Pre-conference workshops at 2015 Nevada Small Farm Conference offer insight

SPARKS — The 2015 Nevada Small Farm Conference is the place to be for farmers and ranchers, beginning or experienced, rural or urban, and business and community members.

The conference is  Jan. 22 through 24 at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks and features workshops and conference sessions that include candid discussions about the challenges facing producers.

The four full-day, pre-conference workshops on Jan. 22 offer information on topics including hoop houses, local sources for craft distilleries and breweries, maximizing your visibility with social media, and organic farming.

Many farmers follow organic farming practices, but do not pursue certification. Why not? Some find certification is not integral to marketplace success, while other producers find certification to be a valued tool for their business, their customers and their mission to be socially and biologically responsible for their farmland.

In the “Exploring the Value of Organic Certification” workshop, attendees will examine the value and benefits of certification through stories from farmers. It includes common concerns such as cost, paperwork, perceived erosion of standards and value in certain markets.

In the “Maximize your Visibility with Social Media” workshop, attendees join some of the state’s most experienced digital media professionals in learning how to maximize their business’s social media visibility.

In the morning, participants will learn the basics of social media to determine the best outlets for their business. In the afternoon, speakers will share their social media success stories, and attendees will hear from a panel of local media influencers led by Abbi Whitaker of The Abbi Agency, a Northern Nevada digital engagement firm.

In the “Hoop House Production and Tour” workshop, attendees will learn the newest trends and techniques in hoop house production and season extension. The workshop includes a tour of the hoop houses at the High Desert Farm Initiative in Reno.

As Nevada’s craft brewery and distillery industries continue to grow, they are looking to source local ingredients from hops and grains to herbs, fruit and more. In the “Farm 2 Glass — Sourcing for Local Breweries and Distilleries” workshop, attendees will meet local brewers, distillers, and industry experts, as well as sample local microbrews and spirits.

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