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Focus on Farming: Annual conference offers speakers, trade show, and more

Nov 2nd, 2012 | Category: Events, News

EVERETT – More than 500 farmers are expected for the 9th annual Focus on Farming Conference, scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Comcast Arena in Everett. This year’s theme is “Feeding Our Future,” and will once again include a 17,000-square-foot trade show, offering farmers and those interested in local food production a look at the latest equipment models, samples and demonstrations.

World-renowned chef Ann Cooper and former Marine Sgt. Colin Archipley top the speakers list for this year’s Focus on Farming. The two will give keynotes related to their work in the industry. For Cooper, that means speaking about years of work advocating for better food for all children in public schools. The celebrated author, educator and chef will speak during the celebrated Focus on Farming gourmet lunch. Archipley is known for his small-scale organic farm in southern California, established in 2007, that utilizes innovative growing techniques to produce the highest quality, nutritious and great tasting locally grown organic food.

“Focus on Farming’s keynote speakers are routinely among the best speakers in the nation regarding agriculture and food issues,” Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon said. “This year is no different.”

Cooper has been a voice of reform by focusing on the links between food, family, farming and children’s health and wellness. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York, Cooper has been a chef for more than 30 years, including positions with Holland America Cruises, Radisson Hotels, Telluride Ski Resort and the renowned Putney Inn in Vermont. She has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, and Time Magazine and has appeared on NPR’s ‘Living on Earth,’ ABC’s Nightline, CNN, PBS’ To The Contrary and the CBS Morning Show and many other media outlets.

Cooper has shared her knowledge and experience by speaking at the Smithsonian Institute, the National Restaurant Association, the Heifer Foundation, Chefs Collaborative, the International Association of Culinary Professionals and numerous conferences. She has been honored by SLOW Food USA, selected as a Kellogg Food and Society Policy Fellow, and awarded an honorary doctorate from SUNY Cobleskill for her work on sustainable agriculture. She also is past president of The American Culinary Federation of Central Vermont, and served on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Standards Board.

Archipley, along with his wife Karen, runs Archi’s Acres, which offers combat veterans meaningful training and employment opportunities in the high growth industry of sustainable crop production. The morning keynote will feature their work with veterans and farming, which works to augment and accelerate the agricultural revolution across America. The Archipleys will also teach an entrepreneur farming session in one of the day’s tracks.

In addition to Cooper and Archipley, Focus on Farming participants will hear from Joe Rogoff, Whole Foods Market Pacific Northwest Regional president. Whole Foods Market has a long history of working with local farmers to help create markets for locally grown food. Rogoff will wrap up the keynotes with information on the company’s Local Producer Loan Program (LPLP), which provides up to $10 million in low-interest loans to small, local producers to make it easier for them to grow their businesses and bring more local products to market.

With an added track this year, participants have a chance to focus on one of seven areas – specialty crops, livestock, nursery/greenhouse, business of farming/marketing, local grains; new/beginning farmers; small equipment – or pick from among all the sessions.

The Focus on Farming Conference includes a gourmet lunch prepared by local chefs with local products. The all day conference ends with a “local taste,” offering a chance to sample a variety of local fares.

Sponsors and partners include Snohomish County, King County, Washington State University, Snohomish County Extension, Edward D. Hansen Conference Center, Snohomish Conservation District, Sunbreak Nursery Company, WA State Department of Agriculture, WA State Nursery & Landscape Association, Whole Foods Market, Cedar Grove Compost, USDA Farm Services Agency, and USDA Risk Management Agency.

Registration for adults is $55, youth $10. To register for the conference or for information about becoming a sponsor, go to www.focusonfarming.org. For questions, contact Linda Neunzig, at (425) 388-7170 or linda.neunzig@snoco.org.

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