Thank you 2022 Speakers

Dan Barber

Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York

Dan is the chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and the author of The Third Plate. He also co-founded Row 7 Seed Company, which brings together chefs and plant breeders to develop new varieties of vegetables and grains. In 2009, he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.

  • January 6, 3:00 pm – Keynote: The Future of Seeds—brought to you by farmers, breeders, and chefs

Tom Cotter

Cotter Farm

Tom is a fourth-generation farmer from southern Minnesota who has been observing the soil for 35 years. After he and his father grew up doing full tillage on all their acres, they started using cover crops in the late 1990’s. Then in 2010, Tom bought a used strip till bar to reduce his tillage practices. Now he uses reduced tillage, cover crops, and livestock grazing to maximize soil health across the farm. Tom is on the board of the Minnesota Soil Health Coalition.

  • January 7, 10:45 am – Bringing Cows, Covers, and Reduced Tillage into your Organic World

Laurie Demeritt

The Hartman Group

As Chief Executive Officer, Laurie drives the vision, strategy, operations and results-oriented culture for the company's associates as The Hartman Group furthers its offerings of tactical thinking, consumer and market intelligence, cultural competency, and innovative intellectual capital to the global food and beverage marketplace.

  • January 7, 1:30 pm – Keynote: What Drives Consumer Demand for Organic Food Products?

Nicole Droher

Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Nicole is the Compliance Officer for the Meat, Poultry, and Egg Inspection program at the MDA. In this role, she conducts investigations across the state involving meat and poultry products in commerce. She also conducts in-depth audits at “equal to” establishments. Nicole previously worked as a Meat Inspector and a Meat Scientist with Wisconsin’s Meat Inspection Program and spent over 30 years working in her family’s meat establishment.

  • January 6, 4:30 pm – Market Opportunities: What does it take to produce and sell “Halal” certified meat in Minnesota?

Tiffany Farrier

Kandi Acres

Tiffany is a goat farmer from Hawick, Minnesota.

  • January 6, 4:30 pm – Market Opportunities: What does it take to produce and sell “Halal” certified meat in Minnesota?

Esteve Giraud

Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University (ASU)

Esteve is a Ph.D. Candidate at the School of Sustainability at ASU and serves as a Research Associate at the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems. In 2021, she co-authored the report "The Critical To-Do list for Organic Agriculture: 46 recommendations for the President" which provided policy recommendations to leverage the positive impacts of organic on human health, the economy, and climate.

  • January 6, 4:30 pm – Resilience through Organic Agriculture: Recommendations for Policy Action

Ariel Kagan

Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University

Ariel is a resource economist with expertise in state and federal agriculture policy and currently serves as Program Manager for the Swette Center. Previously, she worked with the MDA Emerging Farmers initiative, a program designed to support historically underrepresented farmers by improving state policy and programs. Ariel holds a master’s degree from the University of British Columbia and a bachelor’s from Mount Holyoke College. She lives in St. Paul.

  • January 6, 4:30 pm – Resilience through Organic Agriculture: Recommendations for Policy Action

Serdar Mamedov

University of Minnesota Extension

Serdar is an Extension Educator in Health and Nutrition, where he actively promotes health and addresses food insecurity in refugee and immigrant communities. His work uses community-centered approaches to improve the food environment, build local capacity and resources, and deliver skills-based training.

  • January 6, 4:30 pm – Market Opportunities: What does it take to produce and sell “Halal” certified meat in Minnesota?

Wayne Martin

University of Minnesota Extension

Wayne is an Extension Educator for Alternative Livestock Systems where he works with smaller-scale and beginning farmers, including members of the new immigrant and Native American communities, to provide information on raising pigs, poultry, sheep, and goats. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador, worked on short-term projects in Poland, Bulgaria, and Jamaica, and was invited to speak in China on the topic of “Raising Pigs in Alternative Systems.”

  • January 6, 4:30 pm – Market Opportunities: What does it take to produce and sell “Halal” certified meat in Minnesota?

Monica McConkey

Minnesota Rural Mental Health Program

Monica has 25 years of experience in the behavioral health field as a counselor, program supervisor, and administrator. She currently works as a Rural Mental Health Counselor in Minnesota providing support to farmers, ranchers, and their families through a contract with the MN Ag Centers of Excellence. She is the owner of Eyes on the Horizon Consulting, a business through which she focuses on helping individuals and organizations increase resilience and mental wellness.

  • January 7, 2:45 pm – Bend Don't Break: Exploring Resilience

Dr. Kris Nichols

Dr. Nichols is a leader in the movement to regenerate soils for healthy crops, food, people, and planet. She is a senior soil scientist with the Food Water Wellness Foundation, a consultant with Canadian Organic Growers, and the Research Director at MyLand Company LLC. She is also the founder and principal scientist of KRIS (Knowledge for Regeneration and Innovation in Soils) Systems Education & Consultation. Kris was previously Chief Scientist at Rodale Institute and a Research (Soil) Microbiologist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She received Bachelor of Science degrees in Plant Biology and in Genetics and Cell Biology from the University of Minnesota in 1995, a master’s degree in environmental microbiology from West Virginia University in 1999, and a Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Maryland in 2003.

  • January 7, 9:30 am – Keynote: Regenerating Soil with Organic, Biologically-Based Practices
  • January 7, 10:45 am – “Kiss the Ground” Discussion

Nicholas Podoll

Rodale Institute

Nic is a Midwest Organic Consultant with Rodale Institute and a lifelong organic farmer. He grew up on a certified organic farm in southeast North Dakota, where his family raised small grains and vegetable seed. Nic is IOIA (International Organic Inspectors Association) certified in crops and holds a master’s in agricultural & extension education from North Carolina State University. He is located near Nevis in north-central Minnesota.

  • January 7, 2:45 pm – Transitioning to an Organic System

Aubrey Streit Krug

The Land Institute

Aubrey is a writer, teacher, and researcher who studies stories of relationships between humans and plants. She is Director of Ecosphere Studies at The Land Institute, where she leads civic science communities that bring together researchers and people around the U.S. to grow and study future perennial grain crops. Aubrey grew up in a small town in Kansas, where her parents farm wheat, and she loves rocky prairie hillsides.

  • January 7, 2:45 pm – Science, Community, Story: Social Learning for a Just Perennial Future

Anneliese Walker

Walker Farms

Anneliese (Liese) is a passionate regenerative farmer from Princeton, Minnesota. She’s enthusiastic about all things small business, food transparency, and community building. She believes that through better storytelling and consumer engagement, we can build our small businesses, rebuild local economies, and thrive in rural areas. Liese published her small business marketing course, “Approaching the Internet as an Ecosystem,” in February 2021.

  • January 6, 4:30 pm – The Buyer's Journey: Digital Tools to Make an Impact

Eric Wenberg

Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance (SSGA)

Since 2019, Eric has served as Executive Director of SSGA, the national business association of the identity preserved soya and specialty grains’ companies/growers and shipping. Previously, he served as a career member of the Senior Foreign Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture offices in Ottawa, Pretoria, Warsaw, and Moscow. In that role, he assisted U.S. agricultural businesses to export, negotiated trade agreements, and reported on agricultural conditions. He graduated from the University of Wyoming with a master’s degree in agricultural economics.

  • January 7, 2:45 pm – Shipping Containers: Shipping Outside the "Box”


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