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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

Alberto Ortiz Former Big River Farms Farmer

Josie Trople Sharing Our Roots Farm

Lakisha Witter Live Organically Farm

Mallory Mitchell Yawelyahsi·Yò

Naima Dhore Naima’s Farm

Tiffany LaShae

Kristin Thompson Tuttie Fruitties Farm

Lucas Humblet Yawelyahsi·Yò

Moses Momanyi Kilimo & Dawn2Dusk Farm

Nathanial Dioh Bethel Empowerment Farming Venture

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). View the Virtual Exhibit Hall to learn more about partner organizations and sponsors. 

Bekah Kropp Big River Farms

Eli Goodwell Renewing the Countryside

Erika Resendiz Alonso Fond du Lac Tribal Community College

Kaitlyn Walsh

KaZoua Berry Big River Farms

Lucinda Winter Sustainable Farming Association

Nan Roberts Conference Volunteer (since year 1!)

Nikki Crowe Fond du Lac Reservation

Rodrigo Cala Cala Farm

Zoe Hollomon Midwest Farmers of Color Collective

Dan Mahoney Farm Service Agency

Eric Wilson Community Member

Hindolo Pakawa Sierra Leone Foundation for New Democracy

Karl Hakanson UMN Extension

Lillian Otieno MN Dept of Agriculture

Michael Chaney Project Sweetie Pie, Midwest Farmers of Color Collective

Natalie Hoidal UMN Extension

Pilar Ingram Land Stewardship Project

Shannon Kesner MN Dept of Agriculture