Keep Farming First symposium set for March 12

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Chester County 2020 presents the 9th annual symposium of Keep Farming First on March 12, 2011 at the Octorara Middle School.  Keep Farming First is a regional conference of farmers and farming advocates, gathering to access a wide variety of information on relevant agricultural issues; to connect with current resources and decision-makers; to interact with each other in a relaxed but purposeful setting. The day-long event presents speakers, interactive group sessions, and relevant panel discussions.

Michael Pechart, Pennsylvania Deputy Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing, Community Development, and Administration will be the Keep Farming First keynote speaker.  Breakout sessions will include “basic” and “advanced” discussions for those interested in CSAs, Farm Markets, and Value-Added marketing.   Additional topics include information on Lyme disease, stinkbugs, alternative energy, and much more.  Throughout the day, expert panels will feature presentations on watershed issues, hunger, and sources for new farmers.   The bluegrass group Blue Dot Ramblers will provide entertainment  and area artists who work in farm, rural and environmental themes will be displaying their work.  There is something for everyone.

Keep Farming First is supported by generous sponsors, and registration fees. The standard fee is $25 per person for the day. Registration includes giveaway ball caps or reusable shopping bags, light breakfast, and lunch.  Century and Bi-Centennial Farmers may attend for free.  Active Future Farmers of America students are also free and each FFA student may register a parent at half price. There are discounts available for group pre-registrations. For further details and online registration, go to www.cc2020.org or contact William Stevens at 484-680-5570.

Keep Farming First is held in Octorara, amid Chester County’s biggest concentration of preserved agricultural land. Agricultural land is beautiful to look at; it uses less in services than it pays in taxes, and produces food. But for agricultural land to work, someone needs to work the land, and farming is not easy.  The thrust of the Keep Farming First program is to make it more feasible for farmers to stay in business.  A day at Keep Farming First puts a farmer in the same room with relevant experts and resources.  Farmers’ relationships with their surrounding communities offer challenges, and chances to increase profits.  But Keep Farming First is not just for farmers – the issues of sustainable local food supply, energy conservation, hunger, and the benefits of coming face-to-face with an important segment of our shared community make KFF a day for everyone.  We’re all stakeholders in our region’s agriculture, together.

Chester County 2020 is a nonprofit organization that works “to create livable communities by bringing people together to find common ground and then working to transform dialogue into action.”  For more information about Keep Farming First and other Chester County 2020 programs, visit www.cc2020.org.

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