Posts Tagged ‘small farms conference’

Small Farm Conf 2011

August 2-4, 2013

The 5th Annual Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference promises to inform and inspire agricultural innovators.

Join us August 2-4 in Kissimmee, Florida for farm tours, a trade show, networking opportunities, live animal exhibits, hands-on workshops, and delicious locally-grown food! Don’t miss this chance to learn more about farming as well as alternative enterprises such as beekeeping, hydroponics, grass-fed beef and more.  You will have the opportunity to interact with other farmers and industry professionals and get all of your questions answered.

Early bird registration discount is available.  Register today at: http://www.conference.ifas.ufl.edu/smallfarms/registration.html


Osceola Heritage Park
1875 Silver Spur Lane
Kissimmee, FL 34744
Tel: 321-697-3333

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Gabriele Marewski is an Innovative Farmer.

Local organic farmer Gabriele Marewski was recognized with the Florida Innovative Farmer Award at the 2012 Small Farm and Alternative Enterprise Conference this summer. (She joins Eva and Chris Worden of Worden Farm, organic growers in Punta Gorda, who were given the same award in 2010.)

Gabriele owns and operates Paradise Farms Organic, which is known for the Dinner in Paradise fine dining series every winter/spring. A portion of the proceeds from each dinner series is donated to small local non-profits. This season, Urban Greenworks and Slow Food Miami will receive donations. (Events are the main way that the community can visit the farm, which is otherwise not open to the public.)

In addition to dinners, Sunday morning brunches and occasional farm tours, Paradise Farms has branched out to other ventures, and recently started offering a venue for “sustainable, organic weddings” on the farm. Several cabins are available for B&B overnight stays.

The farm is also venturing into the realm of value-added foods. “We have a large 3’x3’ 24 shelf dehydrator where we are making teas from our edible flowers,” Gabriele said. In addition,”We have received a Value Added Producer Grant from the USDA to dehydrate our oyster mushrooms into a delicious healthy snack for school vending machines.” (The mushroom snacks are still in the focus group tasting stage.) And of course, Gabriele has made a name for herself growing microgreens and edible flowers for high-end restaurants.

Paradise is innovative in that it’s not only an organic farm, but also strictly vegetarian. Meat and meat products are not allowed on the property, whether they be dinner ingredients or farm nutrients. Gabriele is determined to keep it that way. “Vegetarianism is the single most important act to save our planet as it take lots of resources to produce commercial meat and is the biggest single pollutant of our waterways.”

The Innovative Farmer Award is a joint venture by the University of Florida and Florida A&M University to assist the state’s small farms, which are defined as having sales of less than $250,00 a year, and represent more than 90 per cent of all farms in Florida.

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Florida Small Farms Conference

The University of Florida’s (UF) Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) and Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Small Farms and AlternaTeam are pleased to announce that the third annual Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference  will be held in Kissimmee, Florida July 15 – 17, 2011.

Only in its 3rd year, the conference already attracts nearly 800 people. It provides farmers with in-depth, cutting edge educational information; facilitates networking, dialog, and visioning among members of the Florida small farms community, and increases awareness of the small farms industry to decision makers, supporting institutions, and the general public.

Who Should Attend

· Small Family Farms
· Transitional Farmers
· Beginning Farmers
· Allied-industry Reps.
· Educators
· Researchers
· Agricultural Associations
· Policy-makers
· Foundations
· Anyone interested in becoming a part of, and strengthening the small farm community in Florida

Additional Conference Highlights

In addition to the educational sessions and optional pre-conference activities, highlights include:
·    Featured Florida farmers
·    Livestock arena with live animal exhibits
·    Local foods
·    Large exhibition showcasing products and technologies

For more information and to register online

For specific questions, please contact Mandy Stage, conference coordinator, at mstage@ufl.edu

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Didn’t make  it to the 2010 Florida Small Farms Conference? Speaker presentations on Alternative Energy, Alternative Enterprises, Business and Marketing, Horticulture, Livestock, and Organic and Sustainable Farming have been posted as downloadable PDF’s on the conference web site.

Click here for the presentations page.

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Hello Redland Ramblers!

Mangos from Dr. Jonathan Crane at TREC, blueberries from Gail & Mike Waldron in Marion County.

Guest blogger Melissa Contreras here again. It’s been several weeks since the last post, and I apologize for that. Most of that time was spent waiting for photos from the official IFAS photographer, my one reliable source of photos from the conference. The poor overworked guy was traveling with several assignments to keep up with, and apologizes for not getting them out in a timely manner. We forgive him. Life’s too short. As promised, this post details the fabulous Florida local food lunches and the Conference workshops. If it’s not enough, well then I guess you’ll just have to attend next year’s conference!

There are omnivore and vegan options at every year’s conference, and both are amazing, featuring Florida food, real food: meat from pastured animals, vegetables and fruits from our fair state’s wide repertoire, milk from small herds of grass-roaming and grass-eating cows, and eggs from hens which get to freely scratch the soil  and eat a smorgasbord of bugs and assorted plants, expressing their “chicken-ness” under the Sunshine State’s skies.

Omnivores loved the delicious Gilchrist Brand Sausage from Jonnie Thompson of Ocala, who emphasizes humane animal treatment.

The fabulous  selections from this year’s menu:


These delicious dishes were made with food provided from small farms all over Florida. Our Redland farmers provided ‘Donnie’ avocado (Bee Heaven Farm), mangos (Dr. Jonathan Crane of TREC), and longans from Guara Ki farm. Summer in the Redlands  means tropical fruit, so we gave the rest of Florida a taste of the tropics.

Breakout sessions followed several tracks of interest: alternative energy, business and marketing, livestock, horticulture, organic and sustainable farming, policy and regulations. This conference is geared toward small farmers, and there were lots of them present looking for ways to make their farms better, branch out into new enterprises, market their products, and more. This year’s  included urban farmers and local food enthusiasts and activists, in addition to farmers.

Yummy Florida okra and blackeye peas from William Moore at Bluefield Organic Farm in Okeechobee.

The different tracks of interest included valuable lectures and workshops. Here’s a sampling of the workshops: Earth Wind and Fire: Renewable Energy Options; Agritourism; Aquaculture and Aquaponics; Minor Fruit Crops; The Excitement about Social Marketing – How it Can Help Your Operation; Pasture Management; Grass Fed Beef: How Do We Get There?; Poultry Management; Expanding Your Fruit Portfolio: Stone Fruit & Muscadine Grapes; Healthy Schools, Healthy Kids – Florida Farm to School Programs; High-Quality Compost for Organic and Conventional Farms; Advanced Disease Management for Organic Vegetables; Small Farm Friendly Approaches to Food Safety; Diversifying the Income Portfolio for Organic Products; and Direct Marketing Regulations (How to Get Products to Market Legally).  Next year’s workshops will be scheduled according to feedback from this year’s conference.

I am the handsomest rooster at the Small Farms Conference and I approve this message.

It was an information-packed weekend, with plenty of fun and networking.  Vendors in the exhibition hall sold everything from organic t-shirts with organic slogans on them, to fish emulsion fertilizer, to packaging for tomatoes and strawberries, to complete aquaponics systems, to worm poop fertilizer, to hydroponic growing systems, to Florida grass-fed beef, to info about becoming certified organic, and so much more.

And who doesn’t love seeing the animals at the livestock exhibit? I spent an hour in there looking at and sometimes petting cows, llamas and alpacas with babies (below), and lots of interesting and unusual poultry breeds.

We love the local, organic hay at the Small Farms Conference--mmm...

Did I mention that this conference was next door to the national convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses? This made for heavy traffic on Sunday morning, with the JWs in their Sunday best. This explains why they did not come knocking on your door that weekend….(I stand corrected- it was a regional conference, thanks for finding that out Margie. There sure were lots of them… )

So, Marian will be back soon. I have to stop or someone might think I have taken her blog over. A coup de blogue, golpe de blogo, or other messy affair could be suspected, but no worries, she will be back to tell you more of the Redlands and its farmers. Thanks for letting me share…

Gratuitous cuteness.

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