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Snohomish County farming conference set for Nov. 20

Farmers from around Puget Sound will gather for Snohomish County’s Focus on Farming conference when special guests from around the country will talk about “breaking new ground” in farming practices, food and fuel trends.

The keynote speaker, University of Washington professor David Montgomery is author of “Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations,” and recent winner of a 2008 MacArthur Fellowship.

“He’ll talk about why our soil just might be our most valuable resource, particularly when it comes to food and farming — relevant to urban farmers and gardeners, and anyone who cares about the nutritional content of their food,” said Laura McLeod, an organizer of the event, noting that National Geographic recently did a big feature on worldwide soil health.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture is completing a Future of Farming study and its director, Bob Gore, will share some of the findings with the 500 expected conference attendees, McLeod added.

“He will offer findings that address the economics of farming and what it means to the farmers and the state’s economic viability and vitality.

This information may have an impact on availability and cost of local food for Washington residents. Both speakers will offer information that is relevant to anyone who cares about healthy, local food.

“Food, particularly how and where it’s grown, is a subject we can all use more knowledge about in order to make the best choices for our own - and the planet’s — well being. Both speakers are exceptionally well informed about their subjects, able to communicate in lay-person terms, and are genuinely interesting to interview,” McLeod said.

“I recently heard David speak at a recent Groundswell Northwest event and his widespread appeal was evident,” she added.

The conference is not only open to farmers, but to anyone interested in local food, from those who shop at farmers’ markets to those who grow their own food at home.

In addition to the keynotes, the conference features 24 different workshop sessions, ranging from the benefits of grassfed beef and integrated pest management to an update about the Snohomish County canola dryer which is expected to fuel Snohomish County fleet vehicles.

For more information see the Web site at www.focusonfarming.org.

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