National Speaker Highlight of Statewide SARE Conference
The Fifth Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference and Organic Growers School is scheduled for March 17-18, 2009, at the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge in Fairbanks, Alaska. Presented by the UAF Cooperative Extension Service, the highlight of this year’s conference will be national guest speaker George DeVault, newly appointed president and executive director of the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa.
The Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of heirloom varieties of vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs, and agricultural biodiversity in general. DeVault’s position represents the pinnacle of a career that has included farming, mentoring farmers and writing about farming. He is also a volunteer fire chief, W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food and Society policy fellow and soon-to-be grandfather.
Since 1984, George and his wife Melanie have owned and operated a diversified organic farm growing vegetables, blueberries, flowers and livestock in Emmaus, Pa. At its peak, their farm provided food to 100 families through its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) service. In 2004, the Lehigh County, Pa., Conservation District honored the DeVaults as Conservation Farmers of the Year.
In addition to his farming career, DeVault has been active in his community by serving as a board member of the Lehigh County Agricultural Land Preservation Board, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, and the North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association. He is past president of the Emmaus Farmer’s Market, Inc., and has served as a volunteer firefighter since 1982, now serving as fire chief of his township fire station.
Some of DeVault’s numerous journalistic achievements include almost 25 years as a farm magazine and book editor and publisher at Rodale, Inc., 10 years heading The New Farm magazine, and in 1990 he became the United States editor of Novii Fermer (“New Farmer” in Russian). He has written for publications such as Successful Farming, Farm Journal, Top Producer, Mother Earth News, Organic Gardening, GRIT and Growing For Market. He has also edited and/or published many gardening and farming books including How to Make $100,000 Farming 25 Acres, Backyard Market Gardening, Truckpatch and Return to Pleasant Valley.
At the Sustainable Agriculture Conference and Organic Growers School, DeVault will speak on season extension, mainly through the use of high tunnels, floating row covers and crop rotation. He will also address the importance of saving seeds and how to go about it. The Devaults have built three high tunnels, one hoophouse and a heated seed-starting house on their farm in Pennsylvania. They have a lot of photos of those structures under construction as well as of crops at different times of the year. Other photos feature growers like Eliot Coleman building and using their various greenhouses.
In addition to the keynote national speaker, the SARE conference will feature presenters from around Alaska sharing information on topics such as University of Alaska research on fruit and berry production and fish waste composting; farm soil fertility; weed suppression; year-round CSA’s in Alaska; egg and poultry production for local market; and two panel discussions on composting and value-added agricultural products.
Don’t miss the special pre-conference activities taking place March 16! Participants will tour Chena Hot Springs Resort to see their many geothermal energy projects and year-round greenhouses, followed by a grant-writing workshop and tour of the UAF Cold Climate Housing and Research Center.
All interested individuals are encouraged to attend this exciting and informative conference. For more information, contact Michele Hebert at email@example.com or 474-2423. To register, contact Ronda Halvarson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 474-2450.