Annual Conference Sessions & Features 2023


Saturday, February 11, 2023
Gorecki Conference Center
College of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph

Click HERE to return to the SFA Annual Conference homepage for more information and registration.
This schedule is subject to change.

We highly recommend that you arrive on campus before 9:00 a.m. to find parking due to a large sports event.

Map of Guest Parking and Sidewalk Routes to the Conference Center (PDF)

Conference Kids Program   9:20a.m. - 4:20 p.m.

Ages 5 - 12 welcome.  Pre-register your kids when you register online for the conference.


Drop-off is at 9:20 after the Opening Plenary Session.
They will join you for lunch, which is on-your-own, including bring-your-own, or you can get a caterer ticket with your registration.
Ends at 4:30 p.m.


Children under 5 are free and welcome at the Conference, but are the responsibility of their parents.


Book Swap

Farm & Food Book Swap

Upstairs Elevator Lobby

Do you have some farming books collecting dust? Looking to get a jump on spring cleaning? Bring them with you to the conference and stop by the book swap table! There you can pass your books forward to other growers and to find some new-to-you reads to take home.


Fruit Tree Scionwood Swap


Room 204A during breaks and lunch



For those who enjoy fruit tree grafting or would like to give it a try, you can bring fresh scions from your favorite fruit trees to share with others and  bring home something new to try. 


8:30 a.m.Compeer Financial
Opening Plenary Session

Dale Woodbeck, SFA Board Vice President
Lucinda Winter, SFA Executive Director


9:20 BREAK - visit the exhibitors

9:40 a.m. Sessions

A Year in the Bee Yard

Quintin Holmberg, Homestead in the Sticks
Moderated by Yvonne Baller, East Central Chapter


Bee HivesQuintin is in his 11th season of beekeeping. While the first few years were a struggle to keep bees alive and produce honey, perseverance and mentoring from others have helped him create a small but sustainable beekeeping operation. Currently sitting at around 30 colonies, he has not purchased bees in five seasons.


Soil Health + Gut Health = Human Health

Jolene Carlson, Licensed Nutritionist, Rosehill Acres, Cokato MNJolene Carlson


As a licensed nutritionist and soil health advocate, Jolene Carlson will highlight the relationship of the soil ecosystem to that of the human gut and how it influences how we think, feel and eat. She will cover tools for healing the soil and the gut for health, disease prevention and quality of life. Jolene serves on the board of the Soil Health Coalition and SFA's Crow River Chapter, and has a small farm near Cokato.

Grazing: Continuous, Rotational, Adaptive, Mob - What's the Right Tool for the Job?

Doug Voss, SFA Grazing Lead, Voss Farms, Paynesville MNPundsack
Kent Solberg, SFA Senior Technical Advisor, Seven Pines Farm, Verndale MN


Discover how these different grazing management practices affect the land, the livestock, the grazer and the eater. Join in an interactive discussion with seasoned grazers Doug Voss and Kent Solberg, and gain a new perspective on integrating livestock on the landscape. Come with questions, comments and a curiosity for a fresh perspective on grazing management.


Record Keeping for Small Farms: Empower Your Decision Making and Make Your Farm More Profitable

Dan Zimmerli, SFA Community Organizer and Outreach Coordinator, Cedar Crate Farm, Waldorf MN
Erik Heimark, Central Lakes College Specialty Crops Farm Business Management Instructor, Maple Ridge Produce, Aitkin MN


Eric Heimark

Do you struggle with record keeping on your small farm? Not sure which records to keep track of? Not sure how to keep track of important information? Record keeping is a vital part of running a successful farming business. Good records are required for loans, grants, and most importantly, for your own business analysis. Cedar Crate Farm

In this presentation Dan Zimmerli of Cedar Crate Farm and Erik Heimark of Maple Ridge Farm will share their record keeping systems including what information to track (and not track), how to track it, and how to use that information to make their farms more profitable. We will also share a quick, simple way to track labor to determine your actual cost of production and why knowing your cost of production is important.


10:50 a.m. BREAK - visit the exhibitors

11:10 a.m. Sessions

Money Talk: Navigating Funding Opportunities for Emerging Farmers

Jan Joannides, Renewing the Countryside
Lillian Otieno, Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Moderated by Noelle Harden, Extension Educator and SFA Director, and Maddy Bartsch, SFA Cannon River Chapter Community Connector


Emerging Farmers: Come troubleshoot your financial needs, learn about new funding opportunities in Minnesota and meet some folks who can help. This interactive session will be followed by a luncheon in the same room for emerging farmers.

What is Profitability, and How Do I Get it?

Jared and CattleJared Luhman, SFA Soil Health Lead, Grass Fed Cattle Co.


All farmers strive for profitability in their farm and ranch businesses, yet many operate at a break-even or a loss. In this session, we'll define what it means to be profitable, explain how profit is different from cash flow, and identify the three keys to increasing profitability for farm and ranch businesses.

Opportunities and Challenges of Perennial Fruit

The Rev. Kerri Meyer, Good Courage Farm, Hutchinson MNClarion Grapes
John Knisley, Alternate Roots Farm, Madelia MN
Annie Klodd, Extension Educator, Fruit and Vegetable Production


Trying alternative and heirloom fruits presents both opportunity and challenges. Become prepared to diversify into fruit crops after hearing from a panel of experts. Two fruit farmers will discuss the successes and challenges they have experienced, and university staff will give an update on the search for new table grape varieties.

Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification: Why should your farm be certified?

MAWQCPAngie Walter, Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program Outreach Coordinator
Dorian Gatchell  
Dan Janski  


A panel of farmers certified in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program will discuss their experiences and why you should think about getting your farm certified. Plenty of time for Q&A and discussion will be included.


12:20 p.m. LUNCH on your own

1:50 p.m. Sessions

Burn the Box: Learning to Think Outside Current Paradigms in Agriculture

Doug Voss, SFA Grazing Lead, Voss Farms, Paynesville MNDoug & Kent
Kent Solberg, SFA Senior Technical Advisor, Seven Pines Farm, Verndale MN


We invest tremendous energy in building and maintaining mental boxes that create pitfalls for advancement. Looking at things from various perspectives can offer insight otherwise overlooked and undervalued. Join Kent Solberg and Doug Voss in a discussion about identifying and burning the mental boxes in agriculture.

Elevating Your Brand: Direct to Consumer Marketing Strategy

Sarah Carroll, Founder and Executive Director, Greener PasturesSarah, Sarah, Valerie
Sarah Wescott, Education and Communications Manager, Greener Pastures
Valerie Luhman, Grass Fed Cattle Co.
Moderated by Katie Feterl, SFA Communications Director


Do you sell farm products directly to customers? Are you struggling to make the most of your marketing strategy? Join us for the basics of social media and website marketing that centers your unique story. Learn how to identify and market to your dream customer and hone your brand strategy. Then, hear from a farmer about the power of email campaigns and high-quality video. And you'll have a chance to win a free business or farm photoshoot giveaway!

Adapting to Climate Change for Specialty Crop Growers 

Nick Olson, Prairie Drifter Farm, Litchfield MN; Land Stewardship Project
Natalie Hoidal, Extension Educator - Local Foods & Vegetable Production
Annie Klodd, moderator, Extension Educator - Fruit and Vegetable Production


Prairie Drifter FarmHow do we expect the Upper Midwest's climate to change in the next 20-40 years, and how can we begin to adapt our farms today? Learn about detailed climate projections for our region and how they may impact fruit and vegetable growers, then hear from Nick Olson (Prairie Drifter Farm) and Extension Educator Natalie Hoidal about creating a climate resilience plan for your farm.


Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship: Where Are We Now?

Nate Walter, DGA Mentor Grazier
Ryan Heinen, DGA Journeyworker
Luke Elsenpeter, DGA Mentor Grazier
Emily Dreier, DGA Journeyworker
Angie Walter, Moderator, Central Minnesota Education Coordinator, DGADairy Grazing Apprenticeship


Hear from Mentor Graziers and their former apprentices about the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program.  What went well and what did not.  What are they all doing now that the apprenticeship is over?  There will be time for questions and answers.


3:00 p.m. BREAK - visit the exhibitors

 3:20 p.m. Sessions

Sheep + Goats: Leveraging Small Ruminants for Large Impacts

Jordan Meyer Family

Jordan Meyer, Wholesome Family Grazing & Genetics
Jonathan Kilpatrick, SFA Soil Health Specialist

Sheep and goats often have a reputation for being difficult to manage and raise, but it Jonathandoesn't have to be this way. Jordan Meyer, from Wholesome Family Grazing & Genetics in Caledonia, MN, and Jonathan Kilpatrick (SFA) will show you how raising small ruminant flocks can be fun, highly-profitable, and used to create positive changes in your landscape. Come prepared to learn from two experienced graziers, who have managed large-scale operations, and glean skills from them to use on your farm, no matter how big or small.

Talking Climate Change in Rural Minnesota

Sarah HuntSarah Hunt and Theresa Keaveny, Climate Land Leaders


How do you talk with neighbors about the connections between agriculture and climate change? Do you talk at all? What is their reaction? We want to hear from you!
Theresa KeavenyIn this interactive session, our Climate Land Leaders partners will share highlights from research on climate change communication and get you talking about your experiences talking about climate change in your communities.


Applying Soil Health Principles to a Vegetable Farm

Julie Grossman, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Minnesota, Grossman Lab
Jimmy Bauman
, Farm Farm, Princeton MN
Natalie Hoidal, Moderator, Extension Educator - Local Foods & Vegetable Production


Grossman LabLearn about incorporating cover crops and no till principles into vegetable farming.  Julie Grossman will discuss her research on cover crops and the various ways they can be incorporated into vegetable farming. Jimmy Bauman will discuss how he and his wife Heather have managed their 2 acre vegetable farm without tillage.


Opportunities for Income Diversification through Agritourism

John Beaton, Fairhaven Farm, Saginaw MNStrawberry Patch
Hannah Bernhardt, Medicine Creek Farm, Finlayson MN
Brad Munsterteiger,  The Strawberry Basket & Big Woods Nectar, Monticello MN
Amy Barrett, Director of Communications, Explore Minnesota
Lucinda Winter
, SFA Executive Director, moderator


Fairhaven FarmJoin us and meet three SFA members who have deployed very different agrotourism strategies to increase revenue and build community on theirMedicine Creek farms: farm stays, the pizza farm experience, and a "U-Pick" /farm store experience. A representative from Minnesota Tourism will share information about the growth in demand for on-farm experiences and the opportunities presented by this trend. There will be time to ask questions and share your agrotourism story during the sesion.



4:20 p.m.  The Lakewinds Co-op Social Hour

Annual Conference

Join in an end-of-conference social hour with the community.  Snacks, a cash bar, local beer Lakewinds Food Co-opand cider tasting. A selection of delicious cheeses will be provided by Lakewinds Food Co-op.



Click here to return to the SFA Annual Conference homepage for more information.