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13th Annual Food and Farm Conference to Focus on Importance of Water

A day-long conversation about local food and farming is scheduled for next weekend. The 13th annual Healthy Foods, Local Farms Conference will focus on the theme “No Water, No Food.”Conference coordinator Aloma Dew said the theme is especially relevant this year. 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of The Clean Water Act, which cleaned up miles of waterways and reduced water pollution by regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters. Also this year, Kentucky farmers are recovering from a summer drought.“We wanted to really emphasize to people that how we care for the water, the amount of water, the problems with global climate change and water are very very important to food sources,” Dew said.Keynote speakers for the conference will include farmer activist Lynn Henning, National Geographic environmental editor Dennis Dimick, Christian Environmentalist Mathew Sleeth, and EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner.Speakers will address the connection between water, food and the environment, both in Kentucky and globally.Breakout sessions will address issues of food justice, the economic incentives to local food, the Farm Bill, and food education.Hank Graddy of Watershed Watch Kentucky will speak during one of the sessions about the 40th anniversary of The Clean Water Act and why the legislation is important to farmers and eaters.“We’ll talk about the fact that farmers need clean water to produce healthy food and to feed their livestock, but that there are problems when too many animals are concentrated too close together and there are problems with runoff from industrial agriculture practices,” Graddy said.Other Kentucky speakers will include University of Louisville geography chair Keith Mountain, and farmer author Wendell Berry.Learning stations on beekeeping, rain gardens, native plants, composting and vermiculture, permaculture, hydroponics, and healthy oceans will run concurrently with the breakout sessions.A local lunch will be served, too. Dew says that Louisville has become a national leader in local food and that the conference was one of the first to insist upon providing attendees with an all-local lunch, 13 years ago.“We can bring farmers and chefs and eaters all together so we that we begin to get an idea of what the market is,” she said. “It’s a very intimate conference. People have the opportunity to speak with each other and do a lot of networking. They also have the opportunity to talk with the speakers.”The day-long conference will take place October 13 from 9 am - 5:30 pm at Kentucky Country Day School.More information is available here.