Are you headed to the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group’s (SSAWG) annual conference in Little Rock, Arkansas later this week? Almost all of the NCAT Southeast staff will be there! Margo Hale, Linda Coffey, Guy Ames, and Luke Freeman will speak at concurrent general conference sessions on Friday. On Saturday, Margo and Linda will facilitate information exchange sessions, and Margo will also participate in a panel discussion. And make sure to stop by the exhibit hall to say hi to Nina Prater at the NCAT booth! Our colleagues from NCAT’s Gulf States office will be there, too.
Following is a preview of the topics NCAT Southeast staff will cover during their sessions.
Friday, Jan. 25, 9:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Luke Freeman, along with Lauren Manning from the University of Arkansas School of Law, will present the session Using Social Media to Grow Your Farm Business. If you’ve ever wondered how to use social media to market your products and reach new customers, this is the session for you! They’ll give an overview of Facebook and Instagram, demonstrate how to set up a business profile, and discuss strategies for creating content and engaging with customers. This session will be a great introduction for those who are wondering how to get started or are looking for ways to improve their social media skills. Participants will also get access to a downloadable workbook on how to make the most of social media marketing for your farm business.
Friday, Jan. 25, 2:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
On Friday afternoon, NCAT Southeast staff will present at three concurrent sessions. The sessions will be recorded and available for free to conference attendees, so don’t worry that you can’t be in three places at once!
Guy Ames will present the session Growing Fruit That Is Suited to the South. Learn about some of the lesser-known species and varieties that are suited to the climate and soils in the South: natives like pawpaws, muscadines and persimmons, and non-natives like jujubes, figs, cudrang, and Asian persimmons. Guy will also discuss a few of the lesser-known varieties of apples and pears that can be grown naturally with some care.
Linda Coffey will present Planning for Success: Whole Farm Planning for Livestock Farms. This interactive session will help you and your farm partner articulate goals, take a thoughtful look at the resources available, examine the strengths and weaknesses of your farm business, and be ready to plan a successful future. Geared to farmers who have at least a year or two under their belts, participants will leave the session with goal-setting worksheets completed. Attendees will also receive print copies of ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture’s whole-farm planning tools that are designed for cattle, dairy, or small ruminant farms.
Margo Hale and Luke Freeman will help you decide whether selling to schools is right for your farm in their session Accessing School Markets: Selling, Marketing, and Relationship Building. Farm to school programs offer great potential to expand sales, broaden your client base, and participate in your community. Margo will guide you through questions to ask of your operation and your business when considering farm to school as a market opportunity. Participants will learn how farmers can access school markets and best practices for selling to schools, as well as hear real-world examples about school sales.
Saturday, Jan. 26, 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
During the Information Exchange: Crowdsourcing Knowledge section of the conference, Margo will facilitate the Military Veterans networking session. Linda will facilitate the session on Grazing Management.
Saturday, Jan. 26, 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Saturday afternoon, Margo will join a panel discussion on Veterans Succeeding in Ag. Farmer-veterans Jon Jackson of Comfort Farms in Georgia, Damon Helton of The Farm at Barefoot Bend in Arkansas (and an Armed to Farm alum), and Matthew Raiford of Gilliard Farms in Georgia will share their lessons learned, best tips, and unique resources for military veterans seeking to operate profitable farms. Margo will also share information digital tools including the Farmland, Farm Employment, and Training Program Locator Database as well as the Veterans in Agriculture Listserv.
If you haven’t already registered, you can still attend the conference! You can register on site at the event. You can download the registration form at https://www.ssawg.org/registration, complete it, and bring it to the convention center with your registration fee payment.
ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture has hundreds of resources on these topics—fruit production, farm planning, farm to school, farm marketing—and many, many more. You can find them on our website at https://attra.ncat.org/. And remember that our agriculture specialists are just a phone call or email away if you have questions! Call 1-800-346-9140 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.