AMES, Iowa – The 18th annual Iowa Organic Conference, a joint effort between Iowa State University and the University of Iowa Office of Sustainability, will be held on Nov. 18-19 in Iowa City. Producers and experts from across the country will share tips for transitioning into organic production and methods to enhance organic operations.
“The market for organic products in the United States reached $50 billion in 2017, and even with five million certified organic acres in the U.S., the demand for organic grains and produce continues to exceed supply,” said Kathleen Delate, professor and extension organic specialist in horticulture and agronomy at Iowa State. “Growers everywhere are encouraged to consider the potential for organic production to reap premium prices and environmental benefits.”
The conference’s keynote speaker is David Montgomery, professor of earth and space sciences at the University of Washington, author of Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations. Montgomery is a world-renowned geologist who studies the influence of geomorphological processes on ecological systems and human societies. He brings a message of hope for renewing depleted agricultural systems through carbon-enhancing materials like cover crops and compost. His keynote talk is titled Growing a Revolution: Bringing our Soil Back to Life.
The Iowa Organic Conference begins at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18, with a reception in the UI Memorial Union featuring local and organic food and drinks. The conference lunch on Monday afternoon highlights local and organic produce, meats and dairy products assembled into a gourmet meal by Barry Greenberg, executive chef, and his UI Dining team.
Monday’s break-out sessions start at 8 a.m. and include information on transitioning into organic farming, weed management, organic livestock processing, organic no-till and alternative crops such as small grains and edible beans. Liz Carlisle, lecturer at Stanford University and author of “Lentil Underground” will speak with a fellow Montanan, farmer Dave Oien, about the many benefits of growing edible beans. The conference also includes information on water quality, economics of organic production, and local food system initiatives such as Feed Iowa First and Global Greens.
“The Iowa Organic Conference is the largest university-sponsored organic conference in the country,” said Delate. “Last year’s conference brought over 40 exhibitors, ranging from organic seed sales, to local food system non-profits, to government offices working with transitioning and certified organic farmers. Despite the challenges of wet weather at planting and drought in July in many parts of the state, organic farmers are anticipating successful organic yields with organic soybean prices currently averaging $18.50 per bushel and organic corn at $9.75 per bushel.”
Online conference registration is available. Registration is $100 until Nov. 11 and $120 after that date.
Hotel rooms are available at the Iowa House Hotel for Sunday, Nov. 18. Guests may access room reservations by going to https://iowahousehotel.com and entering group #1280, or calling the hotel at 319-335-3513 and mentioning the Iowa Organic Conference.
For additional conference information and directions to the conference, visit the 2018 Iowa Organic Conference webpage or contact Kathleen Delate at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-294-5116.