Mark Schonbeck has worked for 30 years as a researcher, consultant, educator, and advocate in sustainable and organic agriculture, and has served as VABF’s newsletter editor since 1997 and VABF policy liaison with National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) since 2002. He takes an integrated, site-specific approach to soil test interpretation and recommendations for organic growers, including production inputs, cover cropping, ecological weed management, and other aspects of crop production. Since 2010, he has worked with NSAC and Organic Farming Research Foundation in conducting in-depth analysis of USDA conservation and organic research programs.

Mark lives in a cooperative land-sharing community in Floyd County, Virginia since 1991. He helps manage the community’s food garden (0.25 – 0.5 acre), through which he gained first-hand knowledge of the pests, diseases, and other production challenges that Virginia organic farmers face every day.

Conference Session: What’s the News from Organic Soil Health Research? Practical Applications for Your Farm

Healthy, living soil is the cornerstone of all successful farming, yet it can be challenging for organic producers to optimize soil health and crop nutrition while maintaining satisfactory weed control. Recent research in soil biology, cover crops, nutrient dynamics, ecological weed management, and conservation tillage for organic systems has yielded new practical information that organic farmers can use to meet this challenge. In this session, we will explore and discuss research findings that you can use now optimize soil health, crop nutrition and weed control on your farm.

Conference Session: Working Together to Shape the 2018 Federal Farm Bill: a Policy Priorities Listening Session

Presenters: Greg Fogel, Senior Policy Specialist, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and Mark Schonbeck, independent consultant and policy liaison for VABF

The next farm bill is just around the corner, so now is the time to bring farmers’ voices to the policy table. In this Farm Bill listening session, offered by National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) in partnership with VABF, we will provide a succinct update on farm bill preparation – then it will be your turn to share your concerns and priorities for the next Farm Bill. We want to hear from you on organic issues, research and conservation, beginning farmer issues, local and regional food systems, land access, crop insurance, credit, commodity reform, minority farmers and civil rights, marketing programs, nutrition and food access programs, and more! Our goal is to ensure that sustainable and organic producers’ needs and priorities drive NSAC’s Farm Gill Campaign. The listening session is open to farmers, ranchers, and advocates with all levels of policy expertise (including none at all!).

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