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Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Conference

Posted in Ranch Report

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to travel to Mobile, Alabama to attend a conference hosted by the Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SAWG).  This conference, in its 23rd year, gives family farm operators practical tools and solutions to improve sustainability.  As always, the conference offers a wealth of knowledge and new ideas, and is an incredible networking opportunity to meet over 1,000 farmers and producers working towards similar goals. 

Conference participants are invited to attend an enormous selection of informational sessions on topics related to food and agriculture, ranging from organic production (of vegetables, livestock, fruit and cut flowers) to marketing, youth engagement, soil health, and policy change advocacy.  A series of networking sessions are also set up so that groups can gather to discuss some of the successes and challenges related to their work. 

Some of the most notable sessions that I attended included:
•    Producing and Marketing Sheep
•    Community and School Gardening
•    Succession Planning for Vegetable and Flower Production
•    Creating Cooperative Farming Ventures
•    Marketing Opportunities for Cut Flowers
•    Value-Added Livestock Production
•    Fostering and Supporting Youth Leaders Through Farm and Garden Projects
•    Exploring the Benefits of Moveable Hoophouses

As you can see from the list above, there was a diverse range of topics covered. Information on many of these subjects can be difficult to discover, which makes this conference a valuable asset for anyone working in agriculture.

This annual gathering falls at a great time of year, enabling participants to formulate ideas and plans for the upcoming growing season.  For me, it is always an energizing experience and a great motivator for the busy spring months ahead.  This coming year at Rock Bottom Ranch we will use much of the information gathered from these sessions to improve sustainability as well as to develop new programs that will improve our educational reach in the schools and community.

If you are interested about hearing more about any of these topics, please feel free to contact me at jsmith@aspennature.org.  I look forward to welcoming you to Rock Bottom Ranch for our daily farm tours and upcoming spring and summer events.

 ~ Jason Smith, Rock Bottom Ranch Director