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Southwest's premier organic farming conference Feb. 17-18, Albuquerque

The two-day New Mexico Organic Farming Conference provides more than 30 production and marketing workshops, an organic food luncheon on Saturday and a large exhibitor hall for producers to learn about organic farming.

Members of New Mexico's $67 million organic farming industry will be among those gathering on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 17-18, in Albuquerque for the Southwest's premier conference on organic and sustainable agriculture.

The two-day New Mexico Organic Farming Conference, to be held at the Marriot Albuquerque Pyramid North, 5151 San Francisco Road NE, provides more than 30 production and marketing workshops, an organic food luncheon on Saturday and a large exhibitor hall for producers to learn about organic farming.

The event is organized by New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture and the non-profit organization Farm to Table. The registration fee is $100 for the entire conference or $65 for one day. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. each day.

To participate in the Saturday luncheon, participants must register before Jan. 27. For more information visit the website at or call Le Adams at 505-473-1004 ext. 10, or Joanie Quinn at 505-889-9921.

Bu Nygrens, co-owner of Veritable Vegetable in San Francisco, Calif., will be the keynote speaker on Saturday, beginning at 8:30 a.m. She will speak on "Transforming Our Food System: Honoring Hope and Hard Work."

Veritable Vegetable, established in 1974, is the nation's oldest distributor of certified organic fruits and vegetables. Woman-owned and operated Veritable Vegetable serves organic farms and independent retail businesses throughout California, Hawaii and the Southwest.

"There may not be anyone more familiar with organic fruits and vegetables and how they move from farm to fork than Bu Nygrens," said Pat Torres, NMSU Extension agriculture agent in Santa Fe County.

"Speaking from the perspective of more than three decades as a champion and facilitator of organic production, Bu will challenge and inspire us in our work to build a sustainable future."

Jon Boren, NMSU Cooperative Extension Service director, and Jeff Witte, New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture, will welcome conference participants on Friday.

Each day following the opening presentations, there will be workshop sessions on a variety of topics in six categories: soil, crop, livestock, farm support, market gardening, managing problems and petite production. Topics range from managing soil wind erosion to making your soil do what you want it to do, from ruminant preventative health care to mushroom production, and from composting with worms to cover crops and green manure.

Among the workshops there are two sessions that will provide timely information for participants to protect their crops and farms.

Tess Grasswitz, NMSU's integrated pest management specialist, will be giving the latest on a couple of nemeses of organic producers — the Bagrada Bug and the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Since the arrival of these newcomers, many farmers suffering their depredation don't even know they're there.

With another dry year predicted, it's time for people to fire proof their farms or ranches. Ursula Rosauer-Smedley, NMSU Extension natural resource specialist with the Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs Project, will guide participants through steps that can be taken to minimize the impact of fire on their farm or ranch.

Sessions of special interest also includes 'Farming with Draft Animals.' Kyle Skaggs and Teague Channing will discuss working with draft horses and mules on their farms.

"Using draft animals is coming back on farms around the country as a more sustainable and enjoyable method of getting the heavy work of farming done," said Joanie Quinn, NMDA organic commodity advisor.

"This should be a very interesting session."

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