CORVALLIS, Ore. - The 15th annual Oregon Small Farms Conference, which drew 800 people last year, takes place Feb. 28 at Oregon State University.

The event, one of the flagship educational offerings of OSU Extension Service's Small Farms Program, is geared toward farmers, agriculture professionals, food policy advocates, students, restaurant owners, food retailers and managers of farmers markets. Over the years, participants have learned how to harvest rainwater, market meat products, develop a business plan, sell products to schools, graft vegetables and lease land.

This year, presenters will include farmers, OSU faculty and representatives of agribusiness and government agencies. Five of the speakers, including Jean-Martin Fortier, will conduct full-day sessions.

Fortier founded the organic farm Jardins de la Grelinette near Quebec, which is recognized internationally for its high productivity and profitability using low-tech, high-yield methods of production. A graduate of the McGill School of Environment in Montreal, Fortier is a passionate advocate for strengthening local food systems and has facilitated more than 50 workshops and conferences in Canada, France, Belgium and the United States promoting the idea of micro-scale farming. His session covers Six Figure Farming for Small Plots.

In addition, the Oregon Small Farms Conference will feature 24 workshops, including three in Spanish, on topics that include:

  • Healthier animals, healthier profits;
  • Diversification of orchards and markets;
  • Climate change and perennial fruit and nut production;
  • Marketing farmers markets;
  • Crunching numbers to determine greenhouse costs;
  • Exploring the small farm dream;
  • Advanced plant disease management on organic vegetable farms;
  • New grant opportunities for farmers markets;
  • Impacts of organic certification.

The cost, which includes lunch, is $65 per person or $100 at the door. Registration is open until midnight on Feb. 18. The conference will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the LaSells Stewart Center. To register, go to the Small Farms Conference website.

OSU will host a free screening of the documentary "Dryland" at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27 at the conference center.

An after-conference hootenanny with dinner, local beer and cider, and dancing to live music will start at 5 p.m. Tickets are $15 through Feb. 15, and then $20.

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Chrissy Lucas, 541-766-3556