John Mesko is the Executive Director at Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Services (MOSES). He recently spoke to us about the upcoming MOSES Conference, the largest organic farming conference in North America, held in LaCrosse, WI on February 22-24. The deadline for online registration is today, February 8th.
John Mesko is the Executive Director at Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Services
OPN Connect: The MOSES Conference is the largest event in the U.S. that addresses organic and sustainable farming. What is the purpose and mission of this conference?
Our organization’s purpose is to educate and inspire farmers & train them to start and grow organic farming business.
The conference itself is the keynote of our work. We build the entire event around opportunities to be inspired, encouraged and educated. It’s a place to exchange ideas and network with old and new connections and expand the farming community.
This is the place to get the tools and information on technique or practices. It’s a place to make connections with service providers. It provides the opportunity to share what you have with your compadres in the organic community.
We provide a number of opportunities around networking. We have several round-table discussions set up on a number of different topics, and some are developed on the fly.
We have a kick off on Thursday evening where you can come in and get charged up, figure out what you want to accomplish and then hear the story from the MOSES Organic Farmer of The Year. It’s where our community comes together.
We like to think that is not just pouring information into your brain but that we are building a community.
OPN Connect: This is the 29th year for the Conference. How many attendees do you expect this year and what are they in store for?
We usually have between 3000 -3500 attendees each year, it always depends on weather. But we do expect that same attendance this year.
Folks are in store for a lot! Chris Blanchard will be speaking about Farm Life Balance, which is a huge consideration–especially for beginning farmers. We sometimes see people really digging in and then burning out. We need young people to start and to STAY in organic farming. Let’s figure out how to engage them in their career path for the long haul!
There will be a number of sessions related to farm business management, organic certification, soil health, organic grass fed beef production.
OPN Connect: Who should consider attending this year’s conference? Is it only for farmers?
We want to welcome the entire community! Consumers are a big part of the community and our strongest advocated are consumers. It’s important for farmers to see their interest and learn from each other.
There are always a number of non-profits and organizations in attendance as well as government agencies available for sharing information on grants and loans available.
OPN Connect: Is it too late to think about attending?
The deadline for online registration is today, February 8th. Welcome onsite registration up until the date of the conference which is February 23rd. Come on out to Wisconsin! We also accept registration at the door.
OPN Connect: Once registered, how can one best be prepared?
First of all call a friend and bring them with you. Look at the sessions you want to attend because some will fill up early. Then show up early and make full use of the networking opportunities. Come prepared to meet new folks and see old friends.
Anything else you want to share?
The organic farming community is changing- folks who haven’t been to the conference in a while should check back and be in touch with the organic farming community. Make your voice heard at the networking. We are looking to grow the community and having a diverse audience is the key!