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Field & Fork reconnects with farm and food

by jmaloni
Tue, Feb 12th 2013 07:00 am
Pictured from the Field & Fork Network's 2011 conference are center pieces donated by Singer Farm Naturals. (photo by Caesandra Seawell)
Pictured from the Field & Fork Network's 2011 conference are center pieces donated by Singer Farm Naturals. (photo by Caesandra Seawell)

Field & Fork Network's 'Connections Conference' will be held in Niagara USA 

Western New York has remarkable roots in agriculture. It is home to numerous award-winning wineries and 7,500 farms throughout its eight counties. Agriculture is the largest economic producer in the area, and a major tourist draw, making it an exemplar of the farm-to-table movement.

On Feb. 24 and 25, the Field & Fork Network will host its biennial "Connections Conference" (formerly the Farmer-Chef Conference) at the new, state-of-the art Niagara Falls Culinary Institute. The conference is open to all local food stakeholders from across the Western New York region and beyond. The two-day event will feature a variety of speakers, workshops and demonstrations, all focused on the important connections in building a sustainable food system in Western New York.

"Connections are what make a local food system sustainable, and bridging that gap between the food producers and consumers in Western New York is the key to building a thriving regional food system," said Lisa Tucker, co-founder and board president, Field & Fork Network. "Not only is growing, buying and eating local a key economic tool for the area, but having access to healthy food is necessary for communities to support a sustainable local food system."

The conference will welcome two very distinguished and well-recognized voices in the greater food community.

Dr. Oran Hesterman will deliver the keynote address from 11:15 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Feb. 24. Hesterman is a national leader in sustainable agriculture and food systems. He helped establish the Michigan Food Policy Council and is the author of "Fair Food: Growing a Healthy and Sustainable Food System for All."

Chef Michel Nischan will close the conference with a presentation at 11:15 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 25. Also a proponent of sustainable farming, Nischan is owner and founder of Dressing Room, a homegrown restaurant in Wesport, Conn., and CEO and president of Wholesome Wave, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting increased production and access to healthy, fresh and affordable locally grown food. He is a two-time James Beard Award winner and currently is on the board of trustees for both the James Beard Foundation and Rodale Institute.

The "Connections Conference" will also feature programs and workshops focused on the direct-to-consumer segment of the food and farming community, and industry-related topics particular to the culinary and agriculture industries. The two-day agenda includes sustainable food trends and the role of the community, the next generations of farmers, how technology is changing our food system, and more.

A limited number of media passes are available and include access to the keynote speaker after their speech. For more information, visit wnyconnectionsconference.com.

Connections Conference is sponsored by Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, Wegmans, Lexington Co-operative Market, Rich Products, Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market, Tarantino Foods, Curtze Food Service, E.A.T. Market, Larkin Square, Erie County Agricultural Society, Farmers & Artisans, American Dairy Association and Dairy Council, Edible Buffalo, Buffalo State College and JH Dodman.

Field & Fork Network is a food and farming organization. Its mission is to build capacity for a thriving regional food system in Western New York. Field & Fork Network promotes connections between the consumers, food producers and food buyers in the eight-county region. It strives to create a practical economic engine for local, sustainable agriculture and to provide this region with access to fresh, healthy food.

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