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PlacerGROWN: Think locally at upcoming Food & Farm Conference

By: Karen Killebrew
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PlacerGROWN’s 16th annual Food & Farm Conference returns to Lincoln High School on Saturday, Feb. 5. This conference is an amazing regional resource for the local community, with over 30 workshops on topics such as local food and sustainability, getting started in farming, crops and livestock. The 2011 conference also features an expanded emphasis on marketing, ranging from social media to cooperative marketing programs, and two sessions on agritourism for those who would like to host farm events, including basic considerations and an event planning guide. This year’s keynote speaker is Holly George, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Plumas and Sierra counties. Holly spearheaded a collaborative effort with UC Davis Art of Regional Change, UC Cooperative Extension to develop the Passion for the Land project featuring farmers and ranchers in Sierra Valley. Passion for the Land consists of 12 short personal stories that explore the interconnections between our environment, agriculture, the people, and local communities. Holly and Jesikah Maria Ross will also present two digital storytelling workshops designed to help participants identify and tell important community stories, as well as how to implement a local digital storytelling project. This year there is a full conference track for community members interested in local food. Morning sessions include a panel on School and community gardens and a look at PlacerSustain, a new community-driven sustainability effort. In the afternoon, PlacerGROWN will introduce the Master AGvocate program, a community agricultural leadership program, which will offer an in-depth look at all aspects of Placer County agriculture through farm visits, lectures and events. Community Alliance with Family Farmers, or CAFF, will introduce their Sacramento Valley Buy Fresh Buy Local Guide, which helps connect community members with family farms so that farms continue to thrive and future generations will have access to nourishing, flavorful, abundant local food. A popular conference feature is the chef demonstration. This will form the centerpoint of a networking reception at 3:30 p.m. at the conclusion of the workshop sessions, and is open to all conference attendees and community members. This year’s featured chef is Josh Korn of Paul Martin’s American Bistro in Roseville, who will demonstrate a seasonal specialty and offer tastes. PlacerGROWN invites local growers, eaters and others interested in supporting local agriculture to their 16th annual Food and Farm Conference, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 5 at Lincoln High School, located at 790 J St. in Lincoln. Early registration for the full conference program, available through Jan. 21, is $50 for PlacerGROWN members, and $55 for non-members. Lunch and the chef demonstration are included if registration is received by Jan. 28. The conference is presented by PlacerGROWN, UC Cooperative Extension, and the Placer County Agricultural Marketing Program. Grant support is being provided by the USDA Risk Management Agency and High Sierra Resource, Conservation and Development Council. Complete conference information and program, including online registration form, is available at placergrown.org, or by contacting PlacerGROWN at placergrown @gmail.com or (530) 889-7398. Karen Killebrew is the president of the board of directors for PlacerGROWN, Placer County’s agricultural marketing organization. Contact Karen at karen@ naturemedia.net.