is on the left.
For more directions please see the Grayling High School website at: www.casdk12.net/GHS04


cabin visual

Co-sponsors to date:

North Region MSUE County Offices
Michigan State University— Project GREEEN
C.S. Mott Chair of Sustainable Agriculture at MSU

Northern Lakes Economic Alliance—NLEA
USDA Farm Service Agency
USDA Rural Development
WCMU Public TV and Radio
GreenStone Farm Credit Services

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