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About the Emerging Farmers Conference

The annual Emerging Farmers Conference (formerly the Immigrant & Minority Farmers Conference) serves to advance the success and sustainability of farmers who traditionally face barriers to the education and resources necessary to build profitable agricultural businesses, including immigrant farmers and farmers of color.

This innovative conference focuses primarily on the needs and interests of these farmers, and supports their contributions to local economic development and building healthy communities. It does so by connecting farmers, farm advocates, educators, professionals, experts, and agency officials.

The Emerging Farmers Conference (EFC) is FREE for all farmers and language interpretation is available in Spanish, Hmong, Karen, Bhutanese, Vietnamese, and Somali. Interpretation is based on registration. (We do our best to accommodate all farmers, but cannot guarantee interpretation for last-minute registrations.)

The EFC is a program of Big River Farms. It is planned and hosted by a collaborative of farmers and volunteers,  government, nonprofit, and University of Minnesota personnel. 



Farmers obtain a deeper understanding of resources available to them and methods by which they can access those resources to support and grow their farming businesses. For example, farmers will be provided with financial plans, soil maps, and contact information for organizations who provide land leasing and purchase information.


Valuable connections are made between local farmers, vendors, organizations, and community groups which support emerging farmer populations and strengthen all components of the local food system.


Farmers gain specific, hands-on knowledge which is directly applicable to their farm businesses and will increase the success of their farm operations. For example, farmers will leave with a deeper understanding of weed management or production techniques for specialty crops. Organizations and community stakeholders gain exposure to a deeper understanding of the contributions immigrant and minority farmers make to the local food system, and the importance of supporting sustainable agricultural practices in their communities.


Conference participants are empowered to enact change in their local communities, specifically in the areas of racial equity and sustainable agriculture as they relate to the local food system. For example, participants will have the opportunity to connect with other farmers in our collaborative problem solving workshop. This facilitated discussion aims to foster relationships between farmers, allows them a space to talk about common challenges, and find solutions to those challenges.

Farmer Advisory Committee

The Farmer Advisory Committee informs the Emerging Farmers Conference planning process of farmer needs. These members meet monthly to advise on content and outreach. Are you a farmer who is interested in joining the Farmer Advisory Committee for future conferences and events? Big River Farms

Jane Windsperger

Kristin Thompson

Mallory Mitchell

Marisa Benasutti

Naima Dhore

Nura Ahmed

Tiffany LaShae

Planning Committee

The Emerging Farmers Conference is a collaborative event organized by local, state, and federal organizations, led by Big River Farms (a program of The Food Group). 

Aaron Blyth, Latino Economic Development Center

Amanda Koehler, Land Stewardship Project

Amy Johnston, UMN Extension

Ellyn Oelfke, Farm Service Agency

Erika Resendiz Alonso, Fond du Lac Tribal Community College

Hana Tanberg, The Good Acre

Katie Lee, UMN Extension SARE

KaZoua Berry, The Food Group

Laura Mirafuentes, The Food Group

Levi Wellbourn, Latino Economic Development Center

Lillian Otieno, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Lucia Possehl, Sharing Our Roots

Mar Horns, The Food Group

Marisa Benasutti, Augsburg College

Nan Roberts, Independent Contractor

Nikki Crowe, Fond du Lac

Rachel Holmes, The Food Group

Sara George, Renewing The Countryside

Sara Woutat, Independent Contractor

Sina War, Minnesota Farmers Market Association

Summer Badawi, The Food Group

Whitney Terrill, Land Stewardship Project

Zoe Hollomon, Midwest Farmers of Color Collective