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Registration is open for Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2014 annual conference, ‘Well Grounded’

Practical Farmers of Iowa is now accepting registrations for its 2014 annual conference, “Well Grounded,” which will take place Jan. 24-25 at the Iowa State Center Scheman Building on the Iowa State University campus in Ames. All are welcome to attend. Register online at http://practicalfarmers.org/events/annual-conference.html.

This year’s theme extends last year’s focus on sustaining soil health with a spotlight on cover crops and extended rotations. The conference will examine permaculture and grazing systems, as well as how a range of on-farm practices fit in with the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Through sessions and networking, attendees will learn about profitable vegetable systems, biodiversity on farms, non farmers who are building partnerships with farmers and more.

Aaron White is a beginning farmer raising 20 cow-calf pairs on 70 acres of pasture, as well as edamame, melons, honeydew and watermelon. He operates White Stock and Produce near Carlisle with his brother, Dylan, and says he will be attending Practical Farmers’ 2014 conference “no matter what.”

“I attended my first Practical Farmers of Iowa conference last year, and will definitely be going again. The conference is a great tool for personal networking,” he says. “I met beginning and established farmers, others who are searching for answers, and got to talk one-on-one with Greg Judy, who spoke on mob grazing last year. It was a positive experience all around. It was an event I was able to take something from, learn from and apply to my farm business.”

Keynote speaker

The conference will feature “True Wealth: How Iowa Can Once Again Revolutionize Agriculture,” a keynote address by Ricardo Salvador, Union of Concerned Scientists. In his keynote, Ricardo will discuss how Iowa’s people and land are assets and capital that can be used wisely to build a better future.

Pre-conference short courses

Practical Farmers is offering two short course options this year: “Achieve the Triple Bottom Line with Holistic Management” and “Restoration Agriculture 101.” Both courses run Thursday, Jan. 23, from 1-7 p.m., and continue Jan. 24 from 8-11:30 a.m. They will be held at Oakwood Road Church, on the south side of Ames.

Workshops

Attendees can choose from 26 in-depth workshops spanning topics ranging from cover crops, high stock-density grazing and advanced high tunnel techniques to farm estate planning, growing oilseed crops and the benefits of fermentation. Most sessions are led by farmers. In addition, attendees will get to choose from 11 Saturday morning breakfast sessions, as well as seven in-depth “U-Pick” sessions on topics selected this fall by Practical Farmers members.

Registration

Special rates are available for students and Practical Farmers of Iowa members. Those who pre-register by Jan. 15 will save $10 per day. Register online at http://practicalfarmers.org/events/annual-conference.html, or by contacting Erica Andorf at erica@practicalfarmers.org or 515-232-5661.

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