MONTROSE – With a focus on sustainably improving production, marketing and consumption of locally grown food products – from small-acreage farms to livestock production – the first ever Western Colorado Food and Farm Forum, on Thursday, Jan. 10, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., will include more than 30 educational workshops on a wide variety of farm-, ranching- and food-related topics.
Organized into three primary categories covering crops, livestock and business management, the daylong forum will bring a wealth of knowledge to both longtime and prospective food producers on the Western Slope.
“This forum will bring so much knowledge to one place and it will be here on the Western Slope,” said Valley Food Partnership President Carol Parker. “In the past, farmers and ranchers would have to travel to Brighton [Colo.] to attend a conference like this. With this forum here, they won’t have to travel to the other side of the state.”
The Western Colorado Food and Farm Forum is a collaborative effort between the Valley Food Partnership, CSU Tri-River Area Extension Service, the Small Business Development Center and the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Cooperative and Economic Development Center.
Those attending the forum will be able to choose workshops for each of the six breakout sessions scheduled throughout the day. Parker says the seminars will cover marketing strategies to attract and retain customers, innovative labor options, farm food safety plans, livestock grazing systems, production and processing management.
Other seminars include organic and natural certification processing, developing farm internship programs, and developing specialty crops and farm management.
The forum will benefit anyone interested in learning what it takes to start a small-acreage agriculture business, covering everything from how to choose the best seed varieties for the Western Slope to starting an agri-tourism business.
“There will be a lot of information at the forum, especially information that relates to farming and ranching here on the Western Slope,” Parker said.
Dr. Fred Provenza, Professor Emeritus from Utah State University, will deliver the forum’s keynote address, “The Web of Life: How Behavior Connects Humans, Animals and Landscapes.”
For the past 37 years, Provenza has played a major role in groundbreaking research, laying the foundation for what is now known as behavior-based management of landscapes. Along with colleagues and graduate students, he has authored or co-authored 250 publications in peer-reviewed journals and books; he has been an invited speaker at over 325 conferences.
His research efforts led to the formation in 2001 of an international network of scientists and land managers from five continents. That consortium, known as BEHAVE, integrates behavioral principles and processes with local knowledge to enhance ecological, economic and social values of rural and urban communities. The goal is to create Locally Adapted Networks that help people use behavioral principles and processes to foster healthy relationships among soil, plants, herbivores, and people. All creatures, from those that live in the soil to aboveground plants and and animals (including humans) creatures are constantly challenged to transform as all facets of the earth are continually changing.
Registration for the all-day forum is $45 in advance or $60 at the door, and includes lunch plus morning and afternoon refreshments. Anyone interested in attending needs to register on the CSU Extension website at www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/TRA/farmforum.shtml.
For more information about the event visit valleyfoodpartners.org.