Below is a list of workshops we have taught. We are happy to adjust the focus of a workshop to meet your audience’s needs or combine several or develop a new one. Just ask.
Used Vegetable Equipment: Tips on Finding, Evaluating, and Buying It
Buying a solution or creating a problem? Join veteran farmer and equipment aficianado for a practical workshop on small and mid-sized used vegetable equipment. Determining your equipment needs and options includes knowing what’s available and how it fits into your growing system, along with how to find it and evaluate its condition. Also explore ownership, leasing, sharing, and custom-work options and RONI — Return On Investment — with a look at the true costs of equipment, including repairs, history, and useful life.
Weed management can be offered as two workshops, one covering biological control and systemic weed management, and the other covering mechanical; each could be a stand alone; or both areas could be covered in one workshop.
Weed Control On The Organic Vegetable Farm: Weed the Soil, Not the Crop
Successful weed management on an organic farm requires more than good cultivation. Organic farmer, Martin Diffley, will provide practical how-to information on systemic and biological approaches including: rotations, weed seed-bank reduction, stale beds, fertility and tilth, predation and allelopathy, living mulch, canopy and niche in relation to the agronomic principles of an organic farming system.
Weed-Control Equipment for Vegetable Farms
As your farm grows, mechanizing your weed control makes economic sense, but how do you choose the right equipment for the job? Join organic pioneer Martin Diffley of Organic Farming Works, as he talks weeds, the history of weed control in organic systems, equipment options and the tractor as a tool carrier. Learn what equipment tools are available, affordable and appropriate for your farm application.
Small Scale Equipment For The Produce Farmer
Learn how to determine your equipment needs, the tools and techniques available to keep you weeds under control, as well as pitfalls to avoid. and what options are available to you, as well as how to source appropriate new and used equipment specific to vegetable production.
Marketing Strategies for Vegetable Growers
Marketing is not a passive process. Market research starts long before the seed is in the ground. Learn how to actively seek buyers, negotiate contracts, build relationships with wholesalers, and consumers and other farmers. This workshop provides general guidance on strategies for marketing organic vegetables. Topics covered are: marketing methods, production decisions, pricing strategies, and merchandising.
Growing Customers, Reaping Profit
No matter what market you serve, success is built upon the strength of your relationships and the quality and consistency of your produce. Do you expect your customers to meet your needs or do you plan to meet theirs? What do you stand for? What can you do best? What is most important to your customers, price, quality or service? Can you deliver all three? This workshop presents tools and strategies to build a relationship-based farm business focused on service and quality. Learn how to adjust your marketing, production, and agronomic plans to meet your customer’s needs.
Brand Name and Relationship Marketing: Tell Your Farm's Story
One of the most powerful ways you can create stability in your market is through name brand marketing. It isn’t just produce your customers want and need. The opportunity to have a relationship with your farm has a value with a shelf life much longer than fresh food. It also creates goodwill and a committed customer who will support you when disasters hits. To build a committed relationship with your customers learn to tell a compelling story about yourself, your farm, and your products.
Selling Produce to Retailers
From bunch sizes and lot codes to sequential planting and quality control, selling to retail stores requires meeting the buyer’s needs and maintaining quality and consistency through attentive to details. Learn how to serve the wholesale market and make your farm a highly desired source of fresh produce. Learn what it takes to keep your retail buyer coming back for more.
Post-Harvest and Food Safety
Keep The Quality: Post-Harvest Handling For Vegetable Farms
What you do in the pack shed often makes the critical difference between vegetables that sit around and vegetables that sell and hold their quality long after they have left the farmer’s hands. Come learn the tools, techniques, and philosophies that guide a quality packing operation.
Food Safety For Vegetable Farms
If you grow produce and sell it you are a food handler and are responsible for the "wellness" of your product. Food safety needs to be understood and implemented by every farmer, no matter what size, but it's not a one-size-fits-all. This workshop is designed for small to mid-scale fruit and vegetable growers and provides the information needed to develop a Food Safety Plan that meets your farm's needs.
Soil Health And Biodiversity In Practice: Harnessing Biology, Ecology, And Resiliency On The Farm
Promoting biodiversity both above and below the soil provides a wide variety of ecosystem services that enhance food growing capacity and quality of life. Join organic vegetable farmer and consultant Atina Diffley for this exploration of the natural processes in the environment and how you can work with them. Listen
Soil Basics: Soil Building and Rotations for Vegetable Farmers
Discover how cover crops can provide the key to unlocking your soil’s potential. This workshop will cover rotation and fertility designs based on soil-building crops with the additional benefits of drought proofing you farm and reducing weed pressure and dependence on tillage.
Producing a steady supply of produce throughout your entire growing season is key to satisfying buyers and maximizing farm profits. Learn how to design a sequential planting/harvest plan, including when to plant, which cultivars, and how to adjust plantings based on weather and markets.
Weed Control On The Organic Vegetable Farm: Systems And Tools
Successful weed management in an organic system requires much more than good cultivation. Martin Diffley will discuss weed physiology and management using rotations, seed bed reduction, fertility, cover crops, and tillage equipment, in relation to the agronomic principles of an organic farming system.
Quality Of Life
Systems And Communication Tools For A Healthy Farm Partnership
A farming business partnership can be a relationship disaster or a positive and productive experience. Farming is a demanding lifestyle; learn communication skills and systems, to balance family, farm, relationships, and self. Key components to creating a healthy farm partnership include:
- Having The Same Vision: For a partnership to be successful, all parties involved must agree on the same goal and direction for the farm. Set a clear agreed course for the farm that meets the needs of both partners.
- Defining Business Roles: A successful business partnership capitalizes on the strengths and skills of each partner. Divide business roles and decision-making responsibilities according to each individuals strengths and other influencing factors.
- Weekly and monthly work plans. A strong team is based on clear understanding of expectations and the work to be done.
- Good communication skills are a key component of creating a healthy partnership. A strong business partnership is built on an open communicating relationship and meeting on a regular basis to share grievances, review roles, and provide constructive criticism.We will discuss and practice:
- Listening to understand
- Using “I” statements and advanced “I sandwiches”
- Using Healthy Anger
This is an active workshop, based on exercises, dialog between partners, and sharing with the group of participants. Get ready to roll up your sleeves and do the deep work that opens the way for healthy relationships.
This workshop is designed for business partners and married couples where both parties are engaged in the farm decision making and/or work activity and are committed to working on a healthy relationship. Can be attended alone but with your partner is recommended as the majority of class time is spent doing exercises specific to your operation and discussing with partner and group. This workshop is not intended or designed to address relationships that have deteriorated into a state of opposition.
Writing About What Matters
Transformational writing inspires others to take action by awakening readers to new possibilities—they leave changed knowing that what they experienced is real. People can and will argue with your interpretation of the facts, no one can argue with the truth of your experience, making a well-told story the most effective tool for persuasion. To create a better story, the most important voice to hear is your own so you can energetically engage in what calls to you. Then you can’t help but speak up and out, the transformational story comes from deep within you and reflects what you most care about.
True Dirt: Bring Life’s Work to the Page
Whether writing for CSA newsletters, magazines, letters to the editor, your friends, or a book deep inside you burning to be written, telling your inner story and experience serves your farm, the food and farming revolution, and your community. This hands-on workshop will include writing exercises to develop your voice and story and reach your readers on a sensory and emotional level. The intellect is engaged to understand the issues–the heart must be stirred to create behavior change in your reader. Class time will include in-class writing and participatory workshop/sharing.
Our Spiritual Relationship With The Land That Feeds Us
Imagine. If you had a relationship with something that was absolutely ancient, and so precious, that life – including yours – could not survive without it. What would you do to protect it? How would you care for it? Growing food is a spiritual relationship with the life process. Eating is a spiritual act. Our daily food decisions affect the wellness of the land, and the life that lives upon it. Join Atina Diffley, organic farmer and author of Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works for an empowering conversation about our spiritual food relationships—with the earth, plants and animals, families and communities.
Eat, Educate, and Engage in Policy As If The Earth Matters, Because It Does: Biological Diversity, Ecosystem Services, and Organic Farming
Join organic author of Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works, Atina Diffley, for a conversation on agriculture and biological diversity that leads right to our plates and the land that feeds us. An organic vegetable farmer and activist, Atina and her husband Martin operated Gardens of Eagan from 1973 to 2008, marketing direct to food co-op groceries and their roadside stand. Consumers have tremendous power in the work of protecting land and nature and making policy change. Informed citizen input made a big difference when the Diffleys faced the threat of eminent domain by a Koch Industries owned pipeline. The Diffleys intervened as parties to the route proceeding, and created an Organic Mitigation Plan that now provides soils and certification protections for all Minnesota organic farms threatened by a public utility.
Eating As An Earth Advocate: Scientific Findings About Organic Agriculture
How our food is grown has an impact on human health, climate change, food security, biological diversity, air, and water quality. Come hear what the scientific community has discovered about the production practices used in organic agriculture and why the President’s 2010 Cancer Panel Report urges consumers to choose foods grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, and growth hormones.
What Audiences Are Saying
"I attended Atina's Food Safety and Post-Harvest Handling workshop in Oconomowoc and it was one of the best Farming workshops of any kind I ever attended. Thanks" -- Jay Salinas, Gaining Ground Project, Farley Center for Peace, Justice, & Sustainability
"Atina was highly motivating. I can't wait to get my hands dirty." MOSES Organic Farming conference
"I walked from away from Atina’s Quality Of Life Workshop: Systems And Communication Tools For A Healthy Farm Partnership with a refreshing way to work towards my farming goals and all relationships in my life. Atina gave her whole self during the session. It is clear insight--reminding me to keep on with my life’s dreams and blend them in with the high demanding responsibilities of farming. That some how brings me peace of mind. I am so glad I came." -- Amelia Neaton, Sweet Beet Farm, February 2012, Minneapolis
"Atina’s willingness to share her personal stories meant so much and created an environment where everyone could step up and make it to the table in an honest and open way. She’s an amazing woman." -- Jen Cuff, Strawberry Moon Fibers, 2012 Systems And Communication Tools For A Healthy Farm Partnership