Monday, February 20, 2017

Sustainable Agriculture Conference begins Tuesday

Mike Ridenour of Meadow Maid Foods 
The Alaska Sustainable Agriculture Conference will take place Feb. 21-23 in Fairbanks with an eclectic mix of sessions that cover reindeer husbandry, farm management and processing of birch sap.

“If you want to grow food or raise animals, this is perfect conference,” said organizer Steven Seefeldt.

The conference usually draws more than 200 people, including farmers, ranchers, gardeners and others in the agricultural support industry. It is the state's largest agricultural conference.

The keynote speakers will be Mike Ridenour of Meadow Maid Foods in Wyoming, Steve Caccamo of Next Generation Maple Products in New York and National FFA president David Townsend. Ridenour will talk about challenges he faced starting and building his farm in Wyoming. Seefeldt said Ridenour and his wife, Cindy, who grow vegetables and raise grass-fed beef, face similar problems as Alaska growers, including cold weather and distance from markets. Caccamo's has experience fabricating commercial-quality, affordable sugaring equipment for small producers in the Northeast and now with OneTree Alaska. He will discuss steps to developing a viable birch sap and syrup industry in Alaska, and  Townsend’s topic is opportunities for youth in agriculture.
National FFA president David Townsend

The main meeting day will be Feb. 22, with keynote speakers, presentations on sustainable practices, farm management, meat and fiber production, and birch sap and syrup making. Full- and half-day workshops are scheduled on Feb. 21 and Feb. 23 on recent innovations in birch sap processing, woodlot management, improving soil with combusted biomass, soil management, farm risk management and financing, growing rhodiola, and gardening and farming in rural Alaska. A full-day reindeer husbandry course will feature university experts and reindeer producers talking about reindeer nutrition, handling techniques, parasite control and artificial insemination.

The Cooperative Extension Service will host the 13th-annual conference at the Westmark Fairbanks Hotel. Agenda and registration information are available at For more information, contact Seefeldt at or 907-474-1831 or Darcy Etcheverry at

No comments: