Small Farms Conference meets Feb. 22 at OSU

Hundreds of farmers from throughout Oregon will gather in Corvallis this winter to improve their skills and get inspired for the next growing season. The 14th annual Oregon Small Farms Conference will take place Feb. 22 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Oregon State University.

Michael Ableman, a nationally known farmer, author and photographer, will present the keynote address.

For the first time, organizers are offering a special series of workshops in Spanish for Latino farmers. In the past the conference has provided translators for particular workshops already offered in English. Also new is a workshop on profitability for small farms.

Registration costs $45 per person until Feb. 2, then increases to $65 per person from Feb. 3-14 and $100 per person on the day of the conference — if space is still available.

Organizers will cap attendance at 800 people. In the past, the popular conference has surpassed 800 attendees, said Garry Stephenson, the coordinator of OSU’s Small Farms Program, which organizes the event.

“I think there’s a huge social aspect to the conference — for a lot of people, this is the only time of year they get to see each other, so there’s a lot of interaction and networking,” said Stephenson. “We also bring in speakers who challenge people to think differently and offer a variety of workshops.”

This year, attendees can register for specific workshops. The conference features 24 workshops in three concurrent sessions, as well as a lunch prepared with locally produced food.

Workshops include financing a farm, growing quinoa in the Northwest, selling produce to schools and hospitals, transitioning to organic agriculture and health insurance options for farmers.

The conference is geared toward farmers, agriculture professionals, food policy advocates, students and managers of farmers markets.

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For more information and to register, go to http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/sfc.

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