The program is arranged into three tracks

designed for growers, marketers, and community food supporters

View the full agenda at a glance, and track designation here.

Agenda and program are being finalized and subject to modification

Tuesday, April 30: Day 1

9:00 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. - WELCOME from Kimber Lanning, Local First Arizona Foundation

9:15 a.m. - 10:15 a.m. - KEYNOTE from Gary Paul Nabhan

Success Stories From Arizona: Healing Our Lands & Communities

Nabhan will present success stories from Arizona, highlighting how working for a healthier food system is one of the few goals that bridge the many divides in America today, by uniting urban and rural, left and right, immigrant and indigenous, producer and consumer in ways that build lasting collaborations.

10:15 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. - BOOK SIGNING AND NETWORKING BREAK

10:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. - BREAKOUT SESSION 1

  • The Business of Heritage Foods

  • Eat With Our Eyes First: Growing Your Brand

  • Rooted in Research: The Next Generation of Food Access

12:00pm - 1:30 p.m. - CATERED LUNCH from Uprooted Kitchen (included in ticket price)

  • Lunch & Learn: Cultivate Prosperity with Good Food Finder!

    Grow your business and connect with Arizona's eaters using Good Food Finder's updated platform.

  • Farmers Market Manager Lunch (by invitation only)

1:30 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. - BREAKOUT SESSION 2

  • Managing Buyer + Supplier Relationships: An Honest Conversation

  • Insure Your Success: Liability Insurance for any Scale

2:45 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. - NETWORKING BREAK

3:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. BREAKOUT SESSION 3

  • Grow Local: Arizona Resource Fair

  • Diversify Your Revenue Stream with Agritourism

  • Farm to School Round Table: a Lay of the Land

Wednesday, May 1: Day 2

8:45 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. - WELCOME from Katie Critchley, The Farm at Agritopia

9:00 a.m. - 9:45 a.m. - KEYNOTE from Steve Sossaman

Say “Yes!” to New Opportunities

Agriculture in Maricopa County has undergone tremendous change over the last four generations, as the Sossaman Family knows. Steve will speak to the evolution of his farm, family food businesses, and ability to reinvest in his community by saying “yes!” to new relationships and opportunities. Hear the lessons he’s learned to help him become one of Arizona’s best-known agriculturalists in modern markets.

9:45 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. - NETWORKING BREAK

10:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. - BREAKOUT SESSION 4

  • Working Together to Create the City of Phoenix 2025 Food Action Plan

  • Get the Picture Straight: Food Photography for All

  • Coping with Water Restrictions: Low Water Use Farming Tehnologies

11:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. - NETWORKING BREAK

11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. - BREAKOUT SESSION 5

  • Entering the Highway of Food Safety

  • Consumer Research for Product Development

  • Funding Pathways for Growing Farms & Food Businesses

12:45 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. - Local Lunch on Your Own

  • Lunch & Learn: Indigenous & Heritage Foods Tasting with Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture

    Want to be a part of the movement to revitalize the crops that are adapted to our extreme environment, thrive in hot summers and are nutritious and healthy plus beneficial to the farmer? Join the Farm at Agritopia and Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture for a hands-on workshop on planting and cultivating Sonoran Desert crops, including free seeds, tips and a tasting.

1:45 P.M. - 3:00 p.m. - BREAKOUT SESSION 6

  • From Dirt to Gold: Starting a Farm from Scratch

  • Succession Planning & Building Community Wealth

  • Baskets to Pallets: Dos and Don’ts from Wholesale Buyers


Join us on the East Patio for a raffle and libations from this local-food sourcing champion, just 15 minutes northwest of Agritopia. All ages welcome! Appetizers are on the house with a cash bar.




Getting in The Business of Heritage Foods

  • Velvet Button, Ramona Farms

  • Noland Johnson, Alexander Pancho Memorial Farm / Desert Rain Café

  • Tamara Stanger, Cotton & Copper

  • Jonathan Netzky, Local Alternative Inc. & Real Vegetable Meat

  • Nina Sajovec, Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture

    Join this panel of farmers, chefs and food entrepreneurs to discover why and how you should include heirloom crops or foods into your business. The panel will address the issues of sourcing, cost management, product development, advertisement, as well as larger issues of food heritage, cultural appropriation, taste of place (terroir) and corporate responsibility.

Eat With yOur Eyes First: Growing Your Brand

  • Melanie Albert, Experience Nutrition

    In this workshop, participants will begin to identify their unique brand, learn tools to achieve consistency in presentation for marketing, and practice plating fresh fruits and vegetables. Improve your ability to present food for your at-home marketing efforts, draw customers in with their eyes by presenting beautiful samples at a Farmers Market booth, and wow your potential wholesale customers.

rooted in research: the next generation of food acess

  • Elyse Guidas, Farm Express

  • Christopher Wharton, Arizona State University

  • May Abraham, Best Farmers Market

  • Chef Krystal Harris, Spaces of Opportunity

    Efforts to increase food security in rural and urban communities in Arizona have evolved from setting blanket goals of doubling the number of farmers markets, to taking place-based and people-driven approaches to meet each community’s needs. Learn from three models that are working here at home: a mobile grocer, a brick and mortar retailer, and a local farm, and explore the research regarding the most effective ways to improve a community’s access to healthy food.


Managing Buyer + Supplier Relationships: An Honest Conversation

  • Courtney Boyer, Duncan Family Farms

  • Paul Cordero, Duncan Family Farms

    There is inherent difficulty in managing a perishable goods supply chain. It's risky for all sides, and everyone has a lot on the line, leading to broken promises and strained relationships. This interactive conversation and workshop is geared toward everyone who makes a sale or buys a product: folks who crop plan together, negotiate up-front contracts, or who make the once-per-month order. Together as suppliers, growers, and buyers, we will explore the unique opportunities in local supply chains for strong supply chains and healthy relationships.

Insure Your Success: Liability Insurance for any Scale

  • Matthew Schmidbauer, Farm Bureau Financial Services

  • David DeLorenzo, Bar & Restaurant Insurance

    As a farm or food business owner, your livelihood isn’t exactly a 9-to-5 job, and your "office" doesn't fit the norm. When a homeowners policy just won’t provide the protection you need, what do you need to know and how do you find the best options for you? Learn from these farm and food-business centric agents who understand the unique risks, challenges, and opportunities that exist for insuring your success in Arizona.


Grow Local: Arizona Resource Fair

  • WeCare Denali

  • Arizona Worm Farm

  • Courtesy Fleet

  • AZ Natural Resource Conservation Services

  • Sun Produce Cooperative

  • Local First Arizona Community Kitchen

  • Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance (participating remotely)

    Purchasing from locally owned businesses in Arizona keeps up to 4 times more money in our state’s economy. By sourcing your farm implements and technical assistance locally, you help perpetuate the market that will, in turn, support you. Hear rapid-fire presentations and speak directly with a handful of local suppliers, resources, and partners to help you grow your food business and cultivate prosperity.

Diversify Your Revenue Stream with Agritourism

  • Joyce & John Bittner, Fossil Creek Creamery

    Understand the benefits of diversifying your revenue stream and identifying opportunities for income generation in the off-season. Learn the dos, don'ts, and common pitfalls of incorporating agritourism component into your farm or food operations.

Farm to School Round table: a Lay of the Land

  • Patty Emmert, Duncan Family Farms and Slow Food Phoenix/Blue Watermelon

  • Maya Dailey, Sun Produce Cooperative

  • Jilliann Feltham, Arizona Farm to School Network & Osborn School District

  • David Schwake, Retired from Litchfield Elementary School District

  • Marina Acosta, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension

  • Benten Anders, Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona

  • Sharma Torrens, Arizona Department of Agriculture

Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early care and education sites. From local procurement to educational initiatives, Arizona is stepping up its game. Join this fishbowl roundtable to meet the local champions of this work, and get a lay of the land of existing efforts.


working together to create the City of Phoenix 2025 Food Action Plan

  • Rosanne Albright, Environmental Programs Coordinator | City Manager’s Office, Office of Environmental Programs

  • Vania Fletcher, Planner | Planning & Development

  • Joseph Rossell, Project Manager | Public Works & Community & Economic Development

  • Grant Belter, Program Manager | Community & Economic Development Department

  • Stacey Hettmansperger, Operations Manager | Public Works

    The City of Phoenix established a 2050 Local Food System goal to maintain a healthy, sustainable, equitable, and thriving food system. Phoenix is preparing a Food Action Plan that will include strategies to move toward that goal with specific actions for 2025. Join us and share your thoughts, ideas, and challenges for growing a successful farm and food business in Maricopa County. Let’s co-create a plan that provides healthy food and cultivates prosperity for all.

Get the Picture Straight: Food Photography for All

  • Lauren Saria, AZ Central

  • Debby Wolvos, DW Photography

Attendees will learn some basics for food photography. As seen through the lens of social media, instructors will offer tips and tricks from staging to lighting for using your smart phones to snap that photo and capture that sale. In this interactive workshop, attendees should bring a functional smartphone with the ability to take photos, connect to the internet, and post to a social media platform of their choice.


  • Ed Martin, Maricopa County Cooperative Extension

If you're swarming with questions about how the Drought Contingency Plan and the looming threat of water restrictions will affect your ability to grow food and support your livelihood, rest assured you’re not alone. Join this session to learn about low-water use farming and gardening techniques that can be incorporated to help your operations stay afloat for generations to come.


Entering the Highway of Food Safety

  • Kelley Villa, Pinnacle Prevention

  • Stewart Jacobson, Arizona Department of Agriculture

  • Norman Barnett, Arizona Department of Agriculture

If food safety is like a highway, where are you? Going full speed ahead – or still at home, planning your route? In this interactive workshop, Pinnacle Prevention will introduce a new series of tiered food safety trainings, taking a peer-to-peer approach to identifying and managing good safety risks on small-scale fruit and vegetable farms. These trainings are not part of an audit or regulation, but rather the first step in exploring, understanding, and addressing farm-based food safety risks. Participants will also create a Farm Map to take home. The session will also feature representatives from the Arizona Department of Agriculture to speak to the expectations and processes for GHP/GAP certifications and impacts of the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule.

Improve Your Product with Consumer Research

  • Rena Shifren, ProSense Consumer Research Center

With so many elements affecting how people experience products, services and brands, it is often difficult to know what your customers need or want - and how that can affect your business. Having a road map to navigate the complex world of consumers perceptions can make your development and marketing efforts more strategic and profitable. Learn how consumer research can be adapted to meet your particular food marketing, development, and budgetary needs.

Funding pathways for growing farms & food businesses

  • Rachel Burgoyne, Accion

  • Colton Hernandez, Farm Service Agency

  • Shawneen Stevenson, Farm Service Agency

  • Kimber Lanning, Local First Arizona Foundation

    In this panel, attendees will learn about a variety of ways to think to seek capital for beginning or growing a food business, paying special attention to low-interest and small business loan opportunities. We all know the process can be daunting and paper-intensive, but there are committed people to help you through the process. Join to learn of local examples of success, ask what it takes to become an eligible applicant, and begin identifying your own opportunities.


Growing soul and good food on the desert floor: Starting a Farm from Scratch

  • Mark Rhine, Rhiba Farms

    Starting a small, diverse, biointensive farm from scratch can be daunting, but it is possible! Connect with and learn from local farmer on how he went from a vacant, blighted lot to growing a wide variety of Certified Organic and GHP/GAP approved produce in just two years, now distributed through farmers markets, online ordering, and direct to restaurants.

Succession Planning & Building Community Wealth through employee ownership

  • Dennis Mahoney, 47 Ranch / Cross U Cattle Co.

  • Ilse Rojas PhD, Apex Applied Technology, Inc.

  • Kevin Fort, Regenerative Business Institute

    There are general principles and proven practices to alleviate stress and face the challenges of succession planning with hope, optimism, and renewed enthusiasm. Join Dennis Moroney of 47 Ranch, Kevin Fort of Regenerative Business Institute, and Ilse Rojas of Apex Applied Technology, Inc. as they talk transitioning to employee ownership.

Baskets to Pallets: Dos and Don’ts from Wholesale Buyers

  • Katie Critchley, The Farm Store at Agritopia

  • Patrick Kehler, Aventura Catering at the Phoenix Convention Center

  • Patti Marrs, The Orme School

  • Emily Bell, Local First Arizona Foundation

    Grocers, chefs, and retailers are feeling the pressure to add local foods to their shelves and menus, but what does it take to get your product into their offerings? Hear from three local buyers about their expectations and needs when bringing on new purveyors.


Suggestions for luNCH ON YOUR OWN



Organic eatery serving plant-centric, local-focused, and seasonal cuisine.

fire and brimstone

Bold and hearty wood-fired cuisine specializing in pizza, sandwiches, and salads.


Joe’s Farm Grill

Common food done uncommonly well.

the coffee shop

Airy cafe with full espresso bar and hearty breakfast and lunch dishes.


Liberty Market

Award-winning local restaurant offering hand-crafted American cuisine, espresso bar, and craft beverages.

higley hot dog hut

Long-standing local hot dog hut with all the delicious hot dog toppings you could ask for.

joe's real bbq

Real BBQ slow-cooked over pecan wood and served with a side of genuine hospitality.

arizona bbq company

Traditional BBQ with an Arizona kick that is locally grown and locally sourced.


AZ Wilderness brewing co

Naturalism and conservation are central tenets of this brewery.

backyard taco

Serving up mesquite-grilled scrumptious tacos to friends and neighbors since 2005.



Topo serves up seriously delicious take-away foods for a quick meal or a leisurely stroll in Gilbert’s Heritage District

talew thai bistro

Family-owned bistro serving creative and authentic Thai dishes with vegetarian and gluten-free options available.


Clever Koi

An Asian-inspired kitchen & craft cocktail bar.

ARIZONA Food & Farm Forum

April 30 & May 1, 2019
The Farm at Agritopia  |  gilbert, arizona