Valley Food Partnership and Shavano Conservation District are excited to announce the combination of the Western Colorado Food and Farm Forum (WCFFF) and the Western Colorado Soil Health Conference. Their joint two-day conference, The Western Colorado Soil Health, Food, and Farm Forum, will be held on January 27th and 28th 2023.
Regarding the collaboration between the events, Carol Parker, a founder of the WCFFF had this to say, “The Food and Farm Forum began as an initiative of the Valley Food Partnership in 2011 and quickly became a collaborative effort of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and CSU Extension. Shavano Valley Conservation District joined later as did National Young Farmers Coalition, Coldharbour Institute, the Valley Organic Growers Association, and Engage. As a collaborative, our goal was to increase the sustainable production, consumption, and marketing of local food by offering an affordable, educational conference geared toward addressing the numerous issues faced by farmers and ranchers in western Colorado… We are excited to combine efforts with the Soil Health Conference (and to welcome Montrose County as a collaborator) to further meet the needs of producers striving to meet the challenges of agriculture in our region.”
A board member of the Shavano Conservation District, Steve Hale, commented as well on their partnership with the joined conference, "While having served as the administrative and fiduciary agent for the Western Colorado Soil Health annual conference, the Shavano Conservation District is excited to now join forces with Valley Food Partnership's Food and Farm Forum in developing a single event. Beyond the saving of staff and volunteers' time and effort, we feel there is a real synergy developing between the two groups as we share the common goals of building the health of farm and range lands and building the viability of local and regional farm operations."
Both conferences have been promoting sustainable agriculture and soil health practices in Colorado for over a decade. Dave Dearstyne, one of the Western Colorado Soil Health Conference’s long-time organizers, has said that the partnership between the conferences is a natural fit as “Soil Health is the foundation of agriculture. We have always done our best to provide education and opportunity to people who are growing vegetation on the land.” He went on to explain that “When we started, soil health was the future. Now, Soil Health is today.” This principle has inspired the joint forum as well. The theme of this year’s event is From the Soil Up.
The 2023 lineup will include presentations on innovative soil health practices, rotational grazing, forward-thinking marketing and financial management, and exciting learning opportunities in the world of food systems and agriculture. Registration for the hybrid event will open on November 11th, 2022. You can learn more about the amazing speakers, including keynote speaker Dr. David Johnson, on their website www.soilfoodfarm.org.