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Mark Your Calendar for the next Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference, Jul 31 and Aug 1, 2010
If you are interested in receiving announcements about the conference, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the subject line please state: Small Farms Conference Interest.
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At least 800 farmers and agriculture professionals participated in the 2009 Florida Small Farms Conference, held August 1 & 2 at Osceola Heritage Park located in Kissimmee, Florida.
This ground-breaking 1st annual event hosted by UF-IFAS/FAMU-CESTA included 30 educational sessions, over 80 educational and industry exhibitors, plus a multi-species live animal exhibit. Two days of education included topics related to: alternative energy, food policy and regulations, livestock, business and marketing, organic and sustainable farming and horticulture with nearly 100 speakers representing all facets of Florida agriculture.
The conference kicked off with an inspiring welcome address from Charles Bronson, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture expressing there is a place for small producers in the agriculture system. “…we need small farmers”. He shared his thoughts about the Farm to Fuel Summit and the importance of becoming a more self–sustaining country less reliant on foreign oil. Another important part of the morning kick off was the Florida Innovative Farmer Awards presented to three producers for their innovation in developing and sustaining their small farm enterprise. The awards were presented to a lamb producer, pastured-poultry producer and organic citrus and vegetable producer.
A Farm to Table lunch was another highlight at the conference showcasing 20 farms that provided vegetables, meat or value-added products. A delicious meal was prepared by Chef Tony and staff with Savor Osceola Catering Co. using farm direct products. The luncheons brought awareness to the diversity of farmers and products available for a local food system. During lunch Keynote speaker John Ikerd, Professor delivered a passionate speech about his truth on the past, present and future of agriculture. He told us a story about the year 2050, what will that look like based upon decisions we are making today.
One of the most important results from this conference was the level of networking opportunities that transpired. Many participants shared their gratitude to have the opportunity to attend such a life changing event.
More information about this conference and the next statewide conference will be coming soon at http://smallfarms.ifas.ufl.edu. Opportunities to be an exhibitor sponsor and/or food supplier will be available.
Written by: Nola Wilson, Small Farms Conference Executive Committee and Marion County Extension Agent