2016 Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference

MyNorth News Service

(Press Release provided by ISLAND)

TRAVERSE CITY: The Grand Traverse Resort near Traverse City will host more than 1,000 individuals interested in making small farms more economically and environmentally sustainable at the upcoming Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference. Michigan farmers, homesteaders, farm interns, students, chefs and conscientious eaters will gather for the Traverse City event on Friday, January 29 and Saturday, January 30, 2016 to network, share ideas, and gain new skills at the 17th Annual Conference.

This year’s conference kicks off on Friday with Farm School, a one-day intensive of courses with three tracks to choose from: agroforestry, honey, or mushrooms. This targeted day of learning includes regional and national experts, including Mark Shepard, author of Restoration Agriculture; Ben Falk, author of The Resilient Farm and Homestead; Charlotte Hubbard, author of Dronings from a Queen Bee; Dr. Meghan Milbrath of the Northern Bee Network; Ken Mudge, co-author of Farming in the Woods; Mary Ellen Kozak and Joe Krawczyk of Field and Forest Products; Annie Olds of Michigan Small Business Development Center; Wendy Wieland of Michigan State University Extension; and others.

Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities is hosting a day-long conference in tandem with the event: Farms, Food & Health. This event brings together health practitioners, schools, farmers, chefs, food-lovers, employers, and hospitals.

This year’s keynote speaker is physician and writer Dr. Daphne Miller, author of The Jungle Effect and Farmacology, who will explain the important and innate connection between local food and health. Dr. Miller is an internationally recognized speaker in the emerging field of health ecology. Her 2009 Washington Post article “Take a Hike and Call Me in the Morning” is widely credited with introducing “park prescriptions,” a concept that is rapidly gaining traction across the United States. Dr. Miller will speak Friday evening, with a book signing to follow.

A trade show featuring over 100 exhibitors in the food and farming industries will run all day Saturday, and is open to the public after 1:30 p.m. for $5. Tickets to the trade show are available online or at the door.

In addition to hearing Dr. Miller speak Friday night and attending the trade show Saturday, conference-goers will be able to choose from over 25 educational sessions, including topics on food safety, the business of farming, environmental sustainability, flower farming, growing mushrooms, pastured pork, and more.  A delicious, locally sourced lunch prepared by the staff at the Resort will be provided both days.

“Each year, the Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference is like a homecoming. Participants  visit with folks they haven’t seen since the previous year at this Certified Local Food Event,” said Conference co-chair Amanda Kik, of ISLAND. “It’s the warmest Northern Michigan event you’ll attend in January.”

The full schedule, with more details about panels, classes, and discussion topics, can be found online at www.smallfarmconference.com.


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