Conference Overview

Friday, April 21: Farm Conference Field Day – Sold Out!

Solutions in the Soil: 
On-farm composting and a closer look at organic matter
12:00 pm – 4:00 pm

The on-farm field day is sold out! Check back next year, or stay tuned for our 2023 on-farm Ag-Skills classes and Farm Tours.

Learn how to create a successful composting system on your farm with regional experts Marney Blair and Lisa Bjorn. Explore the biological, ecological and societal inputs that influence the composting process, including Biodynamic composting practices. You will participate in building a compost pile with correct carbon/nitrogen ratio, moisture content, particle density, and mass, and then dive hands into three compost piles in various stages of composting, learning how to understand the composting process through your senses. You will learn hands-on troubleshooting techniques and exercises that you can immediately use to improve your current composting system, and composting protocols for how to start a comprehensive composting program on your own farm.

Additionally, during lunch Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) will lead a discussion asking farmers what their biggest policy related concerns are and how CAFF can better support farmers in this part of the state.

Keynotes and Workshop Schedule
*Workshop Session 1 and Session 3 format may change – more updates coming soon

  • Saturday 22 Apr 2023

Saturday 22 Apr 2023

8:15 am

Arrival, Registration, Coffee

Grab a coffee, a pastry, and register for the day’s offerings!

9:00 am

Conference Opening, Land Acknowledgement

Join us in for a few introductions and an acknowledgment of the land we are gathering on.

9:15 am

Opening Keynote

Dr. Amélie Gaudin – Creating Ecologically Resilient Farms

Modern agriculture has fractured apart the natural processes of ecosystems resulting in a farming systems that is fragile and disconnected from the nutrients and support of the root rhizosphere. Dr. Gaudin’s research investigates how building diversity back into the farm system through practices like integrating livestock and crops, growing cover crops, and thoughtful crop rotations increase resilience to climate change, decreases crop stress, and improves farm system health. Her presentation will focus on farming practices that empower producers to mitigate climate change, and grow resilient, productive agricultural systems.

10:05 am

Break – Visit the Expo, mingle with farmer friends, hit the restroom.

10:20 am

The first session of the day’s Workshops

Nitrogen: Demystifying Management Decisions on your Organic Farm

Patricia Lazicki, Ph.D, UCCE Vegetable Crops AdvisorClassroom 1

Nitrogen, absolutely essential for plant growth, is often one of the more expensive and tricky inputs that farmers rely on. In this workshop, participants will learn how to estimate nitrogen release from diverse organic sources and translate that knowledge to nitrogen fertilization plans. Additionallly, participants will learn about the role of microbes and the relevance of soil organic matter, how to use soil tests, and how to monitor nitrogen year round.

Sat 10:20 am – 11:20 am

Resilient Agricultural Systems

Amélie Gaudin & Vivian WautersMain Hall

Join Keynote Amélie Gaudin and post-doctoral researcher Vivian Wauters for a deep dive into resilient agricultural ecosystems and regenerative on-farm practices.

Sat 10:20 am – 11:20 am

Solutions for Small Meat Producers in CA: How to get meat from ranch to table

Laetitia Benador, CCOFClassroom 2

Join CCOF Senior Policy Research Specialist and facilitator of the CA Meat Processing Coalition for a conversation about existing and new legislation that dictates how small producers can legally sell meat direct-to-retail and customers.  Explore why bottlenecks exist and learn about innovative and future solutions that are in the works at the state level in the 2023 Farm Bill.

Sat 10:20 am – 11:20 am

11:20 am

Break – Visit the Expo, mingle with farmer friends, hit the restroom.

11:35 am

Successful Farmer & Rancher Spotlight

Featuring regional farmers Zach Cannady & Seth and Mica Nitschke of Mariposa Ranch, as well as audience Q&A, and more.

12:30 pm

Lunchtime! Dine with friends new and old, and don’t forget to get your Expo Passport all filled out for a chance to win a raffle prize.

12:45 pm

Livestock Access Pass Program

Dan Macon, UCCE Livestock and Natural Resources AdvisorClassroom 2

Working in partnership with CALFIRE Nevada-Yuba-Placer, sheriff’s offices, and offices of emergency services in Placer, Nevada, and Yuba Counties, the livestock community established a 3-county Livestock Access Pass program for commercial livestock producers to access their livestock during emergency closures due to wildfire or other disasters. Come learn about the program from Dan Macon, UCCE Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor for Placer, Nevada, Sutter, and Yuba counties.

Sat 12:45 pm – 1:15 pm

Programs to Assist Farmers & Ranchers

USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service & Nevada County Resource Conservation DistrictClassroom 1

The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Nevada County Resource Conservation District both have many programs and services available to assist area farmers and ranchers. Come talk to representatives from both agencies about who they are, and what they can offer to help with your resource concerns on your land.

Sat 12:45 pm – 1:15 pm

Selling into the Emergency Food System

Julie Thornbury, Food Bank of Nevada County & Venus Paxton, Interfaith Food MinistryMain Hall, or outside

Many food producers often overlook the emergency food system (i.e. food banks and pantries) as the robust and consistent market it is. With the advent of COVID, the state and federal governments have increased funding for food banks to purchase locally. Come hear from Julie Thornbury, Executive Director of the Food Bank of Nevada County, and Venus Paxton, Program Manager of Interfaith Food Ministry, about how to sell your product to these agencies.

Sat 12:45 pm – 1:15 pm

1:30 pm

The second session of the day’s Workshops

Helpful Tips from a Highly Productive High Altitude Farm

Zachary CannadyMain Hall

If grossing over six figures per acre on a 1.5 acre operation sounds like a fairy tale, come learn from Prema Farm co-owner/operator Zach Cannady, who has realized that dream for the past five growing seasons. Regeneratively growing 40+ varieties of vegetables, fruits, and flowers at 5200″ in a 90 day frost free growing season, these farmers have definitely earned the descriptors of tenacious and successful.

Sat 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

Working With USDA-NRCS to Help With Resource Concerns On Your Land

Pamela HertzlerClassroom 1

Join District Conservationist Pamela Hertzler, Agronomist Valerie Bullard, and Biologist Maddison Easley, for a lively workshop on cost-share support programs available for farmers and ranchers through the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).  The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides technical advising, system design, and cost-share reimbursements for high tunnels, hedgerows, irrigation systems, pasture-improvement, cross-fencing, and more!  Dive into the application process, annual deadlines, and get started on building a farm system that protects your most vital resources – soil and water.

Sat 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

2:30 pm

Break – Visit the Expo, mingle with farmer friends, hit the restroom.

2:45 pm

The third session of the day’s Workshops

Flores y Felicidad

Javier ZamoraMain Hall

Cut flowers increase the amount of color, cheer, and comfort in the world. They can also increase the amount of farm sales and profits. Come learn from expert floriculturist, Javier Zamora, to gain key insights into designing, implementing, and running a profitable cut flower operation, including ways to keep making money even after the flowers are no longer fresh.

Sat 2:45 pm – 3:45 pm

Start with Nothing, Then Don’t Quit: Building a Beef Market with Direct to Consumer, Subscriptions, and Wholesale

Seth & Mica Nitschke, Mariposa RanchClassroom 2

When Mica and Seth launched their Grass-fed beef operation in 2006 it was on a wing and a prayer with only their own hands and family to help make their dream fly.  Now, 16-years later, their family ranch is thriving by raising and selling 100% Pasture-raised, 100% Pasture-finished beef. Learn the nuances of how they developed their diversified markets, and the pros and cons of each.

Sat 2:45 pm – 3:45 pm

Water: The Lifeblood of Agriculture

NIDClassroom 1

You’ve seen the bumper stickers “No Farms, No Food”, but have you ever seen one that says “No Water, No Farms”? As the climate changes and droughts become more frequent and persistent, it is vital to understand how the water ultility in our area will ensure farmers and ranchers have the water they need to produce food now and into the distant future. Join Nevada Irrigation District (NID) staff for a robust presentation covering the Plan for Water (a public collaboration process to determine the best ways to meet our community’s demand for water over the coming decades), an up-to-date water supply overview and drought regulations, and vegetation management in over 475 miles of irrigation canals. Q&A session with District management, water operations, conservation efficiency, and vegetation management staff will follow the presentation.

Sat 2:45 pm – 3:45 pm

3:45 pm

Break – Visit the Expo, mingle with farmer friends, hit the restroom.

4:00 pm

Closing Keynote

Javier Zamora – The Essentials of a Successful Farm Business

Javier knows what it takes to grow a successful ecological farm business from the ground up, because he has done it himself! As an immigrant from Mexico, he worked for years in the food industry and then started his farming business less than 15 years ago on 1.5 acres. Today, JSM Organics operates on 200 acres of organic farmland in Monterrey County and employs 25 full-time workers, selling flowers, berries and annual vegetables year round. Javier has become a respected voice in the organic farming movement. He hosts college and university students on his farm and mentors others to build successful careers in diversified, organic farming. Javier belongs to several boards and non-profits including Eco Farm and sits on the USDA Advisory Committee for Small and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers.

4:50 pm

Conference Closing & Gratitude

Join us in gratitude as we close out the day’s learnings.

Know & Go:

Address: 250 Sierra College Dr, Grass Valley, CA 95945

Special Thanks to our 2023 Conference Sponsors!