Thursday, March 7, 2013

SARE conference set for March 13-14

The Sustainable Agriculture Conference March 13–14 in Fairbanks will cover a variety of topics, from harvesting rainwater to agritourism.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service will host the ninth annual conference at the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge. Sustainable agriculture is an approach to farming that is good for the environment and the community, according to conference organizer Michele Hebert.

Preconference workshops on March 12 will kick off the event. Billy Kniffen of San Antonio, Texas, will talk about water cisterns and developing rain barrel and irrigation systems. New Mexico farmer Don Bustos will cover low-cost sustainable farming methods.

During the conference, Minnesota food analyst Ken Meter will talk about how Alaskans can find economically, socially and environmentally viable ways to grow food. Meter runs a nonprofit organization in Minneapolis, Crossroads Resource Center, that works with communities to support sustainability.

Several conference sessions will focus on ways agricultural businesses can incorporate tourism, from reindeer ranches to farm stays. Other topics will include a farmer-to-farmer training program, sustainable farming and gardening practices, heating greenhouses with passive solar, food safety, marketing and agency updates. Panels will discuss improving the fertility of farms and expanding agriculture in the Interior.

Preconference workshops are $50 each or $55 for both. Registration for the conference is $60 for one day or $85 for two. Student rates also are available. See agenda and registration information here.

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