COVID-19 Resources for Farmers & Markets

Submit your session proposals

Our call for proposals for our 2021 Conference is now closed.

Join our email list to get notified when our call for proposals opens next year.


Though there remains much uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, what we know without a doubt is this: Farmers are facing unprecedented challenges, and the need for exploring best practices, sharing lessons learned, and connecting with their peers will be greater than ever. That’s why we are committed to hosting our annual conference in 2021. 


Format

Depending on how the pandemic mitigation efforts progress over the next several months, there are two possible scenarios for our 2021 Conference:

  • IN-PERSON: If we are confident early enough in the planning process that gathering in large groups will be deemed safe according to public health guidelines, the conference will be held February 3–6, 2021 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania at the Lancaster County Convention Center.
  • VIRTUAL: There’s a real possibility we will need to transition to hosting a virtual conference. If we do need to go virtual, we would adjust the conference dates to allow it to take place over an extended period of time, rather than condensed into four days. We would work with accepted proposals to build the schedule over that longer period of time.

Through the proposal process, you will be able to indicate if your session(s) can:

  • only be offered in person
  • be offered either in person or virtually
  • only be offered virtually

Goals

Our annual conference draws a diverse audience of farmers, food system professionals, educators, and gardeners for intensive learning on more than 100 sustainable food and farming topics.

Our overarching goals for the conference are to:

  • Provide training and education that promote the environmental, economic, and social wellbeing of farms, the food system, and communities.
  • Serve as an outlet for sharing cutting-edge research and science-based solutions, while preserving and passing on traditional farming knowledge and heritage.
  • Be a venue where people, businesses, and organizations from across the sustainable agriculture movement make meaningful connections.
  • Embrace an inclusive definition of sustainability, which accepts a diversity of methods and philosophies.

Timeline

DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING PROPOSALS FINAL NOTIFICATION OF PROPOSAL STATUS
June 15, 2020  September 16, 2020

Note: We evaluate full- and half-day session proposals on a rolling basis. Consider proposing longer sessions early as we aim to confirm them by early June.


Digging deeper

The greatest strength of our educational program is its responsiveness to timely and highly relevant food system topics. Our staff and conference planning committee have identified topics that we want to explore more deeply at the 2021 Conference.

If you are submitting a proposal under one of these topics, please find a focused way to address it, such as tackling a specific question that relates to it, addressing the broader topic for a narrow audience, or using case studies, panels, and personal stories to relate an aspect of the topic to your experience.

DIGGING DEEPER TOPICS
  • Adapting to the changing marketplace, including technology, cooperative solutions, and messaging
  • Building equity, justice, and social regeneration in the food system
  • Building resilience through income diversification strategies
  • Building resilience through self-sufficiency at the farmstead and community scale
  • Celebrating 30 years of PASA through reflecting on the past as well as looking forward to the next 30 years
  •  Crisis response and contingency planning (environmental, social, economic, etc.)
  • Filling the gaps in the sustainable food system (labor, retiring farmers, medium-sized farms, etc.)
  • Growing and strengthening the organic farming industry
  • Practical strategies for adapting to and mitigating climate change
  • Strategies for farms to protect and preserve ecosystem services (pollinators, wildlife, water quality, etc.) and market that as a service farms can provide to the larger community

Lengths of sessions

We offer several lengths of sessions. Full-day sessions, which are seven hours, will be scheduled on Wednesday (February 3) only. The rest of the sessions will be scheduled on Thursday–Saturday (February 4–6).

IF OUR CONFERENCE GOES VIRTUAL:The dates of our conference would shift to be spread out over more time. We would likely adapt full- and half-day sessions into a series of multiple sessions over several days. We would do a combination of pre-recorded and live sessions.

Full day (7 hours): Full-day sessions should focus on a specific topic, and use the time to explore it in depth with the attendees. The agenda can include one or multiple presenters; however, we prefer to have no more than four presenters. The proposal will require a draft agenda.

Half day (3 ½ hours): Half-day sessions should take an in-depth look at a specific topic. They can include one or multiple presenters; however, we prefer to have no more than three presenters. The proposal will require a draft agenda.

Standard (90 minutes): The majority of our sessions will be 90 minutes, which allows time either to provide an overview of a broad topic, or to focus on a very narrow subject. These are a good format for lectures, panel discussions, and facilitated group work. They also work well for a short presentation combined with other formats. They typically include one to two presenters. For panels, we prefer to limit it to three presenters (in some cases, a pair of speakers can count as one presenter), plus a facilitator. We also enjoy hosting more informal sessions through clinics (group case studies and consultations led by one or several experts) and learning circles (lightly moderated group discussions organized around a theme).

Note: Trade show stage programming will be arranged separately from this proposal process. If you are interested in presenting in the trade show for up to 20 minutes about a product or project, please contact Kristin Hoy directly at kristin@pasafarming.org.


Conference audiences

Approximately 50 percent of conference attendees are current farmers—over half of whom have farmed for eight or more years—and over 80 percent of attendees grow agricultural products in some way.

Considering this, we strive to focus much of the conference programming on farm production, business, and marketing topics; however, we also seek to cover a broad range of issues relevant to the sustainable agriculture movement. 

We are seeking programming that meets the needs and interests of the following groups: We will organize our programming under the following themes:
  • Agriculture & food system educators
  • Agriculture & food system professionals
  • Aspiring & beginning farmers
  • Experienced farmers
  • Homesteaders & gardeners
  • Intermediate farmers
  • Sustainable food system advocates
  • Urban farmers
  • Animal husbandry (dairy, meat, fiber & more)
  • Annual horticultural crops (vegetables, flowers & more)
  • Business, finances & entrepreneurship
  • Essential farming skills
  • Markets & marketing
  • Perennial horticultural crops (fruits, nuts & more)
  • Policy & community
  • Row crops (grains, legumes, and more)
  • Soil & ecosystem health
  • Value-added & beyond

Compensation

As a nonprofit education organization, we try to stretch our budget as far as possible to maximize the impact of our program. We also understand that some speakers may need additional support to participate in our conference. You will have the opportunity on the proposal to share your needs. Below are some guidelines regarding compensation.

All speakers: For an in-person event, we offer complimentary registration to our speakers for as much of the conference as they would like to attend. We have not yet determined what complimentary registration we would offer for a virtual event.

[In-person event] All speakers are offered lunch and free parking on the day(s) they speak. For speakers who travel more than 50 miles one way, we will consider requests to cover travel costs. We can also provide one night of lodging per day of speaking. All speakers are responsible for booking their own lodging, within the PASA block at the Lancaster Marriott, and using the appropriate method of alerting PASA of reservation details. Please note that we cannot provide this support for speakers who will attend with a company that is sponsoring or exhibiting. 

Limited funding is available to cover speaker requests beyond our standard compensation. We are a nonprofit organization and we ask presenters to consider this when making requests. We are willing to consider non-traditional requests. Waived speaker costs can be credited towards sponsorship, trade show, or advertising costs, but these arrangements must be negotiated when your business pledges the sponsorship/trade show/advertising support.


Selection process

We work with a volunteer committee to assemble conference programming that reflects and meets the needs of our diverse audiences. We evaluate proposals using the following criteria:

  • Consistency with our organizational mission to build a more economically-just, environmentally-regenerative, and community-focused food system
  • Alignment with our conference goals (outlined above)
  • Expertise and experience of presenter(s)
  • Relevance of topic to our audience

Submission instructions

Thank you for your interest in our conference! You’re welcome to contact us for feedback on your ideas prior to submission. Please contact Kristin Hoy at kristin@pasafarming.org or 814-349-9856 x 705.

Click the button below to submit your proposal(s) using our online form. You will be able to save your progress in the form. Upon submission, the primary contact will receive a copy of the response. To submit multiple proposals, you will need to complete the form once for each proposal.

200+ speakers on 100+ topics

Our conference speakers are a diverse group of farmers, food system professionals, researchers, educators, artists, authors, chefs, food entrepreneurs, farmers market managers, and more! What they share is their passion for building a more sustainable and more equitable food system.