Held February 10-11, 2012
Holiday Inn, Koger Center
Our plenary speakers were:
Mary-Howell and Klaas Martens, the Friday afternoon keynote speakers for our conference, were conventional grain farmers in New York until Klaas began to develop health problems due to pesticide exposure in 1991. Following the examples of other organic farmers, the Martens began transitioning to organic production in 1992. They received invaluable assistance from a neighbor named Cliff Peterson concerning weed control through mechanical cultivation. They also learned a great deal about management of soil fertility, organic quality control and adding value to their organic grains by producing livestock feeds. Today they operate 1300 acres organically with higher profits per acre than they ever earned using conventional practices.
The keynote speaker at the Virginia Biological Farming Conference in 2009 was Will Allen with Growing Power from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mr. Allen described the incredible system he developed for commercial production of horticulture crops in urban neighborhoods of Milwaukee and Chicago. This inner city farming is based on utilization of compost made from food wastes collected from many urban sources such as restaurants, bakeries and institutional food services.
Renee Catacalos and Christian Melendez from ECO City Farms in Edmonston, Maryland provided the second keynote presentation at the 2012 Virginia Biological Farming Conference. They spoke about their successful development of the Growing Power model for urban horticulture in their city in Maryland. Many people have heard Will Allen speak but these folks at ECO City Farms have actually employed the Growing Power model.
Beginning farmer program was held one day prior to conference:
“Starting a New Farm Enterprise”