2016 Conference Tracks

Check out our specialized conference track session information by clicking one of the links below.


Past Conference Schedule

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

8:00AM - 9:00AM - Registration open

8:30AM - Exhibit Hall Open

9:45AM - Welcome by PA Secretary of Agriculture, Mr. Russell Redding

10:05AM - Conference Overview, Dr. Jim Travis, GPOF Agenda Chairperson

10:15AM - 12:15PM - Tuesday Morning Conference Track Session

12:15PM - 1:45PM - Organic Lunch and Keynote, Gary Zimmer

1:45PM - Exhibits and Refreshments in Exhibit Hall

2:30PM - 4:30PM - Tuesday Afternoon Conference Track Session

5:00PM - Cocktails and Refreshments in Exhibit Hall

6:00PM - 8:15PM - Organic Plated Dinner and Dinner Keynote, Jim Gerritsen

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

7:15AM - 8:15AM - Organic Breakfast Buffet

8:15AM - 10:10AM - Wednesday Morning Conference Track Session

10:10AM - 10:40AM - Break & refreshments in Exhibit Hall

10:40AM - 12:30PM - Wednesday Late Morning Conference Track Session

12:30PM - 3rd Annual GPOF Conference concludes

 


Past Keynote Speaker - Gary Zimmer

The Future of Organic Crop & Livestock Production

Being involved in projects with large food companies, large farms and traveling the world has given me a broad view of organic farming-- my thoughts for the future and being a profitable, successful farm. Just getting a high price may be more challenging—the demand is there and more people will become involved. Position yourself for long term, sustainable, profitable farming.

Gary Zimmer, President, Midwestern BioAg

Gary Zimmer, President, Midwestern BioAg


Gary Zimmer is Co-Founder, President and Chief Visionary Officer of Midwestern BioAg.  Known as the "father" of biological agriculture, Zimmer is an internationally known author, speaker, and consultant. He owns Otter Creek Organic Farm, a family-operated, award-winning 1,000 acre farm near Lone Rock, WI, and has been on the board of Taliesin Preservation Inc. since 2011. Zimmer is the author of two books, The Biological Farmer and Advancing Biological Farming, and numerous articles on soils and livestock nutrition. Zimmer holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master's degree in Dairy Nutrition from the University of Hawaii.


Past Dinner Keynote - Jim Gerritsen

Growing the Organic Community

Promise and opportunity - and pitfalls - lay ahead as the organic sector develops and matures. Jim Gerritsen, president of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA), the farmer-run national trade group offers his insight into what the future might hold.  Of particular concern to Jim - and others in the organic community - is what role will family farmers play going forward into the future of organic? Will they be leaders or will they be led?

 

Jim Gerritsen, Photo Credit: Lottie Hedley

Jim Gerritsen, Photo Credit: Lottie Hedley

Jim Gerritsen and his family have owned and operated Wood Prairie Family Farm as an isolated organic farm in Aroostook County, Maine for 40 years.  MOFGA-certified organic since 1982, the Gerritsens grow organic early-generation Maine Certified Seed Potatoes, seed crops, vegetables and grain.  They primarily sell their organic seed crops through a mail order catalog and web-based business to customers in all fifty States. Jim co-founded and has served as longtime President of the national farmer-run membership trade organization, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA).  OSGATA served as lead plaintiff in the landmark Federal lawsuit, OSGATA et al v. Monsanto. In the past, Jim served as President of Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) and for twenty-five years served on the MOFGA Certification Committee.  Jim was instrumental in helping MOFGA pass Maine’s mandatory GMO Labeling law in 2013, the second such law in the United States.  In 2011, Jim was named one of ‘25 Visionaries Who Are Changing the World’ by Utne Reader.  Jim was a participant in both of the weeklong Agrarian Elders Gatherings in Big Sur, California in 2014 and 2016. Jim spoke in NYC before the United Nations General Assembly in 2014 about the advantages of organic farming.

2016 Schedule


Dairy Track

Tuesday Morning Session - Foundation of 100% Grass Fed Dairy Production

Presenters - Dr Sylvia Abel-Caines, DVM, Ms. Sarah Flack

First Hour - A review of the nutrient demands of cows on pasture and the impact of forage quality in maintaining health and productivity. Understanding the unique nutritional challenges of 100% grass-fed DAIRY cows at different stages of lactation is essential to make timely management decisions.

Second Hour - Successful grazing systems are based on meeting the needs of the plants, soils and livestock.  This session will cover these fundamental principals including how to measure pasture dry matter, calculate paddock sizes, stock densities, stock rates and acreage needs as well as strategies to use grazing to improve pastures.

Tuesday Afternoon Session - Maximizing Forage Intake for Grass Milk Production

Presenters - Dr Sylvia Abel-Caines, DVM, Ms. Sarah Flack

First Hour - A discussion on how genetics, calf management and heifer growth impact rumen development and dry matter intake from pasture. A review of how simple, successful 100% grass fed systems from around the country and around the world strategize for full-rumen fill.

Second Hour - In this workshop we will discuss many of the strategies which can be used to increase your cows forage intake from pasture so they can maintain better body condition, make more milk and have better reproductive performance.

Wednesday Morning Session - A Deeper Look at Grass Fed Diary Nutrition for Grass Fed Milk

Presenters - Dr Sylvia Abel-Caines, DVM, Ms. Sarah Flack

An in-depth look at the role of specific essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins that affect how cows utilize nutrients from pasture. What is missing in the soil and in the grass can impact the productivity of the cow and the nutrients present in the milk.

Wednesday Late Morning Session - Deeper Look at Pastures on the Grass Fed Dairy, Panel for 2nd Hour

Presenters - Dr Sylvia Abel-Caines, DVM, Ms. Sarah Flack

Panel - Terry Ingram, long-term GM producer - Moderator; Ron Holter - MD, long-term producer; Myron Martin - MD, long-term producer; Anne Philips - NY, long-term producer; Alvin Peachey - PA, transitioned to GM fully within the year

Higher quality pasture makes it easier to maximize forage intake, so in this session we will look at how we can use the livestock to improve pasture quality, density and productivity. Topics will include the use of different stock rates, stock densities, trampling, variable regrowth periods, taller or shorter pre-grazing heights, & post grazing residual as well as different annual and perennial forages and soil health.

Dairy Track Presenters

Dr Silvia Abel-Caines

Dr Silvia Abel-Caines

Dr. Silvia Abel-Caines is a Veterinarian with a PhD in Ruminant Nutrition. Her Master degree at the University of Tennessee focused on neonatal immunity and colostrum supplementation in dairy calves and the doctoral research at the University of Nebraska, focused on improving the fatty acid profile of milk through nutrition. She is a certified grazing planner, and aims to address animal health and productivity through balanced nutrition. She is currently the Staff Ruminant Nutritionist for Organic Valley / CROPP.

Sarah Flack

Sarah Flack

Sarah Flack is a consultant specializing in providing practical information on grass based and organic livestock production to farmers, organizations, institutions and individuals. She has a diverse background in sustainable agriculture, which includes both on-farm and academic experience. She is nationally known for her public speaking, workshops, books and numerous articles on a range of agricultural topics.

Sarah received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Agriculture and Biology and Masters of Science in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Vermont. She also has post graduate training in subjects including organic and biodynamic certification, business management, Holistic Management and organic production practices including: soil fertility, health care of livestock, animal welfare, and medicinal herbs. In addition to academic training, her farming experience includes management of both organic and non-organic dairy, sheep, beef, pastured poultry, and pigs.


Field Crops Track

Tuesday Morning Session - Resilient Farming in a Changing Climate

Presenter - Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens

While coping with a profound drought in 2016, the Martens have been thinking of ways to make our farms more resilient and resistant to the effects of extreme weather conditions.

They will talk about the importance of soil health, intentional biodiversity, innovative crop rotations, cultural defense, collaboration between neighboring farms, and useful emerging technology.

Tuesday Afternoon Session - Managing Soil Fertility and Fertilizers

Presenter - Gary Zimmer

Being certified organic is the easy part—just don’t use prohibited products or practices. Being SUCCESSFUL and having fun is more challenging. This session is about inputs and management strategies for producing high yielding, high quality organic crops. The focus will be on pastures, hay, corn and soybeans. I have been following many successful organic farmers for years and they have a lot in common.

Wednesday Morning Session - Resilient Farming in a Changing Climate Continued

Presenter - Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens

While coping with a profound drought in 2016, the Martens have been thinking of ways to make our farms more resilient and resistant to the effects of extreme weather conditions.

They will talk about the importance of soil health, intentional biodiversity, innovative crop rotations, cultural defense, collaboration between neighboring farms, and useful emerging technology.

Wednesday Late Morning Session - Soil Management and Needed Tools for Successful Organic Production

Presenter - Gary Zimmer

How to deal with tillage, cover crops, weed control, and what tools are necessary for success. This session is about what successful corn-bean-hay farmers have in common and the tools they use.

Field Crops Track Presenters

Gary Zimmer, President, Midwestern BioAg

Gary Zimmer, President, Midwestern BioAg

Gary Zimmer our keynote speaker and Co-Founder, President and Chief Visionary Officer of Midwestern BioAg.  Known as the "father" of biological agriculture, Zimmer is an internationally known author, speaker, and consultant. He owns Otter Creek Organic Farm, a family-operated, award-winning 1,000 acre farm near Lone Rock, WI, and has been on the board of Taliesin Preservation Inc. since 2011. Zimmer is the author of two books, The Biological Farmer and Advancing Biological Farming, and numerous articles on soils and livestock nutrition. Zimmer holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master's degree in Dairy Nutrition from the University of Hawaii.

Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens

Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens

Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens, with their son Peter, farm 1600 acres of certified organic grain crops in the Finger Lakes region of New York.  They have farmed organically since 1992. They also own and operate Lakeview Organic Grain, an organic feed and seed operation serving organic farmers throughout the Northeast.


Vegetable Track

Tuesday Morning Session - Growing Potatoes Organically

Presenters - Jim Gerritsen

Farmers have been growing potatoes for over 7000 years.  By now you’d think we’d be pretty good at it!  So why does production of organic potatoes remain one of the most challenging – yet rewarding - crops for organic farmers to grow?  Come and learn what it takes to grow a great and profitable crop of organic potatoes.

Tuesday Afternoon Session - Managing Diseases and Soil Health

Presenters - Dr Beth Gugino

Come learn about common diseases caused by bacterial, fungal and oomycete pathogens in organic diversified vegetable production. Understanding what diseases are likely to occur on your vegetable crops and having a basic understanding their identification and biology is critical to successful management especially since most of our tools need to be used both proactively and preventatively. One important long-term tool is soil health. We will explore the importance of soil health as it relates to plant health and disease management.

Wednesday Morning Session - Why the Future of Organic Rests Upon Organic Seed

Presenters - Jim Gerritsen

The intricacies of a well-designed system, like Maine’s Certified Seed potato program, will be used to illustrate the benefits to organic farmers obtained by planting excellent organic seed.  Sophisticated organic seed systems will absolutely advantage farmers - and will become the wave of future - if today we are wise enough to make proper investment and commitment to organic seed.

Wednesday Late Morning Session - Best Use of Cover Crops in Vegetables

Presenters - Steve Groff

Vegetables rotations provide many opportunities to use cover crops as options abound, especially if there is a window of 6 weeks or more between crops. What are the benefits of several of the more popular cover crops and how can you design the best mix for your situation?

Vegetable Track Presenters

Dr. Beth Gugino, PSU Associate Professor

Dr. Beth Gugino, PSU Associate Professor

Beth K. Gugino is an Associate Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology at The Pennsylvania State University located at University Park, PA. Her extension and adaptive research program focuses on the identification, epidemiology and management of important and emerging diseases of major vegetable crops in Pennsylvania and the Northeast region. She works closely industry stakeholder groups like the Pennsylvania Vegetable Grower Association and has presented at the Annual Pennsylvania Sustainable Agriculture meetings. Most recently, she agreed to serve a one year term on the Board of PCO. She received her B.S. in Horticulture and M.S. and Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from The Pennsylvania State University. She was a post-doc at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station with Cornell University working with diseases of vegetable crops and soil health for four years before returning to Penn State in June 2008.

Steve Groff, Cover crop Coaching

Steve Groff, Cover crop Coaching

Steve Groff and his family, farm 225 acres of cash grain crops, pumpkins and 2 acres of high tunnel heirloom tomatoes in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. For the past 21 years his Cedar Meadow Farm has conducted thousands of cover crop research trials- out of which he developed the well-known Tillage Radish.

Steve recently launched Cover Crop Coaching- a business that “trains the trainers” in devising management strategies that document the profitability of cover crops.

Jim Gerritsen, Wood Prairie Family Farm

Jim Gerritsen, Wood Prairie Family Farm

Jim Gerritsen and his family have owned and operated Wood Prairie Family Farm as an isolated organic farm in Aroostook County, Maine for 40 years.  MOFGA-certified organic since 1982, the Gerritsens grow organic early-generation Maine Certified Seed Potatoes, seed crops, vegetables and grain.  They primarily sell their organic seed crops through a mail order catalog and web-based business to customers in all fifty States. 


Fruit Track

Tuesday Morning Session - Beginner Organic Fruit - Establishing, Growing, Processing, and Marketing

Presenters - Dr. Jim Travis

You can grow high quality organic fruit in PA and the Mid-Atlantic region.  In this session, you will learn what the keys are to growing and marketing organic fruit in PA and the Mid-Atlantic region.  There will be discussion on how to begin organic transition or establish an organic fruit planting.  Discussion will include selection of crop varieties, planting and training systems, pest management, cultural practices throughout the season and winter preparation.   Many factors can impact the success or failure of organic fruit plantings, learn what they are and how to prioritize your decisions.

Presenter - Mr. Mike Hagan

The speaker is transitioning from holistic growing to full organic growing and has applied for certification. His goals are to work in an organic environment while protecting pollinators. He will also share his mistakes from the perspective of a new organic grower. Discussion will include marketing organic fruit, sales techniques, farmer's markets, pricing and competition at the markets.

Tuesday Afternoon Session - Successes and Challenges of Direct Marketing and Value Added; Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Successes and Challenges of Direct Marketing and Value Added, Presenter - Ms. Katrina Hill

Come learn about the successes and challenges that Oyler’s Organic Farms & Market have had in marketing certified organic products on the East coast.  Get insight into what has and hasn’t worked with interacting with wholesale accounts such as distributors, grocery stores, and home delivery services.  Marketing products through their on farm market, farmers market, buying clubs, and community supported agriculture (CSA) will also be addressed.  The process of developing, making, and marketing the Oyler’s value added products will be covered including apple cider, applesauce, and apple juice.  Katrina will briefly discuss the process of applying for and receiving two value added producer grants the farm used in helping to increase sales for their apple cider and applesauce.  Come for an overall informative session on what it has taken for the Oyler family to start with an idea, implement, and evolve their marketing strategy to meet the demands of consumers.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions, Presenter - Mr. Art Metzger

His workshop will offer a lively look at the many decisions faced when developing a new organic orchard from scratch.  There are many aspects and many informational spiritual and physical crossroads involved.  The workshop will provide a first-hand look at the decision making process, mistakes and successes of this first-time orchardist.

Wednesday Morning Session - Best Cover Crop Options for Fruit Plantings

Presenter - Mr. Steve Groff

Cover crops are well established as a tried and true practice in a row crop systems. But can they be implemented with fruits? What do we know and what do we think will work in this situation?

Wednesday Late Morning Session - Management of Pest and Beneficial Insects in Organic Orchards

Presenter - Dr. Greg Krawczyk

The presentation will concentrate on understanding the biology and behavior of insect pests and beneficial organisms in organically managed fruit orchards. With over twenty different insect pests species potentially impacting various parts of orchard ecosystem, the emphasis will be placed on interactions among different organisms and methods to limit the negative impact of fruit specific insect pests.  It will discuss the most effective monitoring practices and the best utilization of available management tools, including but not limited to insecticides approved for organic fruit production.  The opportunities and potential pitfalls of cultural and biological control tactics will be discussed within the context of fruit orchard monoculture and seasonal variations of weather conditions.  The presentation will be at least partially based on experience gathered during over ten years of managing a certified organic apple orchard located at the PSU FREC in Biglerville.

Fruit Track Presenters

Dr Jim Travis, Travis Organics

Dr Jim Travis, Travis Organics

Jim Travis has been growing organic peaches, apples and pears for the last 7 years.  His farm has been USDA certified organic for the last 5 years.  Before becoming an organic fruit grower he was the extension fruit disease specialist with Penn State University for 29 years. During his time at Penn State he conducted research on the disease problems facing fruit growers with the goal of finding practical solutions including organic options.  Jim’s educational background includes a biology degree from Gettysburg College in 1975, a master’s degree in entomology from Penn State University in 1978 and a PhD degree in horticulture and plant pathology from North Carolina State University in 1981. Jim’s academic background and the practical experience he has gained as an organic fruit grower has given him a unique perspective on what is required to successfully grow fruit organically.  Jim employs management practices to achieve a high level of fresh quality fruit from his organic orchards.

Mike Hagan

Mike Hagan

Mike grew up in northeastern North Carolina surrounded by agriculture. As a youngster Mike helped out on a small orchard that produced several varieties of apples among them Jonathans and Winesaps. Sadly the orchard disappeared upon the death of the owner and few apple orchards now exist in that part of the state. Mike and Georgia purchased a house with some land in Carroll County in 2008. Shortly after they decided it would be fun to plant a “few” apple and other fruit trees. They named their farm Wee Bit Farm as they wanted to focus on growing several types of fruits but in smaller quantities. The original goal was to open a roadside fruit stand. After attending a Mother Earth Festival in PA, they decided to try to grow organic and have been practicing organic for the past 5 years. They now have over 450 trees including apples, pears (European and Asian), plums, peaches and cherries. They grow asparagus, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries as well. They market their fruit and other items at a local farmer’s market where they spend a lot of time educating shoppers about organic and organic certification. Their goal is to share the excitement of fresh, delicious and sustainably grown fruit with their customers. Mike’s application to be certified organic is currently being processed by the MD Dept of Agriculture.

Katrina Hill, Oyler's Organic Farms

Katrina Hill, Oyler's Organic Farms

Katrina Hill works full time on her family’s sixth generation family farm, Oyler’s Organic Farms & Market.  Their 360 acre certified organic diversified family farm is located 10 miles northwest of Gettysburg, PA.  The 2016 crop is their ninth year being certified organic.  Certified organic apples, peaches, and apple cider are the centerpieces of their farming operation.  Grass fed/grass finished beef, pastured pork, pastured chicken, Thanksgiving turkeys, vegetables, and small grains are also enterprises on the farm.  Katrina works with marketing the farm’s products both through wholesale and retail opportunities.  In 2012, a major expansion of the farm was completed which included a retail farm market, commercial kitchen, cider press room, packing line, and cold storage.  Certified organic apple cider and applesauce are produced in the facility.

Arthur Metzger, Metzger Heritage Farm

Arthur Metzger, Metzger Heritage Farm

Arthur Metzger of Metzger Heritage Farm in Potter County is a veteran of living in rural Pennsylvania. Five years ago, with an eclectic background but little experience with orcharding he planted an apple and pear orchard on the old family farm. Under the watchful eye of six century-old Northern Spy apple trees, and with a young orchard coming into production, our focus will narrow to producing many varieties of apples for multiple uses and an on-farm cider operation. The old dairy barn will be the center of the cider operation and Fall activities in 2017.

Dr Greg Krawczyk, PSU Associate Professor

Dr Greg Krawczyk, PSU Associate Professor

Greg Krawczyk was born in Poland. He graduated from Agricultural University in Lublin, Poland with a bachelor degree in horticulture and Master of Science degree in plant pathology. After moving to United Sates he graduated from Michigan State University with a Ph.D. degree in entomology.  He and his family moved to Pennsylvania in 1996 and since 1999 Greg holds the position of the Extension Tree Fruit Entomologist at The Pennsylvania State University. The main areas of interest include biology and behavior of fruit insect pests and beneficial organisms, development and improvement of insect monitoring and alternative management practices and practical implementation of sustainable agriculture principles.  Since the 2010 season, the majority of research and extension effort is dedicated toward better understanding of biology and  behavior and development of effective and sustainable management strategies against invasive pest brown marmorated stink bug. The results of his applied research and extension activities are published in scientific journals and shared with growers through extension resources such as production guides, newsletters, weekly web updates and grower meetings and workshops. Greg’s position is based at the PSU Fruit Research and Extension Center in Biglerville, PA.