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Small farms conference keynotes to focus on local foods


The importance of locally produced foods to communities across Indiana will be highlighted by keynote speakers at Purdue Extension's Indiana Small Farm Conference.

The March 1 and 2 conference at the Hendricks County Fairgrounds in Danville will be an opportunity for farmers to meet Extension educators, researchers and other producers and form a statewide network of small farms, said Steve Engleking, LaGrange County Extension educator and a conference coordinator.

"Small farms are a significant component to rural communities in Indiana," Engleking said. "We want this conference to bring small farmers together to build a statewide small farm community."

The keynote presentation during the March 1 lunch will be given by David Swenson, community economics research and education specialist with the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. His topic will be "Exploring the Prospects for and the Practical Limits of Local Food Production Initiatives."

Michael Hamm, C.S. Mott Professor of Sustainable Agriculture at Michigan State University, will speak at the dinner that day on "The Potential Impact of Regional Food Systems on Economies, Public Health and Community Development."

The March 2 lunch speaker is disability consultant and farmer Ed Bell of Hagerstown, Ind., who specializes in strawberries. His presentation is titled "Farming My Way."

Meals at the conference will be provided by The Juniper Spoon, a Crawfordsville catering company that will serve food with Indiana-grown ingredients.

The conference will include breakout education sessions in five subject tracks: marking and processing, livestock production, crop production, small farm energy and small farm management.