This morning Alex Greene, Bring It Food Hub’s general manager, and Rozie Schleinig, our assistant manager, headed off to the Eugene Woods Civic Center in West Arkansas for the fifth annual Mid-South Farm to Table Conference.
This year’s conference was focused on the farmer, and the sessions were dedicated to addressing the specific needs and challenges that Mid-South farmers currently face. The conference was led by three experts in agriculture: Ellen Polishuk, an “ecoganic” vegetable grower, biological farm consultant and teacher with Potomac Vegetable Farms; Mark Cain, founder of Dripping Springs Garden; and Richard Underhill, master beekeeper of Peace Bee Farm.
Throughout the day, the three speakers held sessions for farmers, consumers, local entrepreneurs and food enthusiasts alike, speaking on issues that directly applied to farmers growing in the Mid-South. Topics ranged from high tunnel construction, cropping for season extension, specialty crops, soil fertility, managing work crews, effective farm record keeping, flower production, bees for business and farm micro-loans. Discussions paused for a lunch break catered by the Parsonage Bakery and Deli, a restaurant in Marion, Arkansas, and resumed in the afternoon.
What we find so wonderful about the Mid-South Farm to Table Conference is the people it brings together and the information it provides for local farmers. Conferences such as this speak directly to our two-fold mission of increasing access to healthy, affordable local foods and strengthening farmer livelihoods. We can’t increase access to local fruits and vegetables without the farmers to grow them. However, producing food in modern day America is becoming increasingly difficult. Farm to table conferences attempt to lessen these challenges through information sharing and by creating a forum for farmers to consult with experts, interact with their consumers, and facilitate relationships with local food stakeholders. This years conference was spearheaded and organized by Mary and Wes Riddle with Roots Memphis; Brandon Pugh with Delta Sol Farm; Caitlin Dupuigrenet with the Cooper Young Farmers Market and Rochelle Brahalla with Green Leaf Learning Farm.
Today was especially exciting for Bring It because we got to share our mission with even more local farmers, and hopefully create long lasting partnerships that help us bring fresh, local produce to communities across the city.
For more information on this year’s conference, visit the Mid-South Farm to Table Conference website and Facebook page, and for more information on the farmers that led today’s conference, see the links below. Special thanks to everyone who organized, supported and participated in today’s event!
Eat local. Eat well.
Ellen Polishuk, Potomac Vegetable Farms
Mark Cain, Dripping Springs Garden
Richard Underhill, Peace Bee Farm