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New Mexico Organic Farming Conference slated for Feb. 18-19

ALBUQUERQUE - Members of New Mexico's $67 million organic farming industry will gather Friday and Saturday, Feb. 18-19, in Albuquerque for the Southwest's premier conference on organic and sustainable agriculture.


The two-day New Mexico Organic Farming Conference, to be held at the Marriott Albuquerque Pyramid North, 5151 San Francisco Road NE, provides more than 30 production and marketing workshops, a locally grown organic food luncheon on Saturday and a large exhibitor hall for producers to learn about organic farming.

The event is organized by New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service, New Mexico Department of Agriculture, New Mexico Organic Commodity Commission and the non-profit organization Farm to Table. The registration fee is $100 for the entire conference or $65 for one day. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. each day.

To participate in the Saturday luncheon, participants must register before Jan. 26. For more information visit the website at http://www.farmtotablenm.org or call Le Adams at 505-473-1004 ext. 10 or Joanie Quinn at 505-841-9067.

Not so long ago, there was very little information about organic farming and very little research being done to help organic farmers improve their practices. During the past 20 years that situation has changed dramatically through land-grant university research and the work of the Organic Farming Research Foundation.

Keynote speaker Jane Sooby of the foundation will provide an overview of the hot topics in organic research, some recent results and information on how to set up a simple on-farm trial. Sooby will speak at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

"Organic Farming Research Foundation has been at the forefront of supporting research to help farmers on the ground understand the ecological processes that underlie their work," said Del Jimenez, NMSU Extension agriculture specialist, who advises many New Mexico organic farmers. "Jane Sooby has directed the foundation's competitive grant program since 1999. In addition to managing grants, her responsibilities include tracking and documenting organic activity in the land-grant university system, educating and informing on organic issues, and generally advocating for organic agriculture."

Jon Boren, an associate dean in NMSU's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and director of NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service, will deliver the conference opening welcome at 9 a.m. Friday.

Each day following the opening presentation, there will be workshop sessions on a variety of topics in six categories - soil, crop, livestock, weed and pest management, farm support and market gardening. Topics range from berry production to poultry production for market, from building small-scale bee habitat to rotational grazing in New Mexico, and from small-scale drip irrigation to integrated pest management of squash bugs, apple maggots and more.