WHITING Farmers, ranchers, community food organizers, wildlife enthusiasts, landowners and others interested in farming practices and our local food system will want to reserve Nov. 2, for a day of workshops and networking at the Kansas Rural Center's 2013 Farming and Food Conference

This daylong event will take place in Newton at the Meridian Center, 1420 E. Broadway Ct., and feature opportunities to learn about topics such as low-input farming alternatives, diversification for risk management, soil and animal health, local foods development, health-agriculture connections, beginning farmer and rancher resources, farm legacy transitions for landowners, state and federal farm and food policy, and much more.

This conference is an annual event presented by the Kansas Rural Center, in partnership with organizations including the Kansas Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Alternative Crops and Kansas Sustainable Agriculture Research & Extension.

Companies and organizations interested in reaching attendees from across the farming and food spectrum including family farmers, ranchers, conservationists, wildlife advocates, food activists, chefs, health practitioners and more can sign up for Expo sponsorship at an early bird rate of $200 until Aug. 30, when the rate will rise to $250. Exhibitors will receive listing on the conference program, a link from the conference page on the KRC website, and an opportunity to provide materials to attendees. In addition, a limited number of booth spaces are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

A formal announcement with keynote speaker information, the day's agenda, and registration information is expected in early September.

KRC's previous conference, held in 2011, focused on topics related to the theme, "Options, Opportunities and Optimism: Cultivating Our Farm and Food Future," and featured workshops on grazing, soil health, value-added foods marketing, food policy councils and community food organizing, and more. More information about that conference is available at http://krcsustainabilityconference.blogspot.com/; conference presentations are available at kansasruralcenter.org.

In 2012, KRC presented the Healthy Farms, Healthy People, Agriculture and Health Summit, which launched a dialogue in Kansas about issues surrounding the intersections of health, public health, food and agriculture. Farmers, ranchers, health professionals, grocers, chefs, school and government officials were among those who attended. The Summit was supported by the National Network of Public Health Institutes and Centers for Disease Control, and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation. The Kansas Rural Center 2013 Farm and Food Conference will follow up on some of the conversations initiated at last year's event.

Expo exhibitor spaces can be reserved by contacting Executive Director Julie Mettenburg at (785) 393-9996, or email juliemettenburg@gmail.com. Additional conference details will be released as they develop and can be found by visiting http://www.kansasruralcenter.org, or by contacting Event Coordinator Natalie Fullerton at nfullerton@kansasruralcenter.org, or (402) 310-0177.