Upcoming event offers lots of useful info

January 09, 2007|by JEFF SEMLER

Natural, organic, CASA, sustainable agriculture - what does all this mean?

Well, you are in luck - this Friday and Saturday, Jan. 12 and 13, the Future Harvest Conference comes to Hagerstown.

The conference starts at 8:30 a.m. Friday with pre-conference sessions and runs through 4 p.m. Saturday.

This is the eighth annual conference and it has been held at the Four Points Sheraton from the beginning.

Folks seeking innovative ideas will gain practical strategies for improving production, creative ways to market products and ideas for new enterprises in hands-on sessions at this don't-miss conference!

Alex Hitt, farmer from Graham, N.C., is this year's keynote speaker. Since 1981, Alex and his wife, Betsy, have worked to turn their five-acre farm into an environmental gem and profit center.


Over the years, the Hitts have reduced acreage and labor by improving their soil with cover crops and concentrating on high-value crops that grow well in the area.

What they haven't reduced is profits, thanks to direct marketing through farmers markets and stores.

Phyllis Kilby, co-owner of Kilby's, Inc., will be one of the panelists for the Friday evening discussion. This third-generation family dairy farm near Rising Sun, Md., has been milking cows for 45 years.

Kilby will discuss the 440-cow milking herd operation and the family's new venture, "Kilby Cream."

Another panelist will be Mary Ellen Taylor, co-owner of Endless Summer Harvest. This hydroponic operation in Purcellville, Va., grows fine lettuce, greens and herbs in a state-of-the art, year-round greenhouse.

Taylor will discuss how her hydroponic solutions grow strong, flavorful crops.

Chuck Mohler, crops/soil sciences researcher from Cornell University, will be sharing both the ecology of weeds and how to manage them in organic systems. Chuck will also be presenting a session on "Planning Crop Rotations for Organic Farms."

Bernie Prince, co-coordinator of FreshFarm Markets in Washington, D.C., will be discussing farmers' market producers.

She asks, "Who does best - the seasoned market producer or the new kid at the market?" And what do they learn from one other?

Prince will share her market observations and ideas.

There is something for everyone, with more than 20 workshops during the two days.

So plan to spend time networking, meeting friends and enjoying the weekend.

For registration information or other details, contact the Extension office at 301-791-1304 or get information online at:

Jeff Semler is an Extension educator, specializing in agriculture and natural resources, for the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension. He is based in Washington County. He can be reached weekdays by telephone at 301-791-1404, ext. 25, or by e-mail at

Schedule of events

What you will have to choose from if you attend:

Friday, Jan. 12

8:30 to noon - Pre-conference seminars

Going Grazing - Dale Johnson, Stan Fultz, University of Maryland Extension and farmers Glenn Shirley and Ron Holter

Vegetable Production 101 - Jerry Brust, Caragh Fitzgerald and other University of Maryland Extension personnel

Getting Started with Small Fruits and Berries - Bryan Butler, University of Maryland Extension

1:30 to 3 p.m. - SESSION 1

Planning Crop Rotations for Organic Farms - Chuck Mohler, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

Your Perfect Farmers' Market Producer - Bernadine Prince, Fresh Farm Markets

3:15 to 4 p.m. - Future Harvest - CASA annual membership meeting and election of new board members

4:30 to 6 p.m. - Wine and cheese reception

6:15 to 7:30 p.m. - Dinner

7:30 to 9 p.m. - EVENING SESSION

Farming for Profit Panel on Successful Farming Enterprises in the Mid-Atlantic Region - Phyllis Kilby, Kilby Dairy, Rising Sun, Md.; Kathy Evans, Evans Knob Farm, Bruceton Mills, WVa., and Mary Ellen Taylor, Endless Summer Harvest, Purcellville, Va.

9 to 10 p.m. - Ice Cream Social


8:30 to 10 a.m. - SESSION 2


Breaking the Feast and Famine Cycle - John Spangler, Spangler Farm, Bayard, W.Va.


Grazing - A Whole Farm System - Harry Strite, Creek Bend Dairy Farm, Williamsport, and Myron Martin, Peace Hollow Farm, Knoxville.


Ecology of Weed Management in Organic Systems - Chuck Mohler, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.


A Year of Cut Flowers: Getting Started and Succession Planting for Maximum Production and Profitability - Joe Caputi, Charlotte's Garden, Louisa, Va.

10:30 to 11:45 a.m. - SESSION 3


Bio-diesel 101 - Matt Steiman, Wilson College, Chambersburg, Pa.


Starting a Grazing Dairy Operation the First Year: 10 Most Important Points - Ben Walsh, Green Glades Dairy, Terra Alta, W.Va.


Enhancing Community Support and Knowledge of Local Agricultural Issues of Maryland's Lower Eastern Shore - Laura Hunsberger, Shannon Dill, University of Maryland Extension


How I Make Our CSA Work in Rural West Virginia - John Spangler, Spangler Farm, Bayard, W.Va.

2 to 2:45 p.m. - SESSION 4


Addressing Challenges with Foreign or Migrant Labor - Ed Hermann, Herrcastle Farms, Holtwood, Pa.


Backpack Sprayer Technology - John Grande, N.J. Ag. Experiment Station, Rutgers University


Integrating Turkey Production into Vegetable Systems - Alex Hitt, Peregrine Farm, Graham, N.C.


Estate Planning/Planning for the Future - Tom McConnell, WVU Extension

2:45 p.m. - Break

3 to 4 p.m. - SESSION 5


Small Equipment for Farmers - Chuck Schuster, University of Maryland Extension


A Farmers' Market Approach to Selling Beef - Evie and Chris Lotze, Roxley Farms, Kearneysville, W.Va.


Early Season Tomatoes in High Tunnels - Mark Davis, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center


Predator Control in Livestock - Jeff Semler, University of Maryland Extension in Washington County

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