Dec 3, 2020
Indiana Small Farm Conference to go virtual with live and on-demand content

The Indiana Small Farm Conference – Indiana’s premier annual event for the state’s small and diversified farming community – is moving online for 2021, combining live and on-demand content in a variety of topic areas.

The ninth annual conference and trade show will take place March 4-6, with content delivered through the interactive Microsoft Teams application.

Conference registration is open at purdue.ag/sfc, and the fee to attend all three days of the conference is $35 per person.

Since 2013, the conference has featured comprehensive programming about diversified farming and local food systems, bringing together novice and experienced small-scale farmers to:

  • Gain practical guidance from leaders and experts in workshops and breakouts.
  • Join discussions and demonstrations of what’s new and what’s next in small farming.
  • Visit a trade show with vendors of equipment, marketing and more.
  • Network with fellow farmers to cultivate Indiana’s small-farm community.

The Purdue Extension Small Farm Team – an interdisciplinary group made up of representatives from Purdue University’s College of Agriculture and Indiana farmers – plans each year’s conference.

“Although nothing can match the in-person Small Farm Conference experience, we’re excited about this platform to safely provide continuing education and farmer-to-farmer networking for those who power agricultural accomplishments in Indiana,” said Tamara Benjamin, assistant agriculture and natural resources program leader and diversified agriculture specialist for Purdue Extension and a conference organizer. “A virtual presentation can also expand our reach to farmers in surrounding states for whom travel or expenses may be difficult. We look forward to expanding the conference as a hub through which people can continue to learn, network and improve agriculture.”

This year’s conference will offer seven tracks, from which attendees can choose sessions that best align with their farming operations and goals:

  • Advanced Livestock
  • Advanced Vegetable Production
  • Beginning Farmer
  • Farm Business & Marketing Plans
  • Regenerative Agriculture
  • Urban Agriculture
  • Youth Track: Careers in Agriculture/Small Farms

Pre-recorded content in some topic tracks will supplement the live content.

The agenda also includes a bonus topic track in mental health, with pre-recorded videos and resources that will be available on demand and provided free, regardless of conference registration.

“In a year of unprecedented challenges, the conference committee felt it was essential to offer focused, free content about mental health and well-being,” Benjamin said.

The 2021 Indiana Small Farm Conference begins March 4 with on-demand availability for virtual tours of such Indiana farms as Four Flags FarmFreedom Valley Farm and Maple Hills Farm. Testimonials from farmers about how they have persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic also will be available on demand.

Keynote speakers for the 2021 conference will be:

  • Richard Perkins (12:30 to 1:30 p.m. EST, March 5). He is the co-owner, director and lead designer of Ridgedale Farm AB in Värmland, Sweden, author of the internationally renowned Regenerative Agriculture, and producer of the series Making Small Farms Work. Blending dynamic instruction and down-to-earth pragmatism, he promotes a philosophy of permaculture in farming — design strategies that capitalize on patterns and resilient features found in natural ecosystems. Perkins will discuss how focusing on regenerative agriculture can empower small farm enterprises to be resilient, entrepreneurial and profitable.
  • Dan and Julie Perkins (12:30 to 1:30 p.m. EST, March 6). They operate Perkins’ Good Earth Farm, an organic vegetable farm on 20 acres in DeMotte. After balancing a career in soil and water conservation with farming on the side, the Perkins family made a transition to full-time farming in 2019. Dan and Julie Perkins will discuss their experiences in “the beautiful, sometimes chaotic, get-your-hands-dirty, oh-so-satisfying working of the land.”

Poster sessions will highlight research and outreach projects focused on small farms, diversified agriculture and local foods. Anyone wishing to present a poster should submit their proposal online by Jan. 25. Those whose posters are accepted will receive free conference admission.

Vendors also can participate in a virtual trade show, for which they will receive their own designated channel to engage with attendees for the entirety of the conference. Vendor registration is $70, which includes access to all conference sessions. Vendors interested in exhibiting can sign up at purdue.ag/sfc.

Dedicated times to visit vendors and view posters will be offered on March 5 and 6.

Due to the popularity of the Indiana Small Farm Conference, credit card payment is strongly recommended. Attendees will receive Microsoft Teams login information for the conference only after payment is received. If you have a question about registration, email [email protected].

If you require special accommodations to participate in the conference, or have questions about the conference itself, email [email protected] or call 765-494-8490.

A detailed conference schedule will be available in early 2021, and currently scheduled workshops or sessions are subject to change. For more information or to sign up,  visit the Indiana Small Farm Conference website at purdue.ag/sfc.

Follow the conference on Twitter and Instagram at @SmallFarmPurdue or on Facebook at @PurdueExtensionSmallFarms, with the hashtag #PurdueSmallFarms.




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