2013 Keynote Program

Atina Diffley
Friday, August. 9, 7:30pm

Atina Diffley is an organic farmer and consultant (Organic Farming Works LLC), public speaker, and author of the 2012 memoir, Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works. From 1985 to 2008, she and her husband Martin ran the Gardens of Eagan, an urban-edge, organic vegetable farm, which he started in 1973. She is the co-author and lead trainer for Wholesale Success: A Farmers Guide to Selling, Postharvest Handling and Packing Produce. For reflections, tips and decision-making tools subscribe to her on-line blog, What Is A Farm.

Land use issues have been a central point of entry for Atina's organic advocacy. In 1989, the 5th-generation Diffley family land was lost to suburban development. The Diffleys collaborated with filmmaker Helen DeMichiel to create the award-winning documentary, Turn Here Sweet Corn: The video. Filmed on the Diffley land in Eagan and in the surrounding community, the video focuses on the loss of greenbelt farmlands to suburbia. The Diffleys started over on new land, but faced eminent domain again in 2006 when threatened by a crude oil pipeline owned by notorious polluters, Koch Industries. The Diffleys intervened as legal parties in the route proceeding and with the help of over 4,500 letter writing customers, attorney Paula Maccabee, expert witnesses, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, succeeded in creating an Organic Mitigation Plan that provides protections for the soil and certification of threatened organic farms in Minnesota.

Debate: "Is organic certification right for you?"
Saturday, August 10, 7:00 pm

Increasingly, young people are going into local farming without getting certified organic. Is "local" supplanting "organic"? Is this a good thing? Can the organic movement survive without new blood? Is there a special enduring value to organic certification? Has it strayed from its original goals? Saturday night two active certified farmers, and two uncertified farmers who use organic methods, will debate the question: "Is organic certification right for you?"


  1. Jack Kittredge co-owns a certified organic farm in Barre, MA. He is editor of NOFA's interstate journal, The Natural Farmer, and policy director for NOFA/Mass. He asks whether the idealism that fueled the organic movement is still at work today, and if so, where it feels most at home.

"Con" Side

  1. Mark Dunau makes his living growing vegetables in Hancock, New York. In 2003, he co-authored "The Farmer's Pledge", which NOFA-NY offers to farmers as a one page testament of a farmer's sustainable growing practices. He argues that knowing your farmer is the best assurance that food is responsibly grown.
  2. Justine Denison: Manages and co-owns a Certified Naturally Grown farm in Schaghticoke, NY, which serves a 500-member CSA, two farmers' markets, and several wholesale accounts. Though she adheres to organic farming practices, she raises questions about the muddied definition of "organic" when farmers like herself choose not to become USDA certified.

"Pro" Side

  1. Atina Diffley, author of Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works, found certification proves crucial in legal cases when she successfully fought eminent domain by notorious polluters, Koch Industries. She contends certification protects farms during drift cases, insured losses, and from "local-washing," and supports change by providing the USDA with quantifiable numbers.
  2. Ryan Voiland owns a certified organic farm in Western Massachusetts that grows 100 acres of produce crops. He maintains certification helps provide assurance to wholesale and retail customers that the farm maintains the utmost integrity in providing safe food that is grown to a high ecological standard.

For Non-Conference Registrants

If you are not registered for the day of the conference when a keynote program is taking place, you can still attend the program by coming to the Campus Center Auditorium and paying a $15 admission fee at the door.

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