Practical farmers

Amber Mohr of Fork Tail Farm in Avoca and Denise O'Brien of Rolling Acres Farm in Atlantic walk among O'Brien's crops at her farm in this file photo. O'Brien mentors new farmers, including Mohr, to be the next generation of Iowa's agricultural backbone.

Registration is now open for Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2020 annual conference, “Reclaiming Resilience,” which will take place Jan. 16-18 at the Iowa State Center Scheman Building on the Iowa State University campus in Ames. All are welcome, according to a release.

The conference will examine the current state of farms and food systems and explore ways to help family farms survive into the future.

The event attracted more than 800 farmers, researchers and supporters last year. Conference highlights include:

• A keynote address by New Zealand agroecologist Nicole Masters, a systems thinker, author and educator who is director of the New Zealand-based Integrity Soils. Nicole has a formal background in ecology, soil science and organizational learning, and is author of “For the Love of Soil: Strategies to Regenerate Our Food Production Systems.” She and her team of soil coaches work with producers in the U.S., Canada and across Australasia.

• Sixty-two sessions on topics that span the agricultural spectrum. Some sessions are planned specifically for landowners, non-farmers and beginning farmers.

• Four pre-conference short courses: “Organic Weed Control,” “Planning for Farmland Succession,” “Commercial Apple Orcharding” and “Growing Pasture-Raised Meat Supply Chains.” All courses run Thursday, Jan. 16 from 1 to 6:30 p.m. and continue Friday, Jan. 17 from 8 to 11:30 a.m., at the Scheman Building.

• A new hands-on youth session designed for children 4 and older focused on creating bee houses.

• Certified crop adviser credits for 34 sessions and three of the short courses.

• Many opportunities to network and build relationships with other farmers, researchers, consumers and sponsors – including during the free breakfast served on Saturday morning.

• Presentation of awards.

Registration: Walk-in registration is allowed, but those who pre-register by Jan. 9 will save $10 per day. Special rates are also available for students and Practical Farmers of Iowa members. Register online, or contact Debra Boekholder at or (515) 232-5661.

Full details are at available at

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