Conference for farmers in Lincoln

By: Carol Feineman, editor
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Know and Go: What: 15th annual PlacerGROWN Food and Farm Conference When: 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday Where: Lincoln High School, 790 J St. Admission: $60 for PlacerGROWN members, $65 for nonmembers. Includes lunch. Info: (530) 889-7385 or Presented by: PlacerGROWN, UC Cooperative Extension, and the Placer County Agricultural Marketing Program. Expect to learn a lesson Saturday at Lincoln High School that anyone can produce enough of the daily vegetable requirements and some of the fruit requirements for four familes in a typical Lincoln quarter-acre backyard. That lesson won’t be taught by the school’s ag teachers Saturday but by Lynn Miller, keynote speaker at the 15th annual PlacerGROWN Food & Farm Conference taking place at the school from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Miller, an Oregon farmer, founded the Small Farmer’s Journal 34 years ago and co-founded the Small Farms Conservancy two years ago to protect, sustain and inspire small-farming worldwide. Anybody in the Lincoln area can grow food, according to Miller on Tuesday. That’s why he hopes residents show up to the annual conference that will feature a variety of topics, from what crops to grow, farm business planning, challenges to farmers, cooking demonstrations on the soon-to-be-published “Placer County Real Food Cookbook,” internship opportunities, liability insurance needs and how to shop for local products. “The landscape is changing with the economy and there are new opportunties and challenges for farmers who are working to provide alternatives and help to grow local self alliance,” Miller said. It’s also up to the consumer, Miller pointed out to be aware of what local farmers are selling. “When a local family buys fruits, vegetables and meat from local farmers, they’re not only supporting the local economy but helping the larger economy and environment,” Miller explained. “When we buy food that has been trucked in from a great distance, we’re paying for that carbon footprint and we’re supporting an infrastructure that sends money away. But when money is kept locally, everyone benefits plus you’re reducing carbon emissions on a global scale.” Miller also hopes Saturday’s attendees understand that the number of farmers in the United States “needs to be quadrupled.” In his opinion, less food is being produced in the United States and Americans are relying more on food being imported from Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, China and Canada. “Less than two percent of our American population is involved in agriculture. We need more farmers and ranchers,” said Roger Ingram, the UC-Cooperative Extension county director and livestock farm advisor. The extension is cosponsoring Saturday’s workshop. As of Wednesday, 210 farmers and interested community members signed up. Other speakers at the workshop include Dixie Chan of Dixie Chan Tax Service, discussing tax return, record keeping, and filling out Schedule F, depreciation rules, definition of income and expense, and hobby loss rules; and Paul Johnson and Cynthia Elkins, Placer West Insurance Services, discussing farm liability. Kendra Johnson, California FarmLink, will discuss development of a business plan. Ingram will talk about determining profit and the three key profitability indicators. The Lincoln Future Farmers of America are preparing a lunch of locally grown meats and produce. Those signing up at the door might not get lunch, Ingram added.