The Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service will host its 30th annual conference Feb. 21-23 in La Crosse. Organizers said this year’s event would be filled with opportunities to look back on MOSES’s history and look toward the future of the industry.

“We’re excited to take this opportunity to look back toward our history and hear from a keynote panel of the pioneers who built the organic movement in this country,” said Lauren Langworthy, MOSES program director. “We’re also excited to look toward the future of organic, sustainable and regenerative agriculture, share our individual visions of the future and work together to improve farming techniques across the county.”

Organic 2051, a forum held on Feb. 21 in conjunction with the conference, will include 100 on-site participants in addition to other professionals working in advance to outline the future shaped by regenerative organic practices and infrastructure to sustain the world’s population in 2051 and beyond.

The MOSES conference will also include a variety of speakers, presentations, workshops and vendors that will engage beginning and experienced farmers.

“These events and the 60 workshops, film screenings, roundtable discussions, research forum, meetings and networking opportunities will combine to create new relationships, share new ideas, root us in our shared history and inspire us to head into another new season of production with a strong vision and a full toolbox,” Langworthy said.

Feb. 21 will also include the separate Organic University program, which provides advanced learning opportunities for farmers looking to take their knowledge to the next level. Topics covered this year include organic weed management, specialty crops and managing risk. Registration for Organic University can be found at mosesorganic.org.

The conference will officially kick off on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. with the opening session. During this session, the Organic Farmers of the Year, Jim Riddle and Joyce Ford, will be recognized for their work in the industry. General sessions are scheduled Friday and Saturday; starting with live music at 1:15 p.m. Friday’s session will highlight some of the founders of MOSES, with Saturday’s session featuring short speeches from farmers doing innovative things in the organic industry.

Each year, the conference draws more than 3,000 attendees from across the country. Last year, farmers attended from 41 states and 12 countries.

“It truly is the largest organic farming conference in the country and the mix of different experiences represented provides a great opportunity for peer learning,” Langworthy said, adding the peer-to-peer learning is one of her favorite parts of the conference each year.

The conference has grown immensely since its inception 30 years ago, with only 90 attendees the first year, Langworthy said. It also has greatly impacted the industry, especially in Wisconsin, over the past 30 years.

“Wisconsin can proudly boast second place in terms of the number of producers in a state. Together the web of industry, farmers and nonprofit support has really boosted Wisconsin’s ability to grow organic farms and define the organic industry in the Upper Midwest,” she said.

Langworthy said she hopes to see the MOSES conference continue to bring people together in the future and provide those networking and learning opportunities to all levels of farmers.

“There is an amazing community of people who truly want to support each other that come to this event. I encourage new farmers or those new to this type of farming to come and experience how willing everyone is to share their perspective and ‘lessons learned,’” she said. “The conference will continue to adapt to new practices, new community members and new demands of the industry, but the spirit of farmers supporting other farmers must remain at the forefront.”

For a full list of events at the 2019 MOSES conference or to register for the conference, visit mosesoganic.org/conference.