Noble Foundation, ODAFF host upcoming conference to highlight Oklahoma agritourism, alternative agriculture

The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (ODAFF) will host a two-day conference in November to promote agritourism and alternative agriculture opportunities in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Agritourism and Alternative Agriculture Conference will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 6 and 7, at the Ardmore Convention Center. The first day of the conference will feature a series of farm and agritourism tours, including a pecan farm, a berry patch, an orchard and the Noble Foundation's Hoop House project, among others. Day two of the conference will include a variety of agritourism seminars from how to reduce insurance premiums to financing alternative agriculture ventures.

"This conference is focused on agricultural operators currently working with agritourism in mind, as well as those who are interested in diversifying their farming and ranching operations," said Shan Ingram, the Noble Foundation's Education and Special Projects Manager. "This conference offers an excellent opportunity to learn more about agritourism and how it can benefit an agricultural operation."

The conference will feature nationally acclaimed direct marketing and agritourism expert Jane Eckert, who is founder of St. Louis-based Eckert AgriMarketing. "Jane is passionate about saving family farms through alternative agriculture and agritourism ventures," said Abby Cash, director of agritourism for the ODAFF. "Not only has she traveled the country promoting agritourism and direct marketing, she has helped turn her own family orchard into one of the leading tourist destinations in the country. Jane can relate directly to agricultural producers."

Other speakers will include Bill Cornelsen and Homer Martin. Both men have worked with the Noble Foundation's agricultural consultation program, which assists more than 1,400 farmers and ranchers in 47 Oklahoma and Texas counties, enabling them to improve their farm production and reach their individual financial and quality-of-life goals.

The program also includes Keith Lowry, a motivational speaker from Dallas renowned for his knowledge of customer satisfaction, service and hospitality, and Mark Schnepf from Schnepf Farms in Arizona, who will explain how alternative agriculture and agritourism saved his family farm.

Registration is $100 for the two-day conference if received by Thursday, Oct. 25. Registration after that day is $125. There are reduced fees for those attending the conference for only one day.

For additional information or to register, contact Annie Coble with the Noble Foundation at 580.224.6501 or by e-mail at [email protected] or contact Sharra Martin with the ODAFF at 405.522.4330.

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