Experts on organic field crop production will present at day-long seminar

A coalition of Midwestern agricultural organizations will join forces to hold a one-day seminar for farmers who are considering a transition to organic field crop production. The seminar will be held from 8:00a.m.-5:00p.m. at Dorr Township Hall in Woodstock, IL on January 13, 2016. The program costs $40 per registrant, and $20 for each additional farm or family member, which includes lunch and a resource packet. Scholarships are available. Dorr Township Hall is located at 1039 Lake Avenue, Woodstock, Illinois. Registration is open until January 6 and can be found here: http://thelandconnection.org/farmers/farmer-training-intensives/grains

“Demand continues to outstrip the available supply of organic grains across the US,” says Wyatt Muse, an organic grower and a merchandiser with Clarkson Grain, which specializes in “identity-preserved grains”. “This leaves the market relying on imported grains. Raising organic crops domestically saves the ocean freight expense and keeps local dollars in the hands of local farmers. Further, the income opportunity for raising certified organic crops surpasses anything available in conventional markets. Consumers continue to ask for it and remain willing to vote with their wallets.” Muse will speak in detail at the seminar about the many market opportunities available for organic producers.

Gary McDonald, a Springfield-based farmer and organic transition consultant, went organic in the 1980s after seeing it work on other farms, and will speak at the event about weed management and cultivation. Other farmers speaking at the event will include Jack Erisman, who has been farming organically since the early 1990s on over 2,000 acres near Pana, Illinois, and Harold Wilken, who organically farms the 1,100-acre Janie’s Farm in Danforth, Illinois. Harriet Behar, Senior Organic Specialist with the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service in Wisconsin, will provide instruction on organic certification, and Richard Ritter of Flanagan State Bank will share his findings from two years of research on financing and cash flows on organic farms. These and other experts will be available to share their knowledge through panel discussions and breakout groups throughout the day.

Covering topics like soil fertility management, crop rotation, marketing and financing options, and certification, this event is not to be missed by any farmer considering transitioning to long-term renewable growing practices. The event comes on the heels of the well-received Organic Grain Transition Seminar held by The Land Connection at the Champaign County Farm Bureau in March 2015.

This event is held in partnership with The Liberty Prairie Foundation, Angelic Organics Learning Center, The Land Conservancy, the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, and the Illinois Organic Growers Association.

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