Join us for the annual Direct Farm Marketing Conference, February 8th and 9th at the Canad Inns Destination Centre Polo Park, Winnipeg

This year’s line up of sessions has something for everyone; from soil health and regenerative farming, to developing a marketing plan and health regulations at farmers’ markets. (You can see the lineup for this year’s conference below).

In addition we have a trade show, delicious local lunches with food sourced from our members, and our hoedown, an awesome time of music and networking on Friday evening.

You can purchase your Direct Farm Marketing Conference 2019 tickets here!

Hoedown tickets can be purchased here (conference registrants can purchase discounted tickets here)


Friday February 8th

11:00  Registration

11:45-1:00 p.m.  Welcome and lunch

1:15-4:30 p.m.

Marketing Strategy and Tactics –Keri Kettle – University of Manitoba

In this interactive 3-hour workshop, Keri Kettle will guide you through the process of making your own marketing strategy, and choosing marketing tactics to support your strategy. This will include exercises to help you define your Mission and Values, the benefit you wish to provide to customers, and how you will position yourself in the market. We will also discuss online and offline marketing tactics, what works, what doesn’t and what you might try – and whether they support your strategy.

Soil Health – Marla Riekman and John Heard, MB Agriculture, with Ian Grossart (Howpark Farms) and Justin Girard (Hearts and Roots)  

Marla & John will start the session by discussing the concepts of “soil health”, which will include soil stability and a discussion of soil health analysis and which tests are presently of value based on recent reviews and findings of the Soil Health Institutes.  The second half of the session will have the participants split into two groups (vegetable or livestock) with either Marla or John, and discuss topics that directly relate to their farming, including examples from both Ian and Justin.  The session will end with a wrap up discussion and summary of the primary points.

4:30-5:00 p.m.

Our Relationship with the Land: An Indigenous Perspective

In this session, we explore our relationship with land from the perspective of indigenous law, culture and spirituality and what role farmers could play in the journey to reconciliation. Join a representative from the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba as they walk us through historical and cultural knowledge to support our self-reflection and learning.


7:00 p.m.  Hoedown: Join us for the 2nd annual Direct Farm Manitoba Hoedown!

Saturday February 9th

7:30 Registration

8:30-8:45 a.m. Welcome

9:00-10:00 a.m.

Selling at Farmers’ Markets: Regulations– Mike LeBlanc, Manager; MB Health Protection Unit 

Mike will discuss the regulations surrounding a Farmers’ Market from the vendor and coordinator perspective, as well as high risk versus low risk foods,  labelling, commercial kitchens, and food safety tips for preparing foods at home. A question and answer period will follow.

Trends and Issues in Market Gardening – Jeffrey Veenstra, Wild Earth Farms & Martin Natiuk, Hnatiuk Gardens

Our panel of local market gardeners will share both their successes and issues in relation to growing and direct marketing their product.  A question period and discussion will follow.

Pork Quality Assurance Program – Mark Fynn and Jeff Clark, Manitoba Pork
Canadian Pork Excellence (CPE) is the national platform that covers on-farm food safety, on-farm animal care and the national swine traceability system under one umbrella.  There are nearly 300 small-scale, direct farm marketers producing pork in Manitoba.  It is important that the remarkable work of all producers is reflected in the policy approach of these assurance systems for the Canadian pork industry to meet domestic and global consumer demand.  CPE components, program requirements and benefits will be presented. 

10:30-11:45 a.m. 

Annual General Meeting– Direct Farm Manitoba

11:45-1:00 p.m.  Lunch and Tradeshow

1:00 – 2:00 p.m. 

Grant Writing– Danielle Mondor, Fort Whyte Farms & Marilyn Firth, Le Marchè St. Norbert Farmers’ Market 

Intimidated by the grant writing process? Wondering how to find grants, and how to complete them for the best results? Writing a grant can be challenging, but a few hints and tips can make the process far less intimidating.  Join Danielle and Marilyn as they bring their perspectives, from the farm and farmers’ market, to lead you through the ins and outs of grant writing.

Water Management– Devon Baete, Assiniboine Hills Conservation District

Devon Baete grew up on a beef farm in the hills of Bruxelles in south central Manitoba. An outdoor enthusiast, he studied Natural Resources Management in University. Since 2006 he has worked for the Assiniboine Hills Conservation District as the Resource Technician working on the ground with landowners on any and all water and soil management projects. His presentation will cover a variety of topics from well water maintenance and earth dams to livestock watering system and erosion.

Selling to Restaurants and Food Services– Chef Peter Ecker, Sysco & Steffen Zinn, Red Ember Pizza

Our panel of purchasers representing different food businesses will discuss their experiences in sourcing local food. There are challenges on both sides of the equation, but for small farms, this can be a viable channel to market your products. There will be time to share your experiences too, so come prepared for a lively discussion!

2:30-3:30 p.m.

Agri-Tourism– Ciff Freund, CD Trees

From pick-your-own strawberry fields to mazes in corn and snow, agri-tourism encompasses a broad range of activities.  CD Trees has been providing Christmas trees since 1996 and now also offers many fun winter activities for customers to enjoy on their visit to the farm. Join Cliff as he shares about their tree farm and the ways agri-tourism has played a part in its success .

Market Coordinator Round Table

Are you a market coordinator that wants to give a kick start to their market planning?  Come and join our market managers as they discuss how different markets handle various issues such as finding vendors, setting fees, space limitations, assigning booths, and creating a vibrant market setting.

Regenerative Agriculture– Mary-Jane Orr, Manitoba Beef and Forage Initiatives & Lydia Carpenter, Luna Field Farm

Regenerative Agriculture includes on-farm practices that improve pasture productivity, optimize livestock production strategies and livestock and crop production synergies as well as responds to changing public and market expectations for livestock production.  The session will highlight opportunities in regenerative agriculture, trends in research, and how farm systems and ground-level thinking can enhance natural resources such as healthy soil and intact grasslands as well as boost farm profits.

3:30-4:30 p.m.

Keynote: Farm Families– Dan and Fran DeRuyck, DeRuycks Top of the Hill Farm; Dan, Wilma, and Chad Wiens, Wiens Farm/Heart Acres Farm; Teri Jenkins, Brown Sugar Produce

Life as a farm family can be both rewarding and challenging. Balancing the needs of the family with the needs of the farm in a way that is beneficial to both is a necessity.  From time management and professional development to extended family dynamics and farming with young children, our panel of farm families have years of experience and wisdom to share.

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