Food and Farm Conference Inspires and Motivates

Watching the key note speakers in the Don Baggett theater, 2018

Sierra Harvest’s 8th annual Sustainable Food and Farm conference was a resounding success! With more than 650 attendees gathering to learn about regenerative farming and ranching (and so much more!), it was a motivating, inspirational weekend for all who attended.

The conference brings together and knowledgeable mix of small-scale farmers, ranchers, gardeners, homesteaders, permaculturists and local food enthusiasts.  

Kicking off on Thursday with a Food Safety workshop for local producers, the conference provided many opportunities for practical information and networking.  Then on Friday, many attended farm tours at Mountain Bounty Farm, Browing Ranch and The Goat Works.   And some lucky participants attended the always popular edible mushroom cultivation workshop from Tumbling Creek Farm.  Also on Friday, the Nevada County Tech Connection hosted the AgTech Micro Conference, focusing on how technology can support more successful farms.

Those juicy experiences were just the beginning.  Saturday was the conference’s main event!  With hundreds of people packing Nevada Union High School’s Baggett Theater, three keynote speakers from across the country shared their wisdom and expertise with a rapt audience.

Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser of Singing Frogs Farm presenting, 2018

Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser from Singing Frogs Farm inspired both home scale and market growers alike to implement no till practices.  Many conference goers said that the Kaisers “demystified” no till and made it seem actually possible. 

Dr. Daphne Miller took the stage to talk about soil health as it relates to human health- pairing science and storytelling to create a compelling presentation.  She talked about diversity as being key to health in both body and soil and she also made a pretty good argument in favor of raising your kids on a farm!

Speaking of raising kids on the farm, the final speaker Joel Salatin had a lot of thoughts on how to do that.  And as someone whose children and grandchildren are deeply involved in the day to day operations of Polyface Farm, it seems that he knows what he’s talking about.  Hot tip from Joel- never make work a punishment!

Saturday afternoon, all three keynote speakers hosted in depth breakout sessions where they answered questions and dove deeper into their subjects of expertise.

Shan Kendall teaching about fermentation techniques – 2018

On Sunday, participants got a chance to learn from the bounty of knowledge from our local agencies, experts and farmers at 20 different workshops.  Covering everything from conservation and fermentation to weed management and whole animal butchery, the workshops were a great chance for conference goers to get more in depth and ask questions.  At lunch, the round table discussions of relevant topics lead to more cross pollination and connections in the food and farming community.

Many conference goers remarked on how amazing it is to have this quality of education and discourse in a small town, and what a great deal the price is for farmers!  The depth and breadth of knowledge that the conference provides each year is a shot of inspiration and motivation for farmers and foodies alike.  Like seeds blowing into the wind that will land on fertile soil, the inspiration from this weekend will be planted all over California (and beyond) and will grow and flourish. 

Did you attend the conference?  Do you have feedback about it?  What did you love?  What would you like to see next year?  Fill out that conference evaluation in your in-box and you could win a free pass to next year’s conference.