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Grow your organic knowledge at the 2010 Minnesota Organic Conference

The 2010 Minnesota Organic Conference and Trade Show offers a great line-up of presentations for anyone interested in organic farming or the organic industry. Registration is now open for the annual conference, which will be held January 15-16 at the St. Cloud Civic Center.

The three keynote speakers include David Vetter, a veteran organic farmer from Marquette, Nebraska and founder of Grain Place Foods, Inc., one of the first organic grain processing plants to serve small-scale organic farmers; syndicated agriculture columnist Alan Guebert, whose writing appears in farm and rural magazines nationwide; and registered dietician Angie Tagtow, whose work focuses on the public health benefits of sustainable food systems.

"We are tremendously excited about the wide range of topics and presenters that will be featured at the event," said conference organizer Mary Hanks, at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). "It will be an outstanding educational opportunity for organic farmers and others interested in learning more about organic food and agriculture."

The two-day event also offers scores of breakout sessions led by experienced farmers, researchers, educators and businesspeople. Organic farmers Chris Blanchard and Laura Frerichs will talk about starting a CSA "subscription" farm. University of Minnesota Professor Bud Markhart will ask "Can Organic Feed the World?" and a panel of seasoned organic inspectors will share tips to make organic farm inspections less intimidating.

Soil health, post harvest fruit and vegetable handling, the outlook for organic dairy and a mini-workshop for organic beginners, led by organic advisors Joyce Ford and Jim Riddle of Winona, are just a few of the other scheduled sessions, panel discussions and roundtables on tap.

Early bird registration costs $100 for the two-day conference and $70 for those who want to attend one day. There are further discounts for additional people from the same farming operation. The cost includes breakfast, lunch and snacks prepared with organic ingredients specially sourced for the conference. Reduced hotel rates are available until December 13.

The full conference program and registration forms are available at the MDA website or by calling (651) 201-6012.