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Small Farms Newsletter - Winter Learning Opportunities

'Tis the season for conferences

Winter is full of conferences and other learning opportunities.  

The list of conferences seems to be growing.  In this newsletter, I'm sharing a non-exhaustive list of conferences in the region you may be interested in.

Also, we have several online learning opportunities from Extension, you'll find those in this list as well.

Plus! My conference survival tips.

Hope you're enjoying this holiday season.

Online options
Local Foods College is a weekly webinar series going from January 17th to March 7th with topics on 
poultry production, high tunnel disease management, accessing capital, and other topics.  Watch these from home or gather with others at a viewing site.

Beef Home Study Courses are self- paced online courses that start January 17th.  Options include Cow/Calf Nutrition, Health Management for the Cow/Calf Herd, and Introduction to Cattle Feeding.

Regional conferences

MN Organic ConferenceJanuary 12-13, St. Cloud, MN

MFVGA - Getting Started in High TunnelsJanuary 18th, St. Cloud, MN

MFVGA - Beginning Berry ProductionJanuary 18, St. Cloud, MN

MFVGA - Upper Midwest Regional Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference and Trade ShowJanuary 19-20, St. Cloud, MN

Organic Vegetable Production ConferenceFebruary 3-4, Madison, WI. 

SFA Midwest Soil Health SummitFebruary 15-16, Fergus Falls, MN

MOSES Organic Farming ConferenceFebruary 23-25, La Crosse, WI

Conference survival tips
We've all been there - the first morning of the conference is going great, you've had some coffee, learned a few things, energy is high.  

Then you eat lunch, a lot of lunch, and the rest of the day goes downhill.  Plus, by day two, you get the "drinking water from a fire hose" feeling as you try to absorb more information.  There's gotta be a better way, right?

Well, here are my tips to make your conference more enjoyable and productive.
  1. Stand - sitting all day is no good!  Don't feel like you HAVE to stay seated the whole time. 
  2. Take it easy at the buffet - Food and eating it are my favorite things.  I've attended several of these conferences myself, and the food is great, and there's a lot of it.  But, food comas are real, and they don't mix well with learning.
  3. Take notes with your phone's camera - I can better pay attention to the speaker if I'm not trying to furiously scribble what their presentation slide says - taking a photo is quick and easy and allows you to focus more on the presentation.
  4. Take a break! - If I spend the whole time at the conference in sessions, I eventually hit a wall.  While I might be trying to learn, I'm not because I'm tired and probably a little crabby.  Take a walk, get some fresh air, or find some other diversion to give your brain a break.
  5. Network - I always learn new things by talking to farmers, other ag professionals, and folks at the trade show.  Ask them about the sessions they've attended and learn about their farms/line of work.
  6. Ditch a session - have you ever gone to a session thinking it was one thing, and turned out to be something else entirely?  Well, as polite Midwesterners, we may feel obligated to stay.  You're not, it's ok, you can do it, just get up and leave quietly.
  7. Drink some water -'s water, and you've been drinking too much coffee :) 

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