From hoop house construction to digital marketing, and from drip irrigation to classroom agriculture, there is much to learn about at this year’s New Mexico Organic Farming Conference Feb. 16-17 in Albuquerque. Held at the Marriott Albuquerque Pyramid North at 5151 San Francisco Road, the conference kicks off at 7 a.m. Friday, Feb. 16 and wraps up at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17.

Other topics include: water, soils, pollinators, livestock disease, root crops, seeds grains, natural resources, worker safety, hay, meat/specialty processing, enterprise analysis, pruning, water harvesting, carbon farming, organic importing, pastured poultry, greenhouse construction, tomato grafting, compost, farm diversification, berry/small fruit, cover crops, microscopes, Pueblo agriculture, American-grown slow flower movement and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.

“There is so much to offer at this year’s conference, and we hope many people in the industry understand the value of the event and take advantage of this opportunity to learn and grow,” said conference facilitator Sage Faulkner. “We are also offering networking sessions to help facilitate learning opportunities and potential collaborations.”

In addition to Faulkner, conference organizers include the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service and Walking Trout Farm.

Steve Ela is the keynote speaker during Saturday’s lunch. He is the manager of Ela Family Farms and Silver Spruce Orchards, which is a 100-acre, organic family fruit farm in Hotchkiss, Colorado. Ela began the transition to organic production in 1994, and the farm is currently 100 percent certified organic. He is a fourth-generation grower, and current crops include peaches, apples, pears, sweet cherries, plums and heirloom tomatoes. The farm currently processes jams, fruit butters, apple sauces, cider and dried fruit.

Ela received a bachelor of science in both biology and environmental geology from Beloit College and a master of science in soil science with a minor in water resources from the University of Minnesota. He is part of numerous organizations, including the National Organic Standards Board and Valley Organic Growers Association. He was president of the Organic Farming Research Foundation for five years. He helped organize and coordinate the Rogers Mesa Area Wide Codling Moth Management Project, which was sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture. He also helped organize the Colorado Organic Crop Management Association to promote organic tree fruit research.

The fee for both days with lunch (for the first 650 participants) is $110, and the fee for one day is $70. Special rates are offered to student groups. Registration is available at For more information about the conference, visit or contact Sage Faulkner at 505-490-2822 or