"Growing Together" is the theme for the 2009 Kansas Farmers' Market Conference scheduled for Mon., Feb. 23, at the Topeka Public Library.
Keynote speakers for the event are Kevin and Charuth Loth, owners of ShadowBrook Farms, a 34-acre diversified, organic farm near Lincoln, Neb.
Based on their 14 years of successes and challenges, the Loths´ morning session will explore opportunities for today´s family farms, assessing everything from community-supported agriculture (CSA) operations and on-farm retail stores to greenhouses and licensed dairies. Their late afternoon session, "Pile It High and Watch It Fly," will address marketing techniques.
The 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. program will also include a session on grants and programs that can assist farmers´ markets and value-added businesses in enhancing their direct marketing. Another session will provide an update on recent changes in the regulation of market products to ensure food safety and provide adequate consumer information.
The first half of the afternoon will provide for five your-choice break-out groups that attend multiple sessions, focused on a single topic:
* Cut flowers and plants,
* Launching or revitalizing a market,
* Meat and dairy,
* Marketing and display, and
* Managers and boards.
The registration fee is $20 per person for sign-ups received by Feb. 13 and $25 thereafter. Those registering late will not be guaranteed a place at the provided lunch.
The conference organizers are the Kansas Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Alternative Crops (KCSAAC), based with Kansas State University Research and Extension; the Kansas Department of Commerce; the Kansas Department of Agriculture; and the Kansas Rural Center.
Funding support for the program is coming from the U.S. Department of Agriculture´s Agricultural Market Service and Specialty Crop Grant Program.