ST. CLOUD (WJON News) - Organic farming is the focus of a two-day convention this week in St. Cloud.

The Minnesota Organic Conference, an annual event sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, is an opportunity for organic farmers to network, learn the latest trends, and find products and services for the 2024 growing season.

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In addition to a trade show, dozens of breakout sessions deal with all aspects of organic farming, from weed management and soil health management to social media marketing and going solar on the farm.

Rachel Wandrei is the marketing manager for Minnesota Grown, a trade show attendee and breakout session sponsor. She says the group publishes an online wholesale and consumer directory of Minnesota farming operations so others can search for various on-farm businesses and farmers' markets. A listing in the directory opens a business up to several other resources to help those businesses grow.

We provide free branded marketing materials; stickers that say Minnesota Grown, rubber bands, twist ties, and functional things that small farmers already use. If they're working at a farmers market, we have price cards (and) reusable things that they can use to make their booth professional.

Thom Petersen, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner, was at the conference as part of the Legislative Listening Session. He says organic farming is a growing segment of Minnesota Agriculture.

I'm a big fan of diversity in providing opportunities for farmers. Organic may be for every farm, but not for every farmer. A lot of people are interested in buying organic products from the farm, and that provides opportunities for niche markets to produce those crops.

The Minnesota Organic Conference wraps up Friday at the River’s Edge Convention Center with three breakout session periods and a keynote speaker.

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