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Harvest CASA’s Annual Conference, Jan. 18-19, 2013

Amish Organic Dairy Farmer and Author David Kline to Deliver Keynote Address

Nov. 20, 2012—Hundreds of farmers, food system advocates, intensive gardeners, and others involved in sustainable and organic agriculture in the Chesapeake region will meet to discuss the latest issues and methods in the field at the National Conference Center in Lansdowne, Virginia, on January 18 and 19, 2013. More than 400 participants from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and DC are expected to attend this 14th annual Farming for Profit and Stewardship Conference.

“The Future Harvest CASA annual conference is the main chance each year for people in the sustainable agriculture community to meet, share experiences from the past season, and get inspired for the coming farming season,” says Renee Catacalos, deputy director of Future Harvest CASA. “We see a great exchange of ideas and energy between rural and urban folks, farmers and those who support farming and understand the critical role it plays in our regional economy,” Catacalos notes. “Both our organization and our conference have been growing steadily for the last four years, as people increasingly realize that local farmers are the key to a healthy, sustainable, local food supply.”

“People get really pumped up from the conference, because participants are so willing to share information and help each other succeed,” says Joan Norman, president of the board of Future Harvest CASA, and owner with her husband Drew of One Straw Farm in Baltimore County, Maryland. “There is an emphasis on peer-to-peer learning, with farmers of all levels of experience and expertise sharing their unique stories and best practices so we can grow as a community of food providers.”

David Kline, Amish organic dairy farmer from Ohio and author of several books including Scratching the Woodchuck: Nature On An Amish Farm, will deliver the keynote address on the topic, “What Is the Future of Small-Scale Farming?”. In the wake of the November defeat of Proposition 37, a California ballot initiative to require the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food, Kline will assess where the sustainable and organic food/agriculture movement is headed.

“With decades of dairy farming behind him—first conventional, then organic—Kline is not only an eloquent chronicler of the lifecycles experienced by wildlife, plants, farm animals and even the soil on his land in Ohio. He is also a visionary able to reach back into history, analyze current events and see where the sustainable food movement needs to go in the future,” says Amanda Behrens, Future Harvest CASA board member and conference chair, and senior program officer at Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

Other well-known speakers include Sandor Ellix Katz, author of Wild Fermentation; Forrest Pritchard, blogger and farmer at Smith Meadows Farm in Berryville, VA, and author of the forthcoming book Hayseeds, A Story of Farmers Markets, Local Food & Saving the FamilyFarm; Carole Morison, the industrial-turned-sustainable chicken farmer featured in the film “Food, Inc.,” ; Josh Volk of Slow Hand Farm in Portland, Oregon, who writes for the market gardening publication “Growing for Market”; Maya Kosok of the Farm Alliance of Baltimore City, a network of urban farmers seeking to promote urban farming and accessibility to urban-grown food; and Patricia Foreman, Virginia-based author of City Chicks and backyard chicken activist.

The two-day conference offers dozens of sessions organized in six tracks: Beginning Farmers; Scaling Up; Grass-Based Systems; Local Food Communities; Fruit & Vegetable Production; and The Business of Farming. It also includes the keynote address, a panel discussion among farmers on stories of change and transition, displays from more than 50 sponsors and exhibitors, and six preconference workshops, held the morning of Friday, January 18, covering hands-on topics such as worm-bin construction, wild fermentation, butchering for farmers and chefs, and mobile poultry processing.

Future Harvest – Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (Future Harvest CASA) is a nonprofit organization representing a regional network of farmers, agricultural professionals, landowners and consumers living and working in the Chesapeake region. Future Harvest CASA promotes profitable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable food and farming systems that work to sustain communities. For more information, go towww.futureharvestcasa.org.

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