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Science and the Environment

'Organic and Green Energy Farming Conference' to be Held in Springfield This Weekend

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Starting Thursday evening, the nonprofit Missouri Organic Association will host the fourth annual Organic and Green Energy Farming Conference at the University Plaza Hotel in Springfield. As KSMU’s Samuel Crowe reports, the conference will feature 54 hands-on workshops to educate both farmer and consumer.

The three day conference will focus on farmer-related topics, such as biology of soils, establishing regional food systems, livestock production, and row crop farming. But Sue Baird, executive director of the Missouri Organic Association, says the conference will cater to the backyard gardener too.

“We have presentations on making your own mozzarella cheese. [Presentations] on preserving and canning your own foods, because that is knowledge that has been lost. Making kombucha and kefir. Companion planning, raised bed gardening for your backyard. So we have a lot of consumer topics as well,” Baird said.

A discussion with keynote speaker Dr. Don M. Huber will address the devastating effects genetically engineered food crops have on animals and humans. Huber will focus on glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, and its link to infertility and miscarriage in farm animals.

And for the first time, Baird says the conference will address alternative energy sources.

“It will be assessing your homes for energy uses. Making your own biofuels from vegetable waste, and how you can use that into your small equipment things. Wind turbines and solar energy for the home and for farm use. It’s going to be really exciting,” Baird said.

Baird says that according to the United States Department of Agriculture, an organic farm will net return $20,000 a year more than a conventional farm. She says here in the Ozarks and around the country, many small farming communities are dying because of a lack of income. She says organic farming provides a way for families to stay on their farms, even those who raise crops and livestock using conventional methods.

“You don’t have to do it all organic at once. You can transition part of your farm, do what you’re comfortable with, set aside some and learn from that, and we feel that once they get a feel of how to farm organically, they are going to transition their whole farming into organic,” Baird said.

The conference will also feature organic foods, local wine and craft beer, and live music. Click here to register for the event.

For KSMU News, I’m Samuel Crowe.