Author: Garry Stephenson, Small Farms Program, Oregon State University

Publish Date: Spring 2012

The attendance hit a record. Over 800 people attended the 2012 OSU Small Farms Conference. The 2011 record was 650. Needless to say, the organizers were confident but nervous. Attendees included: Farmers (majority), farmers’ market managers, agriculture and food non-profit organizations, government agency and university faculty, and those who opening defied definition.

The registration fee is always kept low through the support of sponsors. One of key expenses the registration fees cover is food. In a clear indication of how far the local/regional food system has developed in recent years, nearly all of the food for lunch was sourced locally (except lunch meats and cheese). The registration fee helps support these farms: Salad mix and root vegetables from Denison Farms near Corvallis and Gathering Together Farm near Philomath, black beans and garbanzo beans from Hunton’s Farm near

Junction City, hazel nuts from LaMancha Orchard near Sweet Home. All the bread was Oregon Grains 100 Mile Bread which included wheat, oaks and flax from Stalford Seed Farm of Tangent and Honey from Olsen’s Honey Farm near Albany. The organizing committee will continue to improve the menu with food sourced from within our region.

The conference included an inspiring keynote by Kristin Kimball of Essex Farm, New York plus 21 sessions covering multi-species meat marketing, new Oregon policies on broiler production and value added products, winter farming, permaculture, farm finance and management, and the full diet full year CSA model.

A highlight of the conference was the Ladies in the Fields art exhibit consisting of 11 portraits of local farm women by Rebecca Waterhouse from Scio. See page 7 for more information.

Conference sponsors were USDA Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (WSARE), the Oregon Department of Agriculture, USDA Western Center Risk Management Education (RME), the Oregon Farmers’ Market Association and Oregon State University.

For a farmer’s perspective of the 2012 Small Farms Conference, see a reprint of Goat Song Farm’s Caitlyn Menne “Goat Song Farm” farm blog on page 6.

The 2013 OSU Small Farms Conference is scheduled for Saturday, March 2nd, 2013 Mark your calendars.