The conference has a wide array of breakout sessions which convey vital, regionally specific agricultural information in  areas including crops, livestock, agricultural marketing and management, and specialty crops.

Ray Archuleta – Keynote Address

Understanding the Social, Cultural, and Ecological Context of Soil Health- One of the biggest obstacles for improving soil health and promoting regenerative agriculture is the human mind. “If you want to make small changes, change how you do things.  When you want to make major changes, change how you see things!” Global warming, deforestation, soil degradation and other resource depletion problems are caused by the way we think.

Breakout Sessions

Applying Biomimicry Strategies to Improve Soil Function with Ray Archuleta
Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. In this session, learn how farmers and ranchers throughout the country are applying Biomimicry strategies and agroecology principles for improving soil function. Increased soil function help farmers reduce their dependency on costly finite man made petroleum based inputs.

Crimpers, Covers, and Insect Control Boost Competitiveness with Dr. Andrew Smith
Organic vegetable systems gain a competitive edge over pests and weeds to boost crop yields with the use of roller crimping technology, cover crops, compost application and native flower strips. Learn how systems with increased biodiversity help control pests, which covers produce high residue for crimping and the many benefits of improved soil health with covers.

Saline Soil Solutions – Irrigated vegetable production in saline soils poses special challenges. New Mexico State Agronomist, Rudy Garcia reviews examples of soil health management systems consisting of cover cops, minimal till, drip irrigation, diverse cop rotation, pollinators, compost, compost tea, and soil inoculants that address salinity management.

Get a Grip on GAP – Curious about how to prepare for an on farm food safety audit?  Join Steve Lopez, lead auditor for Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling practices from the CDA Fruit and Vegetable Inspection Service for a basic overview. The newly implemented GroupGAP, designed as a more affordable option for smaller producers and cooperatives will also be covered.

Multi-species Grazing – Greg Judy will discuss how adding diversity of animals to your landscape will allow you to harvest more solar energy over your farms.  Each species is unique in their foraging behavior and by adding diversity you’ll actually mimic how nature works. Greg Judy will explain all the positive actions you can expect when you start grazing more than one species.

An Overview of Food Market Trends and Colorado’s Market Channels – Food markets continue to evolve as consumers consider trade-offs across product choices, convenience, market options and price.  This session will explore market trends important to Colorado producers, and present preliminary results of how producers’ performance varies across different marketing channels they participate in including farmers markets, restaurants, farm to school, CSAs.
Session speakers and contributors:
Dawn Thilmany, Becca Jablonski
Graduate Research Assistants Jeremy Christensen and Ellie Naasz

Water Law in a Nutshell – Do terms like appropriation, perfection, use, limitations and abandonment raise a level of concern? Join water attorney Aaron Clay for a review of Colorado water law and gain new clarity on your water and ditch rights.

Berry Good Farming – With 30 varieties under production, Elderado Acres has a U-pick marketing model. Learn how to design, plant, grow, prune, pick and profit from a berry farm with Jim Elder

Small Orchard Management with Larry Traubel – Though dormant some of the year, a small orchard needs year round attention. Take a month by month look at the tasks involved in growing a fruit crop. Pruning, season long pest control, irrigation, harvest timing and fertilization will be covered.

Carbon to Cash Join Brendon Rockey for a tangible lesson in carbon cycling. Session participants will create a soil system and then test its resilience against farm management techniques and nature’s whim. Brendon’s presentation stresses the importance of carbon in a healthy soil system and demonstrates how a functioning carbon cycle can result in economic profits. This get out of your seat experience will enhance your understanding of soil health relationships and have you thinking about how to manage your farm for optimal carbon cycling.

How to Build a Marketing Program and Product List that Supports your Farm with Steve Ela – Building a successful marketing program for your farm involves both what you have to sell and your own personality and comfort levels.  While everyone needs to develop their own approach, certain concepts are key to marketing your farm’s products and finding a market niche.

Tapping Into Grant Resources for Producers – Assess the pros and cons of obtaining a grant as well as how to access a wealth of resources with experienced producers and CSU specialists. Don Lareau and Daphne Yannakakis of Zephyros Farm share lessons learned from receiving Specialty Crop and SARE grants. Organic Farm Research Foundation and many other grant resources will be reviewed with input from Dawn Thilmany and Becca Jablonski of CSU.

Pastured Poultry with Sajun Folsom – What does it take to raise pastured poultry successfully? Whether you raise poultry for sale at market or for personal family use, you need to raise the healthiest, best tasting, and most profitable product you possibly can. This workshop will provide you with knowledge and information that poultry keepers of all experience levels can apply to help you get the most out of your efforts, and most of all, to help you succeed. Topics covered will include, brooder and pasture management, nutritional requirements of your flock, pricing and marketing, and an update on current state processing regulations.

Hemp Opportunities in Colorado – Since the passage of Amendment 64 in 2012, which approved the cultivation of industrial hemp, growers and producers have struggled to advance and support this fledgling industry.  However, research conducted by CSU, now in the second year, has yielded some promising materials for growers to utilize.  Additionally, the CO Dept. of Ag. has worked to improve the viability of hemp as an industrial crop. Finally, several local producers have had success in growing and creating a market for hemp products.  This panel discussion will bring together local producers, industry professionals and researchers in order to facilitate an idea exchange related to this emerging agricultural industry.

Building the Blueprint – How can the Colorado Blueprint for Food and Agriculture help shape the sector’s priorities and policies to sustain the state’s standing as a global leader in production and processing, while maintaining the values of quality of life, health and livable communities as hallmarks of Colorado? Engage in this interactive session with Dawn Thilmany and Becca Jablonski of CSU to have your voice heard.

Innovative Ways to Market your Livestock with Brandon Creamer. In the livestock industry we’re always looking for that top dollar on our livestock. As a rancher have you ever sat down and thought of new pathways for selling your livestock other than just transporting your livestock to the sale barn? During this session you will learn of many new road maps that could help you as a producer market your livestock and gain a higher premium when sold.

Organic Standards – Join the Colorado Department of Ag and local producer Steve Ela to discuss the pros and cons of organic certification. Amy Griner Stafford, Organic Program Manager for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, will be providing an overview of the USDA National Organic Program regulations, and the steps to organic certification. Please bring all your questions about organics, Amy and Steve will be happy to answer them!

Livestock Health Alternatives – Join Doug Wiley for a farmer/stockman’s practical guide to animal health. Homeopathy combined with soil and animal mineral nutrition can be key to maintaining livestock health. A fourth generation farmer shares practical tips from his years of raising cows, pigs, and chickens using alternative methods.

Please be advised that topics and speakers are subject to change.