That was fun. Let’s do it again next year!
Thank you to the nearly 200 people that joined us in Champaign, IL for two full days of discussion, networking, and knowledge sharing at the 4th annual Organic Grain Conference & Trade Show, February 5-6, 2020. While the vast majority of you joined us from central Illinois, we had attendees come from nine different states. Whether you came from near or far, thanks for making the journey!
The conference at a glance:
- 30+ speakers
- 20+ exhibitors
- 2 full-day workshops
- 12 breakout sessions
- 1 keynote speaker
- 2 film screenings
- 5 roundtable discussions
While there was a wealth of information to absorb, this conference wasn’t just about giving folks lots of information, it was about sharing the information, tools, and connections to take action. And it sounds like many left ready to do just that. In response to our evaluation,
- More than half of respondents said that as a result of attending the conference, they will or very likely will adopt a new practice on their farm/land.
- 90% indicated that they will or very likely will do further research on a topic they learned about at the conference.
- 90% indicated that they made new connections that they will follow up with.
- 80% indicated that they will or very likely will reach out to one of the speakers for more information.
(Thanks to those who completed our evaluation!)
I also walked away from the conference ready to take action. I’m looking forward to taking the many ideas that came from the great conversations that I had and suggestions you provided to develop impactful farmer training programming for the future. Thanks for sharing your challenges and successes so that we can better support economically viable, environmentally responsible farm businesses. Overall, I took away a lot of great insight and met some amazing people. Some of my personal highlights include:
- Talking to David Vetter (and so many of you!) about change, resilience, listening to the land and responding to its needs
- Learning from the diversity of experience of all of our panelists, speakers, and exhibitors
- David Doctor’s wearable classified ad (!)
- Meeting so many smart, interesting, and enthusiastic people all working to improve farming and environmental outcomes in our region
This was my first time at the OGC and you all made it such a great experience, now let’s start planning for next year! There was a lot of great feedback that we will take into account as we look forward. Expect some changes to the format, schedule, and trade show next year. If you’ve got a thought you’d like to share, please feel welcome to drop me a note, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you all for coming, and please save the date for the 5th annual Organic Grain Conference & Trade Show, February 10-11, 2021!
Many thanks to all of our sponsors and exhibitors:
Albert Lea Seed | American Farmland Trust | American Organic | Bay Shore Sales | Clarkson Grain Company | Compeer Financial | Douglas Plant Health: AgriEnergy Resources | Ecocert ICO | Flanagan State Bank | Forest Agriculture Nursery | Illinois Farm Bureau | Illinois SARE | Illinois Stewardship Alliance | Landgeland Farms | Lincoln Financial Agribusiness Services | Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) | Nature’s International Certification Services (NICS) | OnMark Certification Services LLC | Organic Valley | Pond Hill Sales and Service | Prairie Hybrid Seeds | Purple Cow Organics | Tillable, Inc. | W.O.L.F. Co-op | Yorktown Organic
And of course, thanks to all of our speakers, panelists, and moderators for providing amazing content and igniting so many insightful conversations!
Nathan Aaberg, Liberty Prairie Foundation | Dr. Emily Bruner, American Farmland Trust | Aaron Butler, Butler Family Farms | Dave Campbell, MOSES | Brian Carlson, Carlson Farm | Colin Cureton, UMN Forever Green | Tory Dahlhoff, Greater Peoria Economic Development Council | Ivan Dozier, USDA-NRCS | Will Glazik, J&W Organic Farm | Joel Gruver, School of Agriculture, Western Illinois University | Anders Gurda, Pipeline Foods | Alyssa Hartman, Artisan Grain Collaborative | Dennis Henks, CFP, MBA, Lincoln Financial Agribusiness Services | Bruce Henrikson, Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District | David Hettenbach, Nature’s International Certification Services, LLC | Brian Jacobsen, University of Illinois | Art Littlefield, MBA, Lincoln Financial Agribusiness Services | Gary McDonald, Consultant | Wyatt Muse, Farmer & Cash Grain Broker | Michael O’Donnell, Purdue Extension | Sam Schiller, Carbon Yield | Derek Schrock, Sandy Ridge Farm | Mark Seeley, OnMark Certification Services LLC | Adam Smith, Farmer | Derek Stewart, Stewart Family Farms | Sandy Syburg, Purple Cow Organics | Megan Thomas, Mercaris | David Vetter, Grain Place Foods, Inc. | Greg Wade, Publican Quality Bread | Erik Weigand, Earlybird Feed & Fertilizer | Ross Wilken, Janie’s Farm Organic | Gilbert Williams, Lonesome Stone Milling LLC