Pre-Conference Events

Get the party started early by attending one of the amazing pre-conference events, from bus tours to a holistic orchard seminar!

Wednesday, January 22

  1. EcoFarm Bus Tour: Organic Farming on the Central Coast

    8:00am – 5:00pm

    The 27th annual EcoFarm Bus Tour promises a diverse and informative farm experience! This all-day field trip will visit three organic farms in the Pajaro Valley near Watsonville and an organic food processor/bakery/café in Monterey County. Long known for the production of high quality cool season crops, this region has cool, foggy summers, sunny springs and falls, and mild wet winters. The tour features a great range of crops suited to the climate and fertile coastal soils.

    Tour stops will include:

    Lonely Mountain Farm where UCSC Farm & Garden alumn Kenny Baker is in his 4th year of growing year round veggies on 6 acres of leased ground, with his sister Dawn Sternadell joining him two years ago. The farm is noted for heirloom dry beans and seasonal veggies and sells at local farmers markets.

    Happy Girl Kitchen Co., Monterey County’s only operating cannery, preserves local organic foods like citrus, pickles, berries, kraut, and tomatoes. Owner Todd Champagne and staff will offer samples of these and other goodies, serve refreshments, and feature his café, community cannery, and bakery concept.

    Live Earth Farm is operated by UCSC Farm & Garden alumni Tom Broz and his wife Constance. They grow more than 50 annual and perennial crops on 75 acres, year round. Their diverse marketing via an 800-member CSA, farmers markets, restaurants, web store, retailers, and wholesalers will be discussed, as well as their vibrant on-farm educational program, now reaching more than 1500 grade school children and at-risk teenagers.

    Prevedelli Farms, started in 1945, produces 80 acres of organic fruit including 36 varieties of apples, 5 pear varieties, numerous cane berry varieties and summer veggies. They sell at 15 farmers markets, restaurants, and retailers and make value-added treats. Third generation farmer Sam Lathrop will host and provide samples of late season fruit and jams.

    Amigo Bob Cantisano of Organic Ag Advisors, Sam Earnshaw of Hedgerows Unlimited, and Richard Smith of UC Cooperative Extension will lead the tour. Lunch will be a hearty natural foods meal prepared by noted chef Jim Denevan, of Outstanding In The Field in Santa Cruz, with many ingredients provided by the bus tour hosts. Morning coffee, tea, and snacks will be provided.

    Price: $70 early registration, $80 regular registration. [Purchase Online with your Credit Card at EZ Payments]

    Includes organic lunch.

    Buses depart from Asilomar at 8:00am. Accommodations are also available at Asilomar on Tuesday, January 21. Don’t wait, the EcoFarm bus tour always sells out early. All aboard!

    Testimonials from previous tour participants:

    “The best farm tour I’ve been on.”

    “Excellent presentations by the growers.”

    “Highly informative and fun.”

    The EcoFarm Bus Tour is approved by the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) for five (5) Continuing Education (CE) hours for Certified Pesticide Applicators (CPA).

    The EcoFarm Bus Tour is approved by the American Society of Agronomy for eight (8) Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for Certified Crop Advisors (CCA).

  1. Holistic Orchard Health Intensive

    with Michael Phillips

    8:30am – 5:00pm

    Holistic orcharding involves a wide breadth of knowledge and timeliness, yet one fact stands clear: we can have beautiful fruit without chemical intervention. Michael’s workshops point the way for organic fruit growers to meet their unique site challenges.

    Fruit tree culture has been stuck in allopathic mode for far too long, solely seeking out short-term fungicides and antibiotics to destroy disease-causing organisms from without. We need to take time to understand that the tree’s own immune ability can be coupled with the stimulation of friendly microbes to defeat disease from within. Looking holistically—at fungal progression and bacterial opportunism in the light of competitive microbes, balanced tree nutrition, and primed immune function—changes everything.

    Growing flavorful, nutrient-dense fruit requires that we invest in a robust biology rather than react to symptoms. This full-day program with orchard health expert Michael Phillips will inspire you to recognize the paramount priorities in your own commercial orchard or community fruit planting. There will be plenty of attention given to raising apples and pears, but Michael will also cover stone fruit such as peaches, cherries, and apricots, and the principles that apply to all orchard fruit and nut crops as well as bush and cane fruits. A panel of fruit growers will be on hand to offer real-life experiences with fruit growing on the West Coast.

    About Michael Phillips

    Michael is a farmer, writer, carpenter, orchard consultant and speaker who lives with his wife and daughter on Heartsong Farm. Lost Nation Orchard is part of the diversified mountain farm in northern New Hampshire. About 300 fruit trees supply a community of shareholders with both dessert and juice fruit. Michael’s book, The Apple Grower: A Guide for the Organic Orchardist, is now available in a newly revised and expanded edition. Michael teamed up with his wife Nancy to write The Herbalist’s Way: The Art and Practice of Healing with Plant Medicines. His most recent book is The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way. Michael also leads the community orchard movement at

    Price: $100 early registration, $110 regular registration.

    Includes organic lunch.

    Visit in November for complete agenda information.

    Sponsored in part by Viva Tierra Organic, Inc. and Chelsea Green Publishing.
    Additional sponsorship opportunities are available. Contact the EFA office at 831-763-2111.

    The Holistic Orchard Health Intensive is approved by the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) for five (5) Continuing Education (CE) hours for Certified Pesticide Applicators (CPA).

    The Holistic Orchard Health Intensive is approved by the American Society of Agronomy for six (6) Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for Certified Crop Advisors (CCA).

  1. The Farm as a Living Organism

    8:00am – 6:30pm

    Presented by the Biodynamic Association

    How do we manage farms and landscapes as living biodiverse organisms? How can biodynamic practices help us restore the health of our soil and the vitality of the food we grow?

    Join the Biodynamic Association for a vibrant full-day event to explore these questions, featuring:

    Four-hour in-depth workshops:

    • Integrating Livestock and Vegetables for Sustained Fertility, Food, and Community with Paula and Adam Gaska
    • The Biodynamic Preparations and Farm-Scale Composting with Lloyd Nelson and Colum Riley
    • Biodynamic Viticulture and Winemaking with Paul Dolan, Barbara Steele and Matt Taylor
    • Biodynamic Principles and the Inner Path of the Farmer with Jim Barausky and Cheryl Mulholland

    Slideshow tours of successful biodynamic farms and vineyards

    World Café conversations

    Afternoon breakouts on Demeter Biodynamic certification and the economics of a small-scale, self-sufficient farm

    Biodynamic bookstore with SteinerBooks

    Price: $120 early registration, $130 regular registration.

    Includes organic lunch, coffee, tea and snacks. Members of the Biodynamic Association receive a 10% discount. Scholarships are available through the Biodynamic Scholarship Fund.

    Sponsored by Organic Valley, RSF Social Finance, Camphill Communities of North America, Hello and Company, the Josephine Porter Institute, Rudolf Steiner College, Veritable Vegetable, Gaia Herbs, Bar Agricole, High Mowing Organic Seeds and Turtle Tree Seed.

    Visit for complete program information.

    The Farm as a Living Organism is approved by the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) for five (5) Continuing Education (CE) hours for Certified Pesticide Applicators (CPA).

    The Farm as a Living Organism is approved by the American Society of Agronomy for seven (7) Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for Certified Crop Advisors (CCA).

  1. Stockmanship: Low-Stress Livestock Handling Seminar

    8:00am – 5:00pm

    Presented by The Whole Picture Consulting, LLC & Sustain Environmental, Inc.

    For the Rancher, Farmer, and Natural Resource Manager: Learn the Key to Successful Livestock Management.

    Be on the leading edge of livestock and land management with this introductory workshop of Stockmanship & Low-Stress Livestock Handling Basics. Join instructors Richard McConnell and Tina Williams of Hand ‘n Hand Livestock Solutions; Whit Hibbard, Editor/Publisher of the Stockmanship Journal; Kent Reeves of The Whole Picture Consulting, and a panel of Stockmanship practitioners to learn how to be successful through low-stress livestock management.

    Seminar Includes:

    • History & The Case for Low-Stress Livestock Handling
    • What is the Economic, Social, & Environmental Value of Stockmanship
    • What are the Advantages to the Handler and to the Livestock
    • Understanding Natural Instincts of Livestock and Communicating with Them
    • Predator/Prey Relationships (Our Instincts)
    • Herd Training & Management (Sorting, Loading, Receiving & Weaning)
    • Our Attitude as We Deal with Livestock and Why Animals are Never Wrong
    • Panel Discussion with Instructors and Practitioners

    Price: $165 early registration, $175 regular registration.

    Includes organic lunch.

    Sponsored by Paicines Ranch and TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation.

    Stockmanship – Low-Stress Livestock Livestock Handling is approved by the Society for Range Management for eight (8) Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for Certified Professionals in Rangeland Management (CPRM).

  1. Creating a Sustainable Flock of Poultry

    8:00am – 5:30pm

    Presented by Jim Adkins, Sustainable Poultry Specialist & other qualified instructors from the Sustainable Poultry Network.

    This day-long, complete workshop (from the egg to the table), is for those who desire to have their very own sustainable flock of standard bred poultry. We will cover everything you need to know to raise your own flock! You will learn how to properly identify heritage poultry breeds; how to secure and purchase baby chicks; brooding principles, basic husbandry, and disease control. You will be introduced to breeding and learn the art of reproduction so that you no longer need to be dependent on an outside resource for your baby chicks/poults. The workshop will include the facts about feeds and feeding. And finally, you will also receive a profitable business plan that will guide you toward a sustainable income.


    • Evolution of poultry genetics and opportunities to breed your own stock.
    • Differences between the breeds and how to find the right one for you.
    • The art of both natural and artificial incubation. Hatching your own birds.
    • Techniques and skills of brooding and growing poultry.
    • The art of culling and selecting birds for meat and egg production.
    • Laws and regulations of processing poultry and selling eggs in your local area.
    • Ten secrets of marketing and how you can profit from your small poultry enterprise.

    Price: $100 early registration, $110 regular registration.

    Includes organic lunch.