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Kansas Rural Center Announces Sustainable Agriculture Conference and Celebration, Featuring Slate of Renowned Speakers, Educational Workshops, Special Events

August 01, 2014
The Kansas Rural Center invites farmers, ranchers, food enthusiasts, community advocates and more to attend its 2014 Farm & Food Conference and 35th Anniversary Celebration, Nov. 7 and 8, at the Four Points Sheraton, Manhattan, Kansas.

The conference, "Sustainable Agriculture: A Once and Future Vision," will celebrate KRC's 35th Anniversary and focus on the future of agriculture, food, and community in Kansas and our region. Information for registrants, sponsors and exhibitors can be found at kansasruralcenter.org/calendar/conference-2014.

Scheduled keynote speakers include:Bryan Welch, Editor and Publisher, Mother Earth News, will keynote KRC's 35th Anniversary Dinner on Friday night of the conference. Welch, who raises cattle, sheep, goats and chickens on a 50-acre farm near Lawrence, will provide a vision for the future of the sustainability movement. He is the author of Beautiful and Abundant: Building the World We Want, and will sign copies of his book to benefit KRC during a pre-dinner Cocktail Reception.

Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow at Iowa's Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and President of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in New York, will speak about alternative paradigms for the future of agriculture. Dr. Kirschenmann is a theologian, philosopher, farmer and leading voice in the dialogue about the challenges of modern agriculture and the pursuit of sustainable agriculture. He also manages his family's 1,800-acre certified organic farm in south central North Dakota.

Ricardo Salvador, Senior Scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists and Director of its Food & Environment Programs, will address the impact of global realities on the future of food. Dr. Salvador has served as a program officer with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and as an extensionist with Texas A&M University. He was an associate professor of agronomy at Iowa State University, where he taught the first course in sustainable agriculture at a Land Grant University, in 1989. He also conducted some of the initial academic research on the "community supported agriculture" model of agriculture.

Bob Dixson, Mayor of Greensburg, Kansas, will explore perspectives on the development of healthy, sustainable communities, especially regarding the inclusion of sustainable farming and food. After a tornado devastated their community in 2007, Dixon and others led Greensburg to become a nationally recognized sustainable community. Dixon planted and tends the so-called "vacant lot vineyard" in Greensburg, and also consults with communities around the country in times of crisis after natural disasters.

Hattie Mitchell, CPA and Treasurer of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, will share perspectives on the future of sustainable community food solutions and health within the Potawatomi Nation. Mitchell was a 2013 40 Under 40 recipient, an honor given to emerging American Indian leaders in Indian Country by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) organization. She has served as the Potawatomi Nation's Treasurer since 2012.

Julie Mettenburg, Executive Director of KRC, will address the question of who will farm in the future, and land stewardship in a time of transition. In addition to her leadership of KRC programs and activities, Mettenburg is involved in the transition of her family farm in Eastern Kansas from the third to fourth generation of stewards, with a vision for the future for its fifth generation. She has been instrumental in transitioning the farm to grass-finishing and direct-marketing of meats and livestock products to area consumers.

A full two-day slate of conference workshops will provide inspiring ideas, helpful information and valuable connections for attendees, ranging from practical farm management, diversification and transition strategies, to community and food advocacy training. A detailed agenda is expected by early September.

KRC will also host a cocktail reception and 35th Anniversary Dinner Celebration on Friday evening. The celebration will feature live music, locally sourced food and beverages, and a silent auction featuring Kansas artisans, goods and service. The night will also include a book-signing to benefit KRC, featuring authors Bryan Welch, Hank Will, Jane Marshall of KSU, Joy Lominska of KRC, and more.

KRC welcomes sponsors and exhibitors for the conference, as well as local food and beverage donations and auction items. Proceeds will benefit KRC's future work in growing a sustainable farming and food system in Kansas. Information on all of these opportunities can be found at kansasruralcenter.org/calendar/conference-2014.

The mission of KRC, founded in 1979, is to promote the long-term health of the land and its people through research, education and advocacy that advance an economically viable, ecologically sound, and socially just food and farming system. For more information, visit www.kansasruralcenter.org.


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