Ikerd highlights farming with values event

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MOUNT PLEASANT, Pa. – Agricultural economist John Ikerd, well-known in the sustainable agriculture community around the world, will be the keynote speaker for a Feb. 27-29 farming conference at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center.

The farmer-focused weekend will feature three sets of farmer-led workshops Saturday.

Guest speaker. One of the most sought-after speakers on the subject of alternative farming, Ikerd will focus his speech on the conference theme, “Farming with Values that Last: Family, Community, Land, Faith.”

He is professor emeritus of agricultural economics at the University of Missouri.

Ikerd will also speak separately about his personal experience in moving from the conventional agriculture model (still promoted by the USDA and many land-grant colleges) to becoming an advocate for sustainable farming methods.

Ikerd will join 10 farmers and others specialists as each leads one of the 14 Saturday workshops.

Itinerary. The day will open with worship followed by Ikerd’s keynote at 8:30 a.m. then conclude with worship and open sharing of personal stories related to faith and farming.

The day is designed to give maximum value to one-day attendees. It combines principles, practical help and time for reflection on motivations, values and attitudes.

Gary Daught, a Mennonite pastor and Bible scholar from Tuscon, Ariz., will lead three Bible study sessions.

Leading the Sunday morning worship meditation will be Susan Sommer, administrator for the Illinois Mennonite Conference and affiliated with Sommer Brothers Seeds.

In addition to workshops and large group sessions, there will be time on Saturday for informal interaction and viewing of commercial displays.

Lineup. Workshops are one hour long and include:

Stewardship of land, life and family

* Walking the Talk of Sustainability – John Ikerd (keynote speaker; former ag economics professor, popular speaker and writer on sustainable agriculture issues)

* Stewardship of God’s Land – David Kline, Fredericksburg, Ohio, (farmer, naturalist, author, editor)

* What is Sustainability, Anyway? – Lee Good, Lititz, Pa., (teacher, environmental science; farm family)

* Going Organic: Essential Conversions of Mind and Land – Brent & Regina Beidler, Randolph Center Vermont, (pasture-based dairy, farmer/owners of Organic Valley Cooperative)

* Sustainable Farm Families: Boundaries and Choices that Matter – Becky Kretschmann, Rochester Pa., (mother of three on multiple-enterprise, direct-sale and wholesale farm)

Livestock and grazing

* Healthy Animals, Healthy Food, Healthy Families – Roman Stoltzfoos, Kinzer, Pa., (pasture-based organic dairy and livestock, on-farm educator)

* Adding Value at Home: The Joys and Demands of On-farm Diary Processing – Kim Seeley, Troy Pa., (dairy farmer/processor/marketer)

* Safely Processing Pastured Poultry – Eli Rieff, Mifflinburg Pa., (on-farm custom poultry processor, well-versed in state and federal regs)

* Top Crops for Grazing Systems – Marvin Hall, State College Pa., (professor of forage management, Penn State University)

Horticultural Production and Marketing

* Starting and Operating a Small-Town Farmers’ Market – Eric Kurtz, Goshen, Ind., (assistant manager of Mill Race Farmers Market)

* Market Farming for the Future – Roy Brubaker, Mifflintown Pa., (family-farm CSA and organic wholesale co-op member)

* Blueberry Culture for Fun and Profit – Liz Hunsberger, Milroy Pa., (small-scale CSA market farmer, horticulturist)

* Building a Wholesale Vegetable Producer Co-op – Don Kretschmann, Rochester Pa., (large-scale CSA, wholesale vegetable/berry market farm)

* Fresh from Ontario: The First 15 Years of Reesor Farm Market – Jay Reesor, Markham Ontario, (ag econ major and market farmer, on-farm market & bakery owner/operator)

Costs. Total costs for the whole weekend (lodging, food and registration) range from $145 to $186, depending on lodging arrangements.

A non-lodging “commuter” rate is $107 for all weekend. Part-time attendance rates, with meals: Friday night, $25; Saturday, $75; Sunday, $25.

Laurelville Mennonite church Center is about 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, just off Route 31.

Learn more. For information, call 800-839-1021 or 724-423-2056, write Farming with Values, LMCC, Route 5, Box 145, Mt. Pleasant PA 15666-8908, or e-mail SustainableFarming@laurelville.org.

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