Published Nov 21, 2018

Registration is open for Practical Farmers’ 2019 annual conference

By Tamsyn Jones


Tamsyn Jones | Outreach & Publications Coordinator | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |

AMES, Iowa — Registration is now open for Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2019 annual conference, “Cultivating Connections,” which will take place Jan. 17-19 at the Iowa State Center Scheman Building, on the Iowa State University campus in Ames. All are welcome. Full details are at our annual conference webpage.

This year’s theme draws attention to the many connections, both large and small, that are vital for farms, communities, rural economies and natural ecosystems to thrive – from individuals connecting to share knowledge, to the microscopic links between plants and soil organisms that have visible effects on crop and landscape health.

Attendees will hear practical insights from their farming peers and other experts about everything from using cover crops to control weeds in field crops to niche pork production, biodynamic farming to profitably marketing meat, growing winter small grains to farm transition, eggplant production to adding prairie habitat, cultivating civility to organic dairying, rural mental health to regenerative grazing – and much more.

The conference attracted over 1,000 farmers, researchers and supporters last year. Conference highlights include:

  • A keynote address by farmer and author Michael Phillips, who raises apples and medicinal herbs with his wife, Nancy, at Heartsong Farm Healing Herbs and Lost Nation Orchard in New Hampshire. Michael helped found the community orchard movement, and is renowned for helping people grow healthy fruit using herbal protocols. With Nancy, he co-authored “The Herbalist’s Way,” and he is author of “The Apple Grower,” “The Holistic Orchard” and, most recently, “Mycorrhizal Planet: How Fungi and Plants Work Together to Create Dynamic Soils.”

In his keynote – “Soil Redemption Song” – Michael will take a deep dive into the microscopic communities beneath our feet and crops. He will help listeners understand the vital link between mycorrhizal fungi and crop health, and explain how this fungal network can help foster resilience in ecosystems.

  • Sixty sessions on topics that span the agricultural spectrum. Some sessions are planned specifically for landowners, non-farmers and beginning farmers.
  • Two pre-conference short course options: “Silvopasture” and “Orcharding.” Both courses run Thursday, Jan. 17 from 1-6:30 p.m. and continue Friday, Jan. 18 from 8-11:30 a.m., at the Scheman Building.
  • Certified crop advisor credits for 36 sessions and both short courses.
  • Many opportunities to network and build relationships with other farmers, researchers, consumers and sponsors – including during the free breakfast served on Saturday morning.
  • Presentation of PFI’s 2018 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award

Registration: Walk-in registration is allowed, but those who pre-register by Jan. 10 will save $10 per day. Special rates are also available for students and PFI members. Register online, or contact Debra Boekholder at or (515) 232-5661.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2019 annual conference is supported by several major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Clarity Financial Planning; Clif Bar & Co.; Grain Millers; Hall Roberts’ Son, Inc.; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy and Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Natural Resources Defense Council; and Niman Ranch.


Practical Farmers of Iowa strengthens farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Our values include: welcoming everyone; creativity, collaboration and community; viable farms now and for future generations; and stewardship and ecology. Founded in 1985, farmers in our network raise corn, soybeans, livestock, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. To learn more, visit

View full conference details