What do we mean when we say that this will be a different kind of conference?

This conference has set out to create a space for rich dialogues and strengthening collaboration. In addition to presentations from our featured speakers in plenaries, panels and oral sessions, our agenda will enable many opportunities for conversation. We look forward to working with you to strengthen our collective Farm to School efforts.

At the conference you can expect:

  1. Networking opportunities
  2. Connecting among regions
  3. Farm to School demonstrations
  4. A marketplace of tools and resources
  5. Facilitated dialogues
  6. Collective brainstorming
  7. Interactive workshops
  8. Graphic recording and visual templates

A message from Theresa Healy, Master of Ceremonies:

What is the collective noun for a group of conference attendees? A Participation.

We work to change the world of food. No easy task this, to ensure equity and health, adventure and comfort, in food, and in our food systems. So much of this work demands lifelong commitment. Yet, we approach that task with enthusiasm, intelligence, and innovation.

Then we bring our passion, our hunger to know and learn to a conference. A conference is such an important space to find allies and ideas and the opportunity to be together in the same space is so rare.  Unfortunately, while we strive to change the infrastructures in the world of food we are still relying on an outdated mode of learning in our conferences. We sit and listen to experts, and only the brave ask questions, if the speaker left time for any. What is probably the only opportunity for rich dialogues becomes an uncomfortable and dispiriting end to a session.  Feedback from earlier conferences has confirmed what we know. WE must privilege the voices in the room, especially those from marginalized edges, to become part of the process, not just recipients of it.

We want to change the conference experience into something positive and informative. We want our conference structure to match the passion and experience in the room. We want to acknowledge that the expertise for our challenging work is found all around us, and in us. WE want to hear from each other, not just the guests at the front of the room.

Thus, this conference will look and feel differently. A more engaged audience looks like a participation. We have built in places on the agenda for the folks in the room to be able to contribute to the learning. We call on you to join us in this daring experiment. Let’s show what a truly effective conference can and should look like. We ask you to participate fully, share openly and contribute respectfully. We may not always agree but if we listen carefully to each other we can move forward together on a national scale.  

If we aspire to change the world of food, we can easily change conference structures. Join us.