November 4th, 2015, Albany

Thank you to the 2015 Speakers and Attendees!

Click Above to Download the Conference Program and Schedule!

Bio and Contact Information for Harvesting Opportunity Presenters Can Be Found Here.

Presentations from the 2015 Harvesting Opportunities Conference are Now Available.

American Farmland Trust is excited to announce that the next Harvesting Opportunities in New York Conference will be held November 4th in Albany! This conference is for people who care about New York agriculture and want to work together to grow local food economies, protect farmland from development, promote environmental stewardship on farms and support the next generation of farmers. Conference participants will include: farmers, public officials from all levels of government, land trusts, local food and public health leaders, institutional food-service managers, agricultural organizations, environmentalists, conservation professionals and concerned citizens.

Conference tracks will include the following. Click on the name of each track for more detailed explanations of the topics covered and a list of scheduled presenters. Biographical information for each of the Harvesting Opportunity presenters can be found here.

Track 1: Save Farms in Your Community The growing, processing, buying and selling of food has traditionally formed the foundation of all economies—and New York State is no different. Yet New York continues to lose farmland to residential developments and shopping malls. Over the last 25 years New York has lost nearly half a million acres of agricultural land, an area equivalent to 4,500 farms, to development. Participate in the Save Farms in Your Community track and heighten your understanding of the diverse benefits of agriculture, discuss the major threats to our working landscape and learn effective ways to generate support for farmland conservation in New York. Workshops will include:

  • Farming in the City & the Country: Land, Economics, & Public Benefit
  • Growing Resources for Farmland Conservation Funding
  • Eminent Domain: Strengthening Protections for Farmland in Your Community

Track 2: Buy Local Institutions such as schools, colleges, hospitals and emergency food providers feed millions of New Yorkers. The State University of New York (SUNY) alone spends $101 million annually to serve meals across 29 campuses. That's a lot of food and a great market opportunity for farmers. From Farm to School and College to Food Hubs, the Buy Local track will dig into efforts to build the links in the supply chain team from farmer to eater. Workshops will include:

  • Food Hubs: Building the Supply Chain
  • Farm to College: Value Chain Collaboration from Farmer to Student
  • Farm to School: Bringing Local to the Lunchroom

Track 3: Keep Farmers on the Land Securing access to agricultural land is one of the largest barriers to the next generation of farmers in New York. At the same time, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, nearly one-third of New York's farmers are aged 65 and older and nearly one-third of New York's farmland, over two million acres, is owned and operated by these senior farmers. When this farmland transfers ownership, how can we ensure that it remains in agriculture and transitions to the next generation of farmers? The Keep Farmers on the Land track delves into programs and policies that help next generation farmers gain access to farmland and keep it in agricultural production for generations to come. Workshops will include:

  • Increasing Farmer Access to Publicly Owned Farmland
  • Investing in Helping Farmers Find a Farm
  • Using Agricultural Conservation Easements to Aid Farmers in Securing Land

Track 4: Agricultural Stewardship in a Changing Climate New York farmers work hard to protect the quality of the soil and water essential to grow crops and raise livestock, yet they face new challenges due to extreme weather brought on by our changing climate. Learn about the effects of climate change on New York agriculture, and discuss best practices to support food system and crop resiliency. Workshops will include:

  • Climate Change and New York Agriculture
  • Improving Soil Health to Increase Farmers' Productivity and Resilience
  • Alternative Perspectives on Agriculture, Local Food and Climate Change

Track 5: Local Agriculture and Land Use Leadership Institute New York is a home rule state in which over 900 towns create and enforce their own land use regulations. These towns are governed by locally elected officials, many of whom function as volunteers. The Local Agriculture and Land Use Leadership Institute provides a venue for local officials to develop the skills they need to become effective leaders, and learn how to recognize and steward the farmland so valuable to their communities. Workshops will include:

  • Leadership Competencies: What's Really Important?
  • Connecting Land Use Planning, Farmland Protection & Agricultural Economic Development
  • Identifying Productive Farmland in Your Community

Track 6: Spread the Word All Americans eat, yet less than two percent of us farm. Communicating about farming with a public that has no firsthand knowledge of agricultural is a major challenge. Participants in the Spread the Word track will share strategies for effectively communicating agricultural issues, learn about the components of a compelling story and be coached by professionals in drafting stories about on pertinent issues. Workshops will include:

  • Communicating About Agriculture with Non-Farming Audiences
  • Telling Stories to Promote Agriculture & Local Food Part 1
  • Telling Stories to Promote Agriculture & Local Food Part 2

Even though interest in growing the farm and food economy in New York has never been higher, there are major challenges facing agriculture in New York. Over the last 25 years nearly half a million acres of farmland, the equivalent of 4,500 farms, has been lost to housing developments, shopping malls and big box stores. And, with nearly 30 percent of farmers in New York over age 65, there is an important need to help farm families plan for transferring their farms and the next generation of farmers find a farm in New York. All of this is further complicated by severe weather and challenges in adapting our farm and food system to a changing climate.

Fueling Conversations About Local Food

In addition to presentations and workshops, attendees will also enjoy our cider doughnut continental breakfast and "An Early Thanksgiving – Locally Grown" lunch buffet, each included with the purchase of your ticket. Vegetarian and gluten-free options will be available to accommodate our guests. Please let us know if you have any special dietary considerations.

Become a Sponsor

The Harvesting Opportunities in New York 2015 conference will bring together more than 200 farmers, public officials, experts and advocates in agriculture, local foods, conservation, public health, land use and economic development planning and more. Your sponsorship will help attract and make Harvesting Opportunities in New York affordable for this dynamic group of professionals and volunteers working to build a stronger farm and food economy and protect critical farmland in New York. We hope you will join us in supporting this exciting event!

To learn about our different levels of sponsorship benefits and scholarship opportunities click here.

Thank you to our 2015 sponsors!

Attend the Conference

Driving Directions, Parking Information, and Map of Empire State Plaza: map (printable pdf) & driving and parking directions

Empire State Plaza Map:

Event Location: Empire State Plaza, Meeting Room 6 – Concourse Level, Albany, NY

Event Time: 8:30 am – 5:00 pm

Cost of Attendance: $95

Want More Information about the Harvesting Opportunities in New York Conference? Stay tuned to Facebook and Twitter pages #HarvestNY15. In the meantime, if you have any questions please email us at or call (518) 581-0078.

Remember—No Farms No Food!