I am honored to have the opportunity to attend the 2013 Dakota Grown Local Foods Conference as an on-site blogger. It is Friday, April 12 in Bismarck, North Dakota. This will be my third year attending the conference. In the past, I have attended on behalf of an organization that was looking to develop its role in community agriculture. This year, I just get to be me, a thirty something entrepreneur with a deep appreciation for food and nature. How great this is gonna be, just to be me!
My blog site, Pages of Paradigm, will become home to the narratives I produce at the conference. I will document and relay the topics of the conference and provide supplementary information and resources all through the lens of my own knowledge, experiences, and interests in the local foods movement.
This conference is made for people like me. People who are active in their community and value locally produced food. People who are non-conventional or small scale producers. People who run a raspberry farm or juneberry orchard, or who raise pastured pork, grass-fed beef, or free-range chickens. People who are helping their community start or continue a farmers’ market, or who work in the field of sustainable agriculture, local foods marketing, or horticultural production. The conference covers topics such as climatology, high tunnel production, and variety trails for vegetable crops. Also the North Dakota Hunger Garden Project and increasing access to locally grown foods by integrating SNAP/EBT benefits as an acceptable form of payment for farmers’ market food products.
Over lunch, the North Dakota Farmers Market & Growers Association will hold its annual meeting, followed by break out sessions in the topic areas of production, marketing, and food safety. Discussions in production will be led on ways that producers can get their specialty crops to market as well as some information on what specialty crops are. In my mind, specialty crops are the really good stuff: the greens, herbs, tomatoes, squash, cut flowers, root vegetables, fruits, and so on, basically anything that is not a conventional agricultural crop (wheat, soybeans, feed corn, etc). Marketing topics include building customer relationships and will include discussions by, among others, two fellow North Dakota Bloggers of Rhubarb & Venison and Pickle Me Too. Also, there will be a session on agri-tourism which is of particular interest to folks who are interested allowing public tours of their farms. As for food safety, this should be an interesting and informing session on rules & regulations on the sale of meat, dairy, and eggs.
Then, the day will wrap up with a presentation on “Why Local Foods” and a social. The agenda and speakers are subject to change, but really I am so excited about attending this conference and sharing its wealth of information in such an important area of our lives. Wendell Berry said it so well with the simple statement, “Eating is an agricultural act.”