Small Farm Conference

This past weekend was the Small Farm Conference in Columbia, MO. This was the 18th year for the conference, sponsored and organized by Small Farm Today magazine. I've written for them off and on for years and the magazine covers a lot of farm subjects, everything from cattle grazing to potbelly pigs, llamas, poultry, gardening, herbs and home canning.

There were heritage breed turkeys on display, and for sale.
The Conference has 3 tracts of speakers each of the 3 days, with subjects ranging from organic gardening, building raised beds and choosing the right heirloom vegetable for your garden, to cattle breeding, pasture management and livestock subjects. Each year the conference features dog trials and judging, where farm work dogs show off their skills at herding various animals (sheep, cattle, in this instance, ducks). It's a lot of fun to watch how the dogs work to outsmart the critters they're herding.

The goal was to put the ducks in a cage by convincing them it was their idea.

I spoke on using Marketing Your Business Through Social Media. I showed examples of my blog page here, my FaceBook and Twitter pages, too, and made the point that Social Media is the way small businesses can compete with the big businesses. If Conan O'Brian can have over one million people following him on Twitter by simply saying stupid things, then a business can do well saying smart things.

There were lots of interesting vendor booths. This one was offering engraved rocks for your garden, either ones they have in stock, or you can special order words to your liking. Weed This Garden! anyone?

Soap, brooms, lots of interesting produce from the garden. One booth was simply elderberry syrups, jellies and juices.  Evidently the hot new berry to grow is elderberry with several newly released varieties. Some bloom all at once (determinate) while others are bred to flower and fruit over an extended time (indeterminate). I came home with elderberry jelly and syrup, with some stem cutting to root for my garden next year.

This was my Long Creek Herbs booth, between an agriculture products business and the Missouri Conservation booth, on the right. I met a lot of really interesting people at the conference and the continuing interest in organic, sustainable growing and local foods was prominent.

Over the years of going to this conference, I've met lots of interesting people. It's where I first met our friend, Gayl Bousman who has Evening Shade Farm and who makes wonderful goats milk soap. This was another not so good food trip. I've never had a particularly good meal in Columbia, Missouri. Possibly being a college town, it's just not known for good food, and this year was no exception. I always try to find interesting food there, but it's pretty slim pickings.
Lots of information is exchanged over the chicken coops.
I've been on the road a lot this fall season, speaking at a lot of conferences and events and as much as I enjoy it, I readily admit, I'm glad I don't have any more speaking gigs until next March in Michigan! I need to get back to working on my own garden cleanup and construction. And I have hot peppers to process and dry. Happy gardening!


Grama Sue said...

We enjoyed your seminar! We always like to visit the Golden Corral in Columbia. It is the best buffet we've ever been to.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Oh dang it, I would've loved this experience. Your booth looks GREAT! It has immediate WOW going for it.

Wish I'd been there.

love, love,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

jdmiller said...

Sounds like an awesome show. We had a similar show here in Indiana and it was a total flop! They had lots of good programs running throughout the weekend, but very few vendors and exhibitors and worse yet....very, VERY few visitors. Wish your group would do a show here!!