Regional Conferences Nurture Regional Food Systems

Authors: Katrina Van Dis, Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council Emily Vollmer and Lauren Sorg, Food Roots

Publish Date: Fall 2014

Editor’s note: On back-to-back weekends this fall, two regions of Oregon will gather together to celebrate their local food systems and strategize next steps for future development. Both gatherings will be hosted by local food system nonprofits, public agencies, and OSU Extension. 

Central Oregon Food Summit

Central Oregon is blooming with interest in a sustainable food system. The second Food Summit, on October 25, will bring farmers, ranchers, the public, food professionals, CSA members, community organizers, and politicians together to Celebrate our Progress and Define our Future for healthy, local food in Central Oregon. Conference attendees will learn about regional farm and food issues, healthy food access, food system infrastructure, and methods to mobilize communities in order to increase access to farm-fresh, locally grown food.

At the first Food Summit in 2010, participants identified barriers and needs for the region. This October, participants will learn about and celebrate four years of regional successes.  Instead of having a keynote speaker, the community will be the keynote!  During an interactive morning of Ignite Talks,™ people will learn what farmers, people, organizations and businesses are doing to support the region. Afternoon breakout sessions in three tracks – agricultural producers, consumers, and organizations – will focus on specialty crop production, collaborating with and among organizations, discussion with local policymakers, and food skills education for families and individuals.

The Food Summit is hosted by the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, OSU Extension Service, and Jefferson County Soil & Water Conservation District and is supported by a grant from the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Grow the Coast

On Oregon’s North Coast, excitement about new opportunities for food, farms, and communities is also growing. Food Roots, North Coast Food Web, and OSU Extension are hosting the third annual “Grow the Coast” conference on November 1, in Seaside. The full-day conference will feature both beginning and advanced level workshops for farmers, gardeners and homesteaders, and local food enthusiasts. 

The conference will be a place of learning, connection, celebration of successes, and brainstorming the future. The keynote session, “Local Food on the North Coast: Celebrating Successes, Moving Ahead,” recognizes that a regional food system is a team effort. Keynote panelists and the audience will have the opportunity to hear from each other and share perspectives and ideas for how to grow the region's food system and economy. Panelists will report on trends and opportunities for producers, markets, and community, and the moderator will ask for audience participation: What are you seeing? What’s challenging? What are you excited about? And what can we do about it together? 

The keynote will be followed by educational workshops, 5 tracks over 3 time periods, on a wide range of topics, from orchard management and variety selection for hard cider production, crop breeding and seed saving, and crop rotation for disease management to agritourism, cost accounting, farm financing, small-scale equipment and hand tools, and school and community garden programs – and more.

 Central Oregon Food Summit

Saturday, October 25, 8-4pm, Bend Armory, Bend

Cost: $20 per person, includes a local food lunch. Seats are limited and scholarships are available. Tabling opportunities are available for $50 and include admittance for one and lunch.

Learn more and register at

Grow the Coast

Saturday, November 1, 8-4:30pm, Seaside Conference Center, Seaside

Cost: $30/person (two for $50) if register by October 26; after Oct. 26, $45/person (two for $80)

Online registration closes October 30th. Tickets available at the door (cash or check). Scholarships available for youth and beginning farmers or farmworkers (less than 10 years running a farm).  To apply, email or call 503-815-2800.

Learn more and register at