Be a Part of the Future of Food at The MOA Conference in February

By Crystal Stevens

The Missouri Organic Association (MOA), a non-profit all volunteer organization, is gearing up for its 6th Annual Conference on February 5th, 6th and 7th at the University Plaza Hotel and Conference Center, Springfield MO. Participants are comprised of farmers, ranchers, scientists, health officials, and consumers who want to learn more about the foods they produce and eat.
Sue Baird, Executive Director of the MOA welcomes everyone to attend. “This conference is not just for farmers and producers… Anyone concerned about independent food sources, the rising health issues in our children, supporting sustainable family farms, environmental issues and solution-based philosophies of biological and organic growing practices will have something to gain from this conference,” Baird says. The Missouri Organic Association was just named in the 2014 Good Food Org Guide presented by Food Tank and The James Beard Foundation. According to Food Tank, The Good Food Org Guide is a definitive Guide which highlights nonprofit organizations that are doing exemplary work in the United States in the areas of food and agriculture, nutrition and health, hunger and obesity, and food justice.

Baird has been involved with the organization for 15 years and has served as the Executive Director for the past 5 years. Under her leadership, the MOA has been a conduit for educating thousands throughout the region on food related topics, and growing and producing organic, natural and sustainably produced crops. Baird says, “The mission of the MOA will always be to provide local, organic and sustainable family farms with the tools they need to run successful farming businesses; and secondly to educate the general public about why they should support local farmers.”

The MOA Conference will consist of over 54 Hands-on Workshops focused on organic and sustainable production including: Grain production, Livestock production, Vegetable production, High-tunnel small fruits and vegetable production, Sustainable living skills, Culinary and medicinal plants, and a whole lot more! Some of the nation’s leading experts on GMO’s will be presenting during the GMO Plenary: Dr. Don Huber, “GMO’s and Glysophates Effects on our soil and health” and Robyn O’Brien, “A Call to Action- Our Future, Our Health”; Jim Gerriten, “The Effects of GMOs on the family farms”; and Edwin J. Blosser will be discussing the “Spiritual Truths about GMOs”

St. Louis area speakers include Mark Brown of the Gateway Garlic Farm and representatives from EarthDance Farm. I will be presenting along with my husband, Eric Stevens, of La Vista Farm. Mark Brown will be teaching the workshop entitled, “Garlic for Health and Wealth on the Farm”; EarthDance Farm will be discussing “Propagation and Production of PawPaws”; and my husband and I will be co-teaching, “Growing and Using Medicinal Herbs,” along with individually teaching “Vermiculture 101”, “Fermentation 101”, and “DIY Natural Household Cleaners”.

What’s included in a 3 day pass?
Thursday includes choice of educational sessions. Thursday evening includes the MOA Expo 2015 Grand Opening as well as a “Savor the Flavor” Reception Dinner in which attendees are invited to taste the flavors of MOA Farmers, Retailers, Microbreweries and Wineries. Thursday also includes the MOA Live Benefit Auction to help fund the MOA Conference.

Friday includes choice of educational sessions as well as the GMO Plenary with Robyn O’Brien and Food Policy Workshop.
Friday Evening attendees will enjoy the MOA Cochon15 & MOA Top Chef Challenge, featuring St. Louis Chef- Josh Galliano of The Libertine and Springfield Chef- Wes Johnson of Metropolitan Farmer butchering pasture based hogs. The MOA Top Chef Challenge 2015 will feature St. Louis Chefs- Rex Hale (The Cheshire) and Wil Pelly of In Good Company & Sanctuaria. Also featured in the lineup will be Kansas City Chef- Michael Foust of The Farmhouse, Springfield Chef – Paul Trout of Chateau on the Lake as well as Columbia Chef- Walker Claridge of Broadway Brewery. Other chefs may be added as they express interest.

Friday evening includes a Banquet Dinner of local organic and sustainably produced foods. Following dinner, attendees may choose between a screening of GMO OMG, or Live Music and Dancing with Dallas Jones.

Saturday includes brunch with keynote speaker Joseph Simcox, “The Botanical Explorer” of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds as well as a choice of educational sessions.

The conference price is $195 for all three days and a single day pass is $95. To Register: http://www.moaconference.org/moa-conference-registration. Hotel reservations are available at a special MOA Conference block price of $79(+tax) per night at The University Plaza Hotel, Springfield, MO. Be sure to mention the MOA conference block. Volunteers are needed. Volunteers receive $50 off the registration cost.

For more information, visit www.MOAConference.org.