Check out the top-notch speakers at this year’s Conference!



Nazirahk Amen, ND, L.Ac., Homeopathic, Naturopathic Physician, Owner, Purple Mountain Organics

Nazirahk AmenNazirahk Amen, ND, L.Ac. is a homeopath, naturopathic physician and oriental medicine practitioner for over 15 years in the Washington DC Metro area and resides in Takoma Park, MD. In addition to a busy medical practice, he manages about 5 acres of orchard and vegetable production. He is the owner of Purple Mountain Organics which offers fine quality tools, growing supplies and sustainable ag services. Dr. Amen is first and foremost a spiritual adherent practicing and refining harmonious living skills for himself and the greater community and is excited to share information and skills gained from this journey.


Tradd Cotter, Microbiologist, Mycologist, Organic Gardener, Owner, Mushroom Mountain Author: Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation

Tradd-CotterTradd Cotter is a microbiologist, professional mycologist, and organic gardener, who has been tissue culturing, collecting, and cultivating native fungi in the Southeast – both commercially and experimentally –  for more than twenty-three years. He has recently published Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation, a comprehensive guide to cultivating and using mushrooms at home or on the farm. In 1996, he founded Mushroom Mountain, which he owns and operates with his wife, Olga, in order to explore the many applications for mushrooms in various industries. Today, Mushroom Mountain has expanded to a 50,000 square foot building used for cultivation, mycoremediation, and medicinal research projects. The laboratory has been constructed to EPA and FDA standards and houses more than 200 species of fungi, most of them native isolates from the Eastern United States. His primary interest is in low-tech and no-tech cultivation strategies so that anyone can grow mushrooms on just about anything, anywhere in the world. Tradd will be presenting on Cultivating Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms at Home or on the Farm in a Friday pre-conference intensive and an Saturday workshop on Mushrooms, Molds, and Mycorrhizae in the Specialty Crops track.


Pam Dawling, Vegetable Grower, Twin Oaks Community

Author: Sustainable Market Farming: Intensive Vegetable Production on a Few Acres

Pam-DawlingPam Dawling is the author of Sustainable Market Farming: Intensive Vegetable Production on a Few Acres. She is also a contributing editor with Growing for Market magazine. An avid vegetable grower for over 40 years, she has lived at Twin Oaks Community in central Virginia for 25 years, growing vegetables and berries for 100 people on 3.5 acres, and providing training for members in sustainable vegetable production. www.sustainablemarketfarming.com, www.facebook.com/SustainableMarketFarming


Ken Dawson, Owner/Farmer, Maple Spring Gardens

KenDawson (1)Ken Dawson, with his wife, Libby Outlaw, and daughter, Sunshine Dawson, own and operate Maple Spring Gardens in Cedar Grove, NC. Ken has grown vegetables by organic methods since 1972 and farmed full time since 1984. In addition to selling at farmers’ markets, Maple Spring Gardens has a 150+ member CSA. They produce a wide range of vegetables, small fruits, and culinary and medicinal herbs, both in the field and in

​5​ unheated hoophouses. He served for 24 years on the boards of local farmers’ markets, as a farmer representative on the Southern SARE Administrative Council, and currently serves on the Orange County Food Council and Ag Preservation Board. He has mentored numerous young people who have worked with him and gone on to own and operate their own farms.


Atina Diffley, Conference keynote speaker, Organic Farmer-Educator and Activist

Author: Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works

Atina DiffneyAtina Diffley is an organic farmer-educator, activist, and author of the 2013 Minnesota Book Award winner, Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works–a memoir based on Atina’s life running the Gardens of Eagan organic vegetable farm. Her advocacy has addressed the pressures of suburban development, and she successfully led a legal and citizen campaign against the notorious polluters, Koch Industries, to create an Organic Mitigation Plan for organic farms in Minnesota.


Molly C. Haviland, Certified Soil Life Consultant, Haviland Earth Regeneration

Author: A Microherder’s Manifesto



Joe Hollis, Owner, Mountain Gardens

Joe Hollis


Meredith Leigh, Farmer, Butcher, Cook

Author: The Ethical Meat Handbook: A Complete Guide to Home Butchery, Charcuterie, and Cooking for the Conscious Omnivore and Pure Charcuterie: The Craft & Poetry of Curing Meats at Home

Meredith-LeighOver the past 15 years, Meredith Leigh has worked as a farmer, butcher, chef, teacher, non-profit executive director, and writer,  all in pursuit of sustainable food.  She developed a farmer co-op, founded and catalyzed non-profit ventures, grown vegetables, flowers, and meats, owned and managed a retail butcher shop, and more. She is the author of  The Ethical Meat Handbook: A Complete Guide to Home Butchery, Charcuterie, and Cooking for the Conscious Omnivore, and the forthcoming Pure Charcuterie: The Craft & Poetry of Curing Meats at Home. Above all,  she is committed to real, good food, as a means to connect with people, animals, and plants, learn new skills, create intentionally, stay inspired, and experience deliciousness.


Smithson Mills, Consultant/Executive Director, Blue Ridge Food Ventures



Michael Phillips, Horticulturist, Lost Nation Orchard

Author: The Apple Grower and The Holistic Orchard

MichaelPhillipsMichael Phillips is renowned for helping people grow healthy fruit using herbal protocols. The “community orchard movement” that he helped found at www.GrowOrganicApples.com provides a full immersion into the holistic approach to orcharding. His Lost Nation Orchard is part of a medicinal herb farm in northern New Hampshire. He is the author of The Apple Grower and The Holistic Orchard which recently received Garden Book of the Year honors from the American Horticultural Society. His work has been compared with Sir Albert Howard and J.I. Rodale’s classic books on organic gardening. Michael’s latest, Mycorrhizal Planet:How Fungi and Plants Work Together to Create Dynamic Soils, will rock you!


Michael W. Twitty, Culinary Historian, Food Writer, Chef

Author: The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South

Michael TwittyMichael W. Twitty is a culinary historian and food writer from the Washington D.C. area. His first major book, The Cooking Gene, is now out from HarperCollins in 2017.


Ira Wallace, Worker/owner, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Author: The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast

Ira WallaceIra Wallace is a worker/owner of the cooperatively managed Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and a Central Virginia Master Gardener. She serves on the boards of the Organic Seed Alliance, the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and the Virginia Association for Biological Farming.. She also writes about heirloom vegetables and seed saving for magazines and blogs including Mother Earth News, Fine Gardening and Southern Exposure. Her book, The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast, is available online and at booksellers everywhere.


For a full list of speakers, please see the conference workshops page

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