From the seasoned farmer to the agri-curious, Southern SAWG’s Annual Conference is an event for all!
Southern SAWG’s 27th Annual Conference is right around the corner, and the lineup of classes and activities look amazing! People from 13 states in the South will gather at the Chattanooga Convention Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee to learn about Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms. The general conference takes place on Friday, January 19th and Saturday, January 20th, but pre-conference courses and half-day field trips take place on Wednesday, January 17th and Thursday, January 18th. It’s my first time attending Southern SAWG’s conference, and rumor has it that this is an event you don’t want to miss!
With more than 1,000 farmers, home-growers, and sustainable agriculture advocates attending, the conference is the perfect opportunity to network with likeminded individuals, meet up with friends, and get the word out about your food and farming projects. SAWG’s conference evaluations show that over 90% of attendees come away with new knowledge that they can immediately put into practice, and an even greater percent feel that the best part of weekend is networking with so many people. Sustainability and socializing, what’s not to love about that?
More than 90 expert presenters will lead sessions during the general conference, covering topics such as: urban farming, the history of race and agriculture in the South, vegetable grafting, animal welfare, new farmer training, organic grain production, growing and marketing mushrooms, and rural economic development.
In addition to offering classes that cover practically every sustainable farming topic out there, SAWG invites leading agriculture innovators to speak and present. Mark Cain, of Dripping Springs Garden in Arkansas, will deliver the welcome and opening keynote address this year. Mark has been cultivating Dripping Springs Garden with his partner, Michael Cane, since 1984, and together they’ve realized their dreams of owning a thriving, educational, and regenerative farm.
1) Mark Cain, 2) Davon Goodwin, 3) Lindsey Lusher Shute
On Saturday, two members of the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC), Davon Goodwin and Lindsey Lusher Shute, will discuss their vision for the next generation of farmers and share how NYFC works to support them. Davon, a veteran and first-generation farmer, runs Off the Land Farms in North Carolina and serves on the board of the NYFC. Lindsey not only acts as the Executive Director of the NYFC, but she also operates Hearty Roots Farm in New York. Lindsey’s inspiring and effective work with the NYFC also garnered the attention of President Barack Obama, who recognized her as a “Champion of Change.”
The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group’s annual conference is an event for anyone who wants to create a more ecologically sound, resilient, economically secure, humane, and just agricultural system. By connecting a variety of organizations and community members across 13 Southern states, SSAWG advances the belief that everyone must have a voice in envisioning a sustainable food system.
Katie Schroeder is the 2017-2018 Home Grower Program and Outreach Coordinator and AmeriCorps service member at Organic Growers School. Katie graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied Public Health and Nutrition. During her time at school, Katie also developed interests in the environmental health and social justice implications of the food system, and she spent time volunteering on urban farms and engaging in food justice activism. Now in Western NC, Katie hopes to learn all about the region’s vibrant local food movement, and she’s excited to serve with OGS to increase the number of home growers and farmers here!