The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the fragility of our global food chain. It also demonstrated the remarkable resilience of local food systems as they adapted rapidly to meet changing needs. The 2021 OEFFA conference, Our Time: Essential Links for a Strong Food Chain, puts a spotlight on the historical moment in which we find ourselves. The possibilities are exciting, inspiring, and provocative. Through our keynote speakers, workshops, and networking opportunities, we will celebrate how we are building a more robust food system, identify challenges, and propose solutions.
As another sign of the time, the conference will be held online. The conference promises to be interactive and social, while still delivering the educational quality and resource-rich event you’ve come to expect. We know this brave new technological world can be daunting for some, so we are working to make it easy for people at all skill levels to attend.
Conference is the gift we give ourselves, and the nourishment of our gathering grows from all of us working together and co-creating a community so inspiring and resilient that it cannot help but flourish regardless of the obstacles before it. We’re committed to making this the best OEFFA conference yet! Who’s in?
Please save the dates for OEFFA’s 42nd annual conference and watch this page for more information coming soon. Details will be added as the big event comes together!
General Conference Schedule
OEFFA’s first virtual conference will have a unique schedule designed for you to experience the event as a cohesive community gathering, while also attending to your daily life.
Workshop sessions will run for four days with long breaks in between sessions so you can get your chores done, take screen breaks, and still access lots of great content. If you cannot take off work, missed a session because your cows got out, or you had to deal with a toddler naptime, you will have full access to the recorded webinars through the online portal.
Keynote speakers will present in the evenings. Special exhibit hall times where you can engage with exhibitors will be scattered throughout the event, with the additional option of scheduling private conversations with exhibitors. We also hope to offer some children’s programming at times convenient for families, and other special opportunities, such as cooking at home under the instruction of a professional chef. In-depth Food and Farm School sessions and an “encore” day to meet up with others and share conference highlights will round out this six day event.
We are working on an exciting slate of speakers and creative ways to make the virtual conference a special experience all its own, while still feeling like OEFFA. Watch for more information about the conference schedule this fall!
Will Harris is a fourth-generation cattleman at White Oak Pastures, recognized as a leader in humane animal husbandry and environmental sustainability.
White Oak Pastures is a 154-year-old family farm in Bluffton, Georgia raising chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, guineas, hogs, rabbits, cattle, goats, sheep, and laying hens, along with certified organic vegetables. The farm is Certified Non-GMO, Certified Grassfed, Certified Humane, Certified EOV, and rated Step 4 in the Global Animal Partnership.
White Oak Pastures is committed to regenerative land management, humane animal husbandry, multi-species rotational grazing, and revitalizing their local community. Their zero-waste production system utilizes each part of the animals that they pasture-raise and hand-butcher on farm. The farm built processing abattoirs to allow them to vertically integrate their production system, control the quality of their products, and hire 165 employees, making them the largest private employer in the county. Their USDA-inspected beef abattoir, designed by Temple Grandin, is only the second of its kind in the United States, and their USDA-inspected poultry abattoir, is the only one in Georgia and the region available for pastured poultry.
Will has previously served as the Beef Director of the American Grassfed Association and president of the board of directors of Georgia Organics. He was named 2011 Georgia Business Person of the Year. White Oak Pastures is one of only 23 global Savory Hubs.
Dr. Elaine Ingham is founder and president of Soil Food Web and director of Soil Food Web School. For the past four decades, she has pioneered research in the field of soil biology and is widely recognized as the world’s foremost soil biologist.
Her goal is to empower farmers to restore the ecological functions of living soils all over the world, ensuring healthy, strong plants and nutritious food, while eliminating soil erosion and the need for chemical inputs.
She has a Masters in microbiology from Texas A&M University and a Ph.D. in microbiology from Colorado State University. Elaine served as chief scientist at The Rodale Institute from 2011-2013. She has previously served as a professor of forest science, botany, and plant pathology at Oregon State University, affiliate professor of sustainable living at Maharishi University of Management, adjunct faculty at Southern Cross University, visiting professor at Melbourne University, and program chair of the Ecological Society of America.
She is author of the USDA’s Soil Biology Primer, The Compost Tea Brewing Manual, The Soil Foodweb, and other publications.
Navina Khanna has dedicated more than 15 years to creating a more just and sustainable world through transforming food systems.
She is Director of HEAL Food Alliance, which works to build collective power to create food and farm systems that are healthy for families, accessible and affordable to communities, and fair to the people who grow, distribute, prepare, and serve food.
With a background in sustainable agriculture and food justice, she’s worked as an educator, community organizer, and policy advocate, organizing across sectors and communities. Based in Oakland, California, Navina serves on the Board of Richmond’s Urban Tilth, advises the Real Food Media Project, and organizes with #Asians4BlackLives.
A first-generation South Asian American, Navina’s worldview is shaped by growing up and growing food in India and the U.S. She previously worked with other people of color committed to food system change to launch the HOPE (Health for Oakland’s People and Environment) Collaborative. In 2011, she coordinated Food and Freedom Rides, traveling 3,000 miles across the country to honor the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement’s Freedom Rides and bring attention to food-related injustices.
She holds a Master’s in international agricultural development from the University of California at Davis, where she also helped to develop the first undergraduate major in sustainable agriculture at a land-grant university.
In 2014, her work was recognized with a James Beard Leadership Award.
Sponsors and Exhibitors
The virtual exhibit hall is a convenient way to learn more about companies and organizations that serve sustainable agriculture. Each exhibitor will have their own profile with information about their company or organization. You will be able to search exhibitor profiles by name and category, track exhibitors you are interested in, make personal notes on each exhibitor’s profile, request a follow up, schedule a meeting, download promotional materials, and even write reviews.
Exhibitors can increase their visibility across the conference through sponsorship and presenting sponsor opportunities that include ads, announcements, and the ability to present a keynote speaker, workshop track, or other exciting conference activities.
Sponsor and exhibitor registration is now open! Sign up early to be included in all pre-conference publicity! If you have questions about becoming a sponsor or exhibitor, contact Renee Hunt at email@example.com or (614) 947-1642.
The Virtual Conference “Center”
We are excited to host our conference on Socio. Socio is an app and online event platform that allows you to attend sessions, organize your schedule, interact with vendors, and network with other attendees. Think of it as a private social media platform that you enter for the duration of the conference. You can create your own profile with as much or as little information about you as you wish to share and use that profile to engage with the other folks at OEFFA. Here are a few features we find particularly exciting:
- The scheduling tool allows you to create your own schedule and get reminders.
- You can easily join sessions from your computer or phone.
- Messaging other attendees is quick and easy.
- Sharing contact information with each other is even easier. And no need to hunt for a pen!
- There’s a message board for engaging with important food and agricultural issues and sharing information.
- There are games that allow you to score points and win prizes by completing fun tasks.
- The event will be available on Socio for a limited time after it ends, so you can re-watch recorded sessions.
Conference artwork created by Kevin Morgan Studio. Conference photography provided by Ed Chen.