Conference Sessions


General Session: Learning Marketing from a Chicken

What’s the best way to describe your business that will get connections for social media channels and press coverage? This innovative marketing presentation will highlight strategies to start using tomorrow! Writer, marketer, and reluctant farmer, Lucie Amundsen and her husband co-own Locally Laid Egg Company, a farm that provides pasture-raised eggs in Northern Minnesota. A former contributor to the Reader’s Digest Association, Lucie has authored a narrative nonfiction, Locally Laid: How We Built a Plucky Industry Changing Egg Farm-From Scratch published by Penguin Books USA.

Speaker: Lucie B. Amundsen, Locally Laid Egg Company, Wrenshall, MN


Business Planning:  Speaking Clearly Across Generations

Ensuring good communication across generations matters whether you’re buying, selling, leasing, expanding, or trying to learn something new. Being able to articulate your vision and questions for the farm can be challenging. What type of skills do you need to describe your vision or questions in a clear, compelling fashion no matter who you are interacting with?

Moderator: Fran Pearson, MA Dept. of Agricultural Resources, Boston, MA

Speakers: Leslie Forstadt, Extension Associate Professor, Human Development, University of Maine Cooperative Extension; Abby Sadaukas, Maine Field Agent, Land for Good, Co-Owner/Operator, Apple Creek Farm; Tori Jackson, Associate Professor of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Androscoggin and Sagadahoc Counties


Farm Marketing: The Care and Feeding of Your Farm Website

Having an updated website is still the most effective way to attract people to your farm. When was the last time you touched your site? If your answer is “Uh…,” this session will provide simple steps to help you update content, address Google’s new technical requirements, and attract visitors.

Moderator: Yvette Meunier, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Augusta ME

Speakers: Myrna Greenfield, Top Egg, Good Egg Marketing; Ellen Parlee, Co-Owner, Parlee Farms


Engaging Consumers: Creating a Dynamic and Involved On Farm Workshop

This session will explore how to organize, plan, and present an engaging 1-3 hour workshop in Ag education.  Learn how to plan and promote a workshop. Experience effective ways to engage and interact with your audience.

Moderator: CT Dept. of Agriculture, Hartford, CT

Speaker: Willie Crosby, Owner, Fungi Ally


Business Planning: Ensure Your Farm’s Legacy: Succession and Transfer Planning Starts Now

Starting…and completing your succession plan can be challenging. This hands-on session will support your next steps, regardless of where you are in the planning process.  Learn useful tools, methods and actions for farms with or without identified successors. Junior generation/successors welcome. Hear from fellow farmers and succession planning advisors.

Moderator: Shemariah Blum-Evitts, Program Director, Land For Good, Keene, NH

Speakers: Kathy Ruhf, Senior Advisor, Land for Good; Amy Sadauckas, Field Agent and Next Generation Farmer


Farm Marketing: Displays and Merchandising

Stay Tuned. Full Description Coming Soon!

Speakers: Lynn Ellen Schimoler, Senior Agricultural Business Development/Working Lands Program Manager, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, Montpelier, VT; Additional Speaker TBA


Now Trending: All About FSMA for Farmers and Food Processors

This session will help to clarify The Food Safety Modernization Act for Farmers and Food Processors. Participants will learn important facts such as: Does the law even apply to my farm or processing business, and what do I have to do to comply? Easy-to-use online tools will be demonstrated.

Moderator: Gail McWilliam Jellie, Director, Division of Agricultural Development, NH Dept. of Agriculture, Markets and Food, Concord, NH

Speakers: Mary Choate, Food Safety Field Specialist, UNH Cooperative Extension, Food and Agriculture, Grafton County; Heather Bryant, Fruit and Vegetable Production Field Specialist, UNH Cooperative Extension, Food and Agriculture, Grafton County


Engaging Consumers: Reaching an Active Audience: Recreational Agritourism Activities on Your Farm
With fitness trends emphasizing more outdoor and recreational activities, today’s farms have the opportunity to reach a wider audience focused on living active lifestyles by offering events on their land that connect the public to the outdoors and nature while promoting their own agribusiness. Hear from speakers who have offered recreational programming, and their insights on what is involved in bringing this type of experience to your farm.

Moderator: Phu Mai, MA Dept. of Agricultural Resources, Boston, MA

Speakers: Mark Walter, Barn to Run Trail Race Series, Westwood, MA; Additional Speakers TBA


Business Planning: Making Data Driven Farm Business Decisions

Producers keep financial records for their accountant and banker, but many fail to use the information for making better business decisions. Part of the problem lies with understanding their financial reports and having confidence that the information contained in these reports is accurate and complete. Another problem is understanding how to use that financial data to capitalize on their strengths and sure up any weaknesses in business operations.

Moderator: Melissa Adams, Ag Business Training Coordinator, MA Dept. of Agricultural Resources, Amherst, MA

Speakers: Michael Sciabarrasi, Emeritus Extension Specialist, Agricultural Business Management, UNH Cooperative Extension; Ryan Voiland, Red Fire Farm


Farm Marketing: How Your Marketing Strategy Can Help Prepare You for Unexpected Weather Related Losses

The session will examine how farmers manage marketing risks on their farming operations. Hear from four farmers who produce a variety of crops which are marketed through diverse outlets. Gain insight into developing a successful marketing strategy for your farm, as well as the importance of defining your market(s) and how reacting to unforeseen circumstances such as adverse weather, can make or break your operation. Gain one or more ideas to help manage marketing risks to manage adverse circumstances.

Moderator: Mary Jordan, MA Dept. of Agricultural Resources, Boston, MA

Speakers: Tom Smiarowski and Paul Russell, Extension Educators, UMass Extension Crop Insurance/Risk Management Education Program; Additional Speakers TBA


Now Trending: Improving Your Bottom Line Through Value-Added Farm Products: Approved Recipes and Knowing Which Food Safety Requirements to Follow Gives You a Head Start!

Geared to small scale producers using farm produce for value-added products, this session will guide participants through newly available approved recipes from UMASS Amherst for growers, along with an emphasis on factors relating to food safety and resources.

Moderator: Bonita Oehlke, MA Dept. of Agricultural Resources, Boston, MA

Speakers:  Amanda Kinchla, Assistant Extension Professor/Food Safety Specialist Food Science Department, UMass Amherst


Adapting Your Business: Leading in Agriculture: Women Breaking Ag’s “Glass Ceiling”

More women own or operate farms than in the past. And these women do more than hand the guys on the farm the tools. The confidence these women possess to manage their own farm has been cultivated from leadership experiences. During this session, participants will learn from women leaders in agriculture about their experiences in agriculture and how leadership opportunities gave them the tools to manage their day-to-day operations.

Moderator: Katelyn Parsons, MA Farm Bureau, Marlboro, MA

Speakers: Lisa Colby, Colby Farm; Heidi Cooper, Cooper’s Hilltop Farm; Missy Leab, Ioka Valley Farm; Mary Jesch, Cornucopia Gardeners


Business Planning: Ten+ Ways to Find $10,000 in Your Business

$10,000 might not seem like a lot when it’s for a capital project, but what if you could find the money in your business instead of having to borrow or contribute it? Believe it or not, it’s already there and you just need to find it! Join Erin Pirro and Mike Berecz to take a closer look at some basic daily operations – and how just a slight shift in philosophy and action could have you adding to your bottom line.

Moderator: CT Dept. of Agriculture, Hartford, CT

Speakers: Erin Pirro, Farm Business Consultant, Farm Credit East, ACA; Mike Berecz, Office Guy, Woodbury Sugar Shed, Inc.


Farm Marketing: Driving Farm Marketing with Social Media

Social media marketing is integral to farm businesses, and can drive your marketing initiatives and relationships with the media forward. This hands-on session will cover three areas: (1) crafting contagious content, (2) putting social back in social media, and (3) developing relationships with the media via social channels.

Moderator: Yvette Meunier, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Augusta ME

Speaker: Stacey Stearns, Program Specialist, UConn Extension


Now Trending: What to Expect in 2019: Produce Inspections in New England

Commencing in the Spring of 2019, State Produce Inspection Programs may conduct an inspection of your fruit and/or vegetable farm for a variety of reasons.  These include routine inspections, follow-up inspections and market access support. Inspections are only one part of the Produce Inspection Program related to Produce Safety.  The Program will also provide cost-free technical assistance, outreach and education and will continue to work with State grant programs to ensure that tools are widely available and accessible for farmers who are updating and or improving their farm food safety infrastructure, policies and practices.

Moderator: Ron Newman, RI Division of Agriculture, Providence, RI

Speakers: Michael Botelho, Mass Dept. of Agricultural Resources, Amanda Fraser, RI Dept. of Environmental Management; Mark Zotti, CT Dept. of Agriculture


Engaging Consumers: Innovative Approaches to Community Supported Agriculture: CSAs as a Wellness or Workplace Benefit

This session will explore how farms can capitalize on a recent trend of incorporating CSAs into workplace wellness and insurance benefits. In this workshop you will learn about the challenges and opportunities from farms who deliver shares to workplaces. You will also hear from companies who have sponsored CSAs and find out how to cultivate a working relationship with a partnering business.

Moderator: Rebecca Davidson, MA Dept. of Agricultural Resources, Boston, MA

Speakers: Jessica O’Neill, Just Roots; Laura Tangerini, Tangerini’s Spring Street Farm; Additional Speaker TBA


Adapting Your Business:  Beginning Farmers: How to Break Into the Market and Find Your Niche!

How to recognize and promote what makes your farm stand out. Learn from other farmers about ways to connect with your market. What works and what doesn’t?  Are there new models to explore?

Moderator: Melissa Adams, Ag Business Training Coordinator, MA Dept. of Agricultural Resources, Amherst, MA

Speakers: David Dumaresq, Owner, Farmer Dave’s, Dracut, MA; Jennifer Hashley Director, New Entry Sustainable Farming Project/ Instructor, Exploring the Small Farm Dream, and co-owner Jen and Pete’s Backyard Birds; Deanna Levanti, Ivory Silo Farm and Beginning Farmer Coordinator, MA Dept. of Agricultural Resources, Boston, MA


Business Planning: Cooperatives for Farm Succession and Start-Up

Cooperatives can help farmers pass their farm onto the next generation and help farmers secure markets, equipment and capital.  In this workshop you’ll learn how to use cooperatives as a farm succession strategy or start-up, and how this can help existing and new and beginning farmers.

Speakers: Jonah Fertig-Burd, Director of Cooperative Food Systems, Cooperative Development Institute, Northampton, MA; Seynab Ali, Farmer-Owner, President, New Roots Cooperative Farm, Lewiston, ME


Farm Marketing: Pricing Strategies

What’s the right price for your products?  Too many times, farmers just look at what others charge and copy it. But if you don’t know your cost of production, then you may not charge enough.  In this workshop we’ll discuss how to decide the right price – from understanding your costs, to knowing what makes your product special, to understanding the competition.

Moderator: Matt Green, Rhode Island Division of Agriculture, Providence, RI

Speakers: Julia Shanks, The Farmer’s Office/Julia Shanks Food Consulting; Tyler Sage, Sage Farm, Montague, MA


Now Trending: Advocating for Agriculture in Your Community with Agricultural Commissions

Stay Tuned. Full Description Coming Soon!

Speakers: Frank DiLuna, Laura Sapienza-Grabski, President, Mass Association of Agricultural Commissions; Brad Mitchell, Deputy Executive Director, MA Farm Bureau


Engaging Consumers: Ag Tourism #2

Stay Tuned. Full Description Coming Soon!

Speakers: Mark Walter, Barn to Run Trail Race Series, Westwood, MA; Additional Speakers TBA


Adapting Your Business: Adapting to the Changing Local Foods Market

As the local foods market matures and competition increases, it’s becoming harder for experienced farmers to maintain market share and new farmers to break in. Learn tools and techniques to help your farm adapt to market trends, differentiate yourself, and stay relevant.

Speakers: Myrna Greenfield, Top Egg, Good Egg Marketing; Caroline Pam, Kitchen Garden Farm; Rose Wilson, Owner, Rose Wilson Consulting, LLC


Business Planning: Checkpoints for Onboarding, Training and Developing Employees

Tips on how to positively supervise employees, cultivate stellar communication, and succession planning basics will be covered. Designed to foster a generative discussion with audience, businesses will take back inspiring tools to build a culture committed to productivity, respect and promoting from within.

Speaker: Lynn Ellen Schimoler, Senior Agricultural Business Development/Working Lands Program Manager, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, Montpelier, VT; Additional Speaker TBA


Farm Marketing: Building Supply and Demand: Lessons Learned From Harvest New England

For over 10 years, Health Care Without Harm’s Healthy Food in Health Care program has worked deeply with hospital and health care food purchasers. Recently, the New England team implemented a supply- and demand-side support program to focus purchasing of local products on a regional scale and support producers in meeting increased demand. This workshop will give producers an opportunity to discover what we learned and ask questions about why, how, and where hospitals are purchasing local, as well as “best practices” when working with health care.

Speakers: Lauren Kaskey, Facility and Procurement Coordinator, Health Care Without Harm; Deep Roots Organic Cooperative


Now Trending: Keeping it Cool: From Field to Sale

A discussion of maximizing product marketability by utilizing storage options, featuring a farmer panel sharing practices used to optimize product quality, shelf life and food safety. Farm storage equipment loan options will also be presented.

Moderator: Gail McWilliam Jellie, Director, Division of Agricultural Development, NH Dept. of Agriculture, Markets and Food, Concord, NH

Speakers: Keith Farrell, District Director, USDA Farm Service Agency


Adapting Your Business: Women Who Farm: Changing Roles and Life Balance for a Successful Ag Business

The number of agricultural businesses owned and operated by women is increasing. There are unique challenges for women serving as the primary operator. This interactive workshop will include a historical perspective of women’s role in agriculture, current changes, and relevant research. A discussion will highlight challenges and rewards based on the unique role of women. This workshop is intended to forge new tools to move agricultural enterprises and the owners, both women and men, towards success and life balance.

Speaker: Ann Starbard, East Berlin, PA (Former Owner, Crystal Brook Farm Goat Cheese, Sterling, MA)


Download the complete list of sessions here.