Conference Program

2017 conference logo

September 24-26 | Historic Downtown McKinney, Texas

General Info | Lodging & Directions | Speakers | On-Farm Dinner | Registration 

Conference Sponsors | Volunteering & Scholarships | Exhibitors | Silent Auction 


Conference Program


Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017: Pre-Conference Workshops | Heard Natural Science Museum

Full-day workshops on holistic planned grazing, on-farm produce safety, and forming co-operatives. Details on the pre-conference workshops can be found below.

NEW PROGRAM ADDITION: Chestnut Square Historic Village, the venue for McKinney’s nationally acclaimed farmers market, is hosting a mixer for all conference attendees, Sunday evening, 5:30-7 p.m. Picnic-style food, beer, and other beverages will be served. Come and enjoy music, food, drinks, and lively conversations! Please RSVP during your online registration.

Monday, Sept. 25, & Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017 | McKinney Performing Arts Center on Downtown Square 


Monday – Times subject to change

9 a.m.: Welcome

9:15-10:15 a.m.: Keynote by Fred Kirschenmann

10:30-noon: Session 1:

  • Activism at the local level
  • Climate change: Looking past the “cause debate” to build resilient systems
  • Access to government resources for small farmers
  • Co-op Q&A

Noon-1:30: Lunch is on your own, with five farm-to-table options on the Square, plus numerous other eateries and shops to visit.

1:30-2:45 p.m.: Session 2

  • Effective legislative advocacy
  • Seed diversity
  • Growing sustainable grains
  • Farmers’ Market Q&A

3:15-4:30 p.m.: Session 3

  • Farm Bill, corporate mergers, and the news from DC
  • Activating your microbiota for health
  • How do we sustain Farm-to-Table?
  • Food Policy Board networking session

6 p.m.: Farm-to-Table Dinner at Pure Land Organic Farm, McKinney, Texas (directions to Pure Land Organic)


Tuesday – Times subject to change

8:30 – 9:30 a.m.: Plenary session with Alan Lewis

9:35 – 10:35 a.m.: Session 1

  • GMO Basics
  • Wild foods: A guide to foraging
  • Opportunities for young farmers and military veterans

10:55 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.: Session 2

  • The latest news and developments with GMOs
  • Protecting pollinators
  • Farmer’s markets … what’s working and what’s not
  • Fermentation demonstration

1:210 – 1:40: Lunch is on your own, with five farm-to-table options on the Square, plus numerous other eateries and shops to visit.

1:40-3:10 p.m.: Session 3

  • Water and the future of our food
  • Food access: how do we get good food to more people?
  • Revenue streams for small farmers
  • Cooking demonstration

3:30-4:45 p.m. Session 4

  • Texas legislative update
  • Home gardening
  • The outlook for local brewers & distillers

4:45 p.m.: Closing


Sunday – 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. (Times subject to change). Lunch is included in all pre-conference workshops.

(And be sure to join us for the mixer afterward, located at Chestnut Square Historic Village, located approximately 4 blocks from the McKinney Downtown Square.)

On-Farm Food Safety for Produce Growers: The new regulatory and legal environment make it imperative that food safety become part of our daily lives. This official PSA Grower Training Course will smooth the transition to regulatory and third-party audit compliance, and make food safety part of growing your business. Coleen Thornton, GLOBAL G.A.P. Food Safety Auditor, farm food safety consultant, and farmer, will provide the “why and how” of managing your risk assessment, food safety standard operating procedures, and documentation to meet FSMA requirements.

Attendees will get the information they need in order to review their farms’ risks and to develop their own food safety policies, procedures, and documentation processes. After attending the entire course, participants will be eligible to receive a certificate from the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) that verifies they have completed the training course. Download a full description of the PSA Grower Training Course. This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2016-70020-25787. Led by Coleen Thornton


Holistic Planned Grazing: Our Most Powerful Tool to Heal Our Habitat: Discover how and why grazing, done nature’s way, recreates the environment that we have destroyed over time with agriculture done poorly. There are many things to consider in creating a grazing plan, and holistic rancher Walt Davis will make sure you can identify all those essentials, teaching you how to read the land and monitor land and animals to assess your progress. You will also learn how to prepare for inevitable droughts, how to endure them, and how to recover from them.


How to Form a Successful Cooperative: Cooperation with other farmers, with customers, and with a range of community members has long been a key way small-scale producers achieve success as vital parts of the food system. Join Annelies Lottmann and other co-op development experts and practitioners from around the state to explore the many ways cooperation can build strong, resilient farmer and rancher networks as well as a committed, reliable customer base.  This full-day 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.
  • Facilitated mentoring sessions with experienced farm and ranch cooperative leaders.


Last Update: July 25, 2017