Urban Farming Conference

  Urban Farming Conference

“Cultivating Lands, Nourishing Communities, Building Businesses”

 Saturday, March 9, 2013     8:30 am – 3:30 pm

Roxbury Community College  Media Arts Building

 Roxbury Crossing  Boston, MA

$25 Buy
Wait list/Registration

Presented by

City Growers  and  Urban Farming Institute of Boston

In Partnership with

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR)

The annual Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference (UFC) is designed to advance the opportunities and address the barriers involved in cultivating a thriving urban farming sector. The UFC is a forum to share information regarding what is currently happening in Boston and other local urban communities and to map out a vision for urban farming in Massachusetts. Boston and other local urban communities in Massachusetts have the potential to offer a fresh, local healthy food supply while promoting economic and environmental sustainability, as well as healthy communities, employment at livable wages, food security, youth engagement and more.

The UFC brings together participants representing all aspects of urban farming including, but not limited to, farmers (including roof top, chicken, bees, etc.), commercial buyers, policy makers, investors and all others. The UFC conference is being convened to foster solutions, sustainable networks and business relationships. This will be achieved with interactive panels and roundtable discussions on diverse and relevant topics with distinguished Conversation Leaders and a networking reception. The UFC is designed to:

  • Introduce the Urban Farming Institute of Boston’s mission and goals
  • Report on current urban farming issues and projects
  • Address infrastructure gaps in the urban farming industry
  • Serve as a resource on cutting edge models for healthy, sustainable practices and more
  • Serve as a means to educate community leaders, foundations, investors, city, state and federal  agencies on the necessity and value in investing in urban farming.
All panels are interactive discussions.

8:00 am – 8:30 am                   Registration Opens and Continental Breakfast

8:30 am – 9:15 am                  Welcome Ceremony


Crystal Johnson, Senior Environmental Planner/Strategist, ISES

Glynn LloydCo-Founder, City Growers and Founder and CEO, City Fresh Foods

Klare Shaw, President, Urban Farming Institute Board of Directors

Margaret Connors, Co-Founder, City Growers

Gregory C. Watson, Commissioner, MA Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR)

Morning Ceremony Keynote Speaker:

Eliot Coleman, Organic Farmer, Four Season Farm 

9:15 am – 9:30 am                   Networking Break

9:30 am – 10:30 am                 Session I


Panel 1. Open Field Farming Techniques 

The movement towards small scale farming in urban centers brings many benefits, such as improving access to healthy food and revitalizing neighborhoods. For farmers, it brings unique challenges that will be addressed by our round table participants. Our panel will share from their experience on what it takes to have a viable operation in a city setting sharing their production methods and how they address environmental concerns such as soil prep, water use and structural constraints.

Conversation Leaders:

Greg Maslow, Farmer, Newton Community Farm (Moderator)

Greg Bodine, Farm Managers, City Growers

Bobby Walker, Farm Manager, City Growers

Ethan Grundberg, Farm Manager, Allandale Farm

Danielle Andrews, Dudley Greenhouse Manager, The Food Project


Panel 2. Organic Farming Techniques and Season Extension Technologies

With consumers growing interest in organic and local products, more people are looking to their local farms for products that are not only fresh, but readily available and organic.  With the challenges of the Massachusetts growing season, many farmers are finding solutions to extend their growing capacity to meet these needs. Hear from our panel of experts on the interest of organics and how their creative solutions for season extension can be applied to urban farming.

Conversation Leaders:

Ruth Hazard, Vegetable Entomologist, UMass Extension Vegetable Program (Moderator)           

Jessie Banhazl, Founder & CEO, Green City Growers

Jolie Olivetti, Farm Manager, Victory Programs Inc. – ReVision Urban Farm

Eliot Coleman, Organic Farmer, Four Season Farm 

Patti Moreno, Garden Girl, Garden Girl TV


Panel 3.  Lessons from Different Market Strategies

Building a successful urban farming business takes a creative and diverse plan to not only meet local consumer needs, but to be viable enterprise as well.  Today you will hear from leaders that represent different market opportunities: from restaurant to institutional.  This panel will discuss sales strategy and market analysis, helping you to create a strategy to meet the growing demand for local products.  Where will you sell a majority of your products? Are farmers’ markets or CSA’s the most viable routes for your business? Will social media and advertising play a role in the growth of your business? How can buyers and growers work strategically together?

Conversation Leaders:

Jamey Lionette, Sales Director, City Growers (Moderator)

Kelly  Erwin, Project Director, Massachusetts Farm to School Project

David Warner, President and Co-Founder, City Feed and Supply Inc.

Michael Leviton, Owner and Chef, Lumiere Restaurant  

10:30 am – 10:45 am                 Networking Break

10:45 am – 11:45 am                 Session II


Panel 4. Composting: Policy, Practice and Viable Business Enterprise

A critical component for farming is healthy, nutrient-dense soil and in an urban setting, the complexities and opportunities that arise are abundant.  Due to the reality of pollution in all cities, the safest alternative to existing soil is compost.  Generating enough compost to meet the needs of urban farmers and gardeners will take a multi-tiered system, one that will engage policy makers and entrepreneurs alike.  What are the zoning restrictions? What are the resources that can be utilized to make large volumes of compost? How do communities capitalize on this economic opportunity? Join this conversation to learn more from seasoned professionals.

Conversation Leaders:

Betsy Johnson, Massachusetts Food Policy Alliance (Moderator)

Gerard Kennedy, Director of Technical Assistance, MDAR

Bruce Fulford, Owner and Principal, City Soil & Greenhouse

Greg MurphyNew England Sales Rep, Sun State Organics

Andy Brooks, Founder, Bootstrap Composting

Adam Mitchell, Partner, Save That Stuff, Inc.


Panel 5. Roof Top Techniques

The benefits of roof top farming in an urban setting make it an attractive alternative when ground-level space is scarce, utilizing and beautifying space in a community for growing fresh produce. The possibilities abound for roof top gardening and our speakers will engage you with their vision and share best practices. Year round growing, hydroponics, vertical and container gardening are just some of the methods to be discussed. How can your model be fiscally and operationally sound? What do you need to consider for future expansion? What environmental issues are unique to roof-top gardening?

Conversation Leaders:

Mark Winterer, Co-Founder/Director of Operations, Recover Green Roofs (Moderator)

Mohamed Hage, Founder, Lufa Farms

Robert N. Fireman, CEO, Sky Vegetables, Inc.

John Stoddard, Founding Farmer, Higher Ground Farm


Panel 6. Food System Investors Meeting

Meeting the growing demand for healthy, fresh produce will take partnerships across many sectors. Addressing the financial impact will take a strategic and comprehensive approach by our financial institutions that recognize the need for and are committed to strengthening our diverse food system. Today you can participate in this conversation with leaders of several institutions that are committed to engaging in a MA food systems planning process.  What are the conventional and creative vehicles needed to move capital into this new urban farming sector?

Conversation Leaders:

Gus Schumacher, Co-Founder and Executive VP of Policy, Wholesome Wave (Moderator)

Jo Anne Shatkin, CEO, Conservation Law Foundation Ventures

Thai Ha-Ngoc, Program Analyst, Henry P. Kendall Foundation

Eric BodzinskiFarm Loan Manager, USDA Farm Service Agency 

11:45 am – 1:00 pm                  Lunch


Gregory Bialecki, Secretary, MA Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development


Urban Farming Thought Leaders: A Discussion

Massachusetts has the building blocks to be one of the most active, equitable and sustainable urban farming models in the nation. Join this roundtable discussion which brings together leaders from government, community, business and the nonprofit foundation sectors to discuss their vital roles, visions and how they can work together to cultivate a thriving urban farming sector.

Conversation Leaders:

Crystal Johnson, Senior Environmental Planner/Strategist, ISES (Moderator)

Gregory C. Watson, Commissioner, MA Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR)

Mel King, Social Activist/Community Organizer and Adjunct Professor, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT

Glynn LloydCo-Founder, City Growers and Founder and CEO, City Fresh Foods

Greg Horner, Senior Program Officer, Cedar Tree Foundation

1:15 pm – 2:15 pm                   Session III


Panel 7. Land: Strategy, Community Control, Zoning and Policy

Scaling up the urban farming movement in MA brings with it the promise of transformed vacant spaces and improving neighborhood conditions, it also presents challenges for producers.  Land insecurity issues, high infrastructure costs and outdated zoning policies need to be addresses to support urban farming.Join community advocates and local officials in this discussion on the need for agriculture-friendly zoning policies. What are the processes that need to take place to encourage collaboration with community members and urban farmers? How can policy change protect urban farmers from redevelopment and also encourage them to invest in their farming business?

Conversation Leaders:

Barbara Knecht, Urban Farming Institute of Boston (Moderator) 

Bette Toney, Tommy’s Rock Neighborhood Organization

Jessica Burgess, Legal Counsel, MDAR

John (Tad) Read, Senior Planner/Project Manager, Boston Redevelopment Authority


Panel 8. Viable Enterprises Other Than Fruits and Vegetables

A growing number of local restaurants and markets are actively sourcing locally grown products. Is expanding into a value-added business the opportunity you desire to capitalize on? Our Conversation Leaders will help guide entrepreneurs to assess your enterprise’s viability for long term success. A business planning process will involve determining your operation’s strengths and weaknesses and an exploration of your goals. What are the next best locally produced products that have viability? What tools will you need to explore your idea? Where can you obtain technical assistance? What are some key considerations regarding financing? What does expansion look like? What are the best ways to get my products to market? Join in this conversation to understand more about the process and opportunities available to help you grow a value added enterprise.

Conversation Leaders:

Margaret Connors, Co-Founder, City Growers (Moderator)

Jen Faigel, Consultant, Pearl Food Production Small Business Center

Kyle Sturgeon, Education Director at Boston Architectural College and Co-Founder of The Productive Collective

Tonya Johnson, Owner, The Ancient Bakers, Inc.


Panel 9. Youth and Urban Farming

Massachusetts youth are the key to leading the way to transforming empty urban land into farms and community growing spaces. Hear from our panel of youth leaders on the work they’ve done to reshape urban spaces. What are the visions and priorities of youth leaders in the urban farming movement?  How do they manage the various resistance they encounter? Where do they see their futures within the urban food movement? How can more youth be engaged in this work?

 Conversation Leaders: 

Dave Madan, Board of Directors, Urban Farming Institute and Founder and Executive Director, theMOVE (Moderator)

Hakim Sutherland, Chairperson, Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE)/Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project’s Grow or Die Campaign

Wil Bullock, Farm Educator, The Trustee of Reservations

Selvin Chambers, Executive Director, The Food Project

Kenny Lopez, Youth Leader, The Food Project

Shanelle Villegas, Youth Grower, United Neighbors of Lower Roxbury 

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm                   Closing Ceremony


Closing Ceremony Keynote Speaker

Malik Yakini, Executive Director, Detroit Black Community Food Security Keynote Theme: “Urban Farming Lessons from Detroit”

Urban Farming Lifetime Achievement Award


Session Reporting and Next Steps

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