2019 Conference Program

August 11-13, 2019 | Texas State University | San Marcos, Texas

Program | SpeakersConference Sponsors | Exhibitors

This year’s Farm & Food Leadership Conference offers a full day of producer & youth workshops on Sunday August 11, followed by two days packed with informative and inspiring sessions on Monday, August 12 – Tuesday, August 13.  The main conference includes six concurrent tracks for more educational opportunities than ever!

View the full schedule here (times & speakers may change).

Sunday, August 11, approx. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Pre-conference workshops for producers.

(Details are below, after the main conference schedule.)

Monday & Tuesday, August 12-13, approx. 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (Lunch is provided)


Plenary with Texas State Representatives Eddie Rodriguez, Todd Hunter & Stan Lambert

Policy Track

  • The Impact of Corporate Consolidation:  Patty Lovera & Doug Constance
  • Running for Office:  Kim Olson
  • What the 2019 Texas Legislative Session Means for Local Food: Judith McGeary
  • Food Sovereignty & Community Food Control: Cristina Dominguez-Eshelman, Diana Padilla, Juan Raygoza

Homesteader/Gardener Track

  • Nutrition & Health:  Dr. Lane Sebring
  • The Three Pillars of Beekeeping:  Dennis Gray
  • Foraging & Hunting:  Sean Wall & Jesse Griffiths
  • Rainwater Collection & Water-Smart Landscaping:  Billy Kniffen

Crop Production Track

  • Sustainable Texas Fruit Production:  Dr. Jim Kamas, Glen Miracle
  • Annual Variety Trials:  Dr. Daniel Leskovar
  • Olive & Grape Production:  Cara Gambini, Brianna Crowley
  • Crop Planning:  Pedro Schambon

Livestock Track

  • Getting the Best Value from Your Processor: Wendy Taggart
  • Sheep & Goat Health
  • Genetics & Ranching:  Josh Eilers & Travis Krause
  • Healthy Soils Through Grazing:  Deborah Clark, Jenny Pluhar, & Justin Graham

Business and Marketing Track

  • Holistic Planning:  Kathy Harris & Peggy Sechrist
  • Launching & Diversifying a Farm Operation:  Butch Tindell
  • Value-Added Production Options: Sue Beckwith & Stephanie McClenny
  • Online Options for Producers: James Maiocca, Richard Sechrist, Sam Eder, & Sam Lillie

Small-Group Q&A

  • Small Producer Stakeholder Meeting:  Katie Tritsch
  • Opportunities for Veterans in Agriculture:  Erin Kimbrough & Justin Duncan
  • The Funding Ecosystem: Debt Basics & Beyond Debt:  Jarred Maxwell, Tim Traister, Bertha Venegas, & Katie Jolander

Monday Keynote & Farm-to-Table Dinner: Mark Shepard*


Keynote: Deborah Clark & Emry Birdwell

Policy Track

  • Food Access: Susie Marshall, Alex Canepa, & Angela Worth
  • Water Policy: Robert Mace, Texas Rep. Erin Zwiener, & Charlie Flatten
  • GMO Basics and Hot News:  Howard Vlieger & Alan Lewis

Homesteader/Gardener Track

  • Finding Good Food:  Alan Lewis & Nora Chovanec
  • Home Gardening:  Zach Halfin
  • Youth & Local Food: Max Elliott, Rocio Hernandez, & Helenka Ostrum

Crop Production Track

  • Agroforestry: Techniques for Texas:  Mark Shepard
  • Soil Health Principles: Willie Durham
  • Alternative Uses of Cropland:  James Brown, Zack Yanta, & Eric Herm

Livestock Track

  • Scaling Up Pastured Poultry: Rob Cunningham and Jane Levan
  • Diversifying with Hunting Leases, Agritourism, and Wilding:  Pam Mitchell, Justin Dreibelbis, Sean Wall, & Matthew Williams
  • How to Monitor Your Pastures: Colin Mitchell & Kara Kroeger

Business & Marketing Track

  • Specialty Crop Market:  Abbie Hannon & Robert Maggiani
  • Wholesale Readiness:  Kara Kroeger, Foodshed Investors, & Diana & Saul Padilla
  • Local Food Logistics:  Robert Maggiani & Caroline Krejci

Small-Group Q&A

  • Fermentation Basics:  Abby Wetzel
  • Connecting With Mid-Scale Buyers:  Natural Grocers, Wheatsville, Common Market

*Our farm-to-table dinner takes place Monday at 6 p.m. in the J.C. Kellam Administration Building on the TSU campus. The keynote speaker for the dinner will be Mark Shepard, author of the book Restoration Agriculture: Real World Permaculture for Farmers and a worldwide teacher of agroforestry and permaculture. More information on the dinner is available here.

Pre-Conference Workshops

Sunday, August 11, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.; full- or half-day workshops for farmers and producers. Lunch will be provided for anyone attending a full-day workshop or both morning and afternoon workshops.


Where do you begin to transition land from non-farm use or a traditional one-crop farm to a sustainable, diversified farm with healthy soil and minimal input? It all begins with earth shaping and water management. Learn from certified permaculture designer and author of the book Restoration Agriculture, Mark Shepard, how to assess and utilize the unique characteristics of your land to manage water and build the best soil.

Learn about keyline design and expand your knowledge of how water moves across landscapes and how farmers can slow and spread water so it can either be stored  or allowed to infiltrate soil to recharge groundwater. Mark also will introduce the concept of perennial crops and agriforestry and the way those plants produce more edible calories per acre than conventional row crops while preventing erosion and creating soil.


How can a small-scale farmer or rancher access the same economies of scale and achieve the same market saturation as their much larger competitors? By Cooperating! Cooperation–with other farmers, with customers, and with a range of community members–can help farmers achieve success as vital parts of the food system. Led by Annelies Lottmann, co-op development experts and co-op founders from around the state will explore the many ways that cooperation can build strong, resilient farmer and rancher networks as well as a committed, reliable customer base. This full-day interactive workshop will address the following topics:

    • Reducing expenses and increasing market access through co-ops.
    • Start-up process basics.
    • Roundtable discussion with existing Texas agricultural co-op participants.
    • Co-op business planning and design.
    • Worker cooperative farms and cooperative land trusts.
    • Legal and tax considerations for cooperatives.


Small to mid-scale fruit and vegetable growers interested in learning about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule, Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), and co-management of natural resources and food safety will benefit from this comprehensive course. Participants will learn the “why and how” of managing food safety risks, standard operating procedures, and documentation to meet FSMA requirements, regardless of farm size. Upon completing, this course will give you the requisite certification as regulated by the Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule § 112.22(c). Participants completing the entire course and documentation will receive a certificate from the Association of Food and Drug Officials. This course is partially supported by a grant from the NIFA Food Safety Outreach Competitive Grants Program in association with the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (TOFGA).


This workshop is for farms and small distributors who hold, aggregate, and distribute food for human consumption who are interested in learning about their compliance needs for the Food Safety Modernization (FSMA) Facilities Rule and good handling practices for small facilities. Participants will learn about FDA registration, FSMA modified requirements, record keeping, general sanitation, and an overview of third-party audits.


This workshop will focus on the benefits of good record-keeping and how those records translate into financial opportunities such as low-interest loans and grants. Led by Tim Traister, Senior Relationship Manager with Capital Farm Credit; Katie Jolander, Farm Service Agency; Jarred Maxwell and Eric DeValpine from Foodshed Investors.


This workshop will introduce market managers to SNAP incentive programs like Double Up Food Bucks and provide an overview of the administrative requirements and implementation methodologies. Since every farmers’ market has its own challenges, strengths, and limitations, attendees will gain an understanding of the various costs and benefits in operating an incentive program at their markets. Additionally, information will be provided on the process for joining the Double Up network in Texas.

Topics will include:

    • General overview of incentive programs
    • Brief history of Double Dollars/Double Up Food Bucks
    • Program types and/or methodologies to implementation
    • Market readiness
    • Application process
    • Applying for a FNS Number
    • General program costs
    • Administrative processes
    • Reporting tools

Facilitators will be Sustainable Food Center’s Hilda Gutiérrez, Food Access Director, & Alex Mace, Double Dollars Food Access Manager.

7.  FARM & GARDEN FOR YOUTH:  We’re sorry, but this workshop has been cancelled.