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Eco-farming takes center stage

Eco-farming takes center stage


January 22, 2003

PACIFIC GROVE -- Fighting globalization, staving off genetically modified food and farming in an environment-friendly manner will be among the topics this week as more than 1,200 farmers convene for the 23rd annual Ecological Farming Conference.
The largest sustainable agriculture conference west of the Mississippi River begins today at the Asilomar Conference Center. It is hosted by the Watsonville-based Ecological Farming Association and will continue through Saturday.
Organic farmers and growers who are seeking to reduce pesticide use are the focus of the conference, but the event also draws produce industry representatives, researchers, environmentalists and consumers.
“We try to give farmers the knowledge and skill to farm with fewer pesticides or grow organic,” said Zea Sonnebena of the Ecological Farming Association.
There will be 57 workshops and more than 150 speakers from around the world, including farmers from Russia, Brazil and India.
Among the topics will be how to keep genetically engineered foods out of organic farming, and help local farmers establish markets in the face of increasing global competition. Workshops will also focus on bio-diesel fuel and clean water for salmon.
This year’s conference comes on the heels of last year’s implementation of federal labeling requirements for organic foods. While the conference draws organic farmers, it also lures traditional growers interested in everything from the use of beneficial insects for pest control to composting.
The conference begins today with bus tours of the Salinas and Pajaro valleys, then kicks off at 8 p.m. with the opening session titled “Building Hope: Uprooting World Hunger,” by writer Anna Lappé.
The cost for the whole conference is $210, or $98 for one day. For information, call 763-2111 or log onto
Contact Brian Seals at bseals (at)
Ecological Farming Conference
WHAT: The largest sustainable agriculture conference west of the Mississippi River.
WHEN: Today through Saturday.
WHERE: The Asilomar Conference Center, 800 Asilomar Ave., Pacific Grove.
INFORMATION: Call the Watsonville-based Ecological Farming Association at 763-2111 or log onto

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