Organic Farmer, Activist, and Author to Keynote Ohio’s Largest Food and Farming Conference

Lauren Ketcham's picture
Organic farmer, consultant, activist, and author Atina Diffley will be the featured keynote speaker at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 35th annual conference, Affirming Our Roots, Breaking New Ground, on Saturday, February 15 in Granville. She will also lead a pre-conference about wholesale marketing for produce growers on Friday, February 14.
“We are excited to bring Atina to the conference,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA’s program director and the event’s lead organizer. “Her years of organic produce farming and marketing, and her experience dealing with sprawl and land ownership issues will inspire and deliver a wealth of information.”
Diffley will speak as part of the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, an event which draws more than 1,200 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest. In addition to Diffley, this year’s conference will feature former Deputy Secretary of the USDA Kathleen Merrigan as keynote speaker on Sunday, February 16; more than 100 educational workshops; two in-depth pre-conference workshops on Friday, February 14; a trade show; activities for children and teens; locally-sourced and organic homemade meals, and Saturday evening entertainment.
Diffley and her husband, Martin, operated Gardens of Eagan in Eagan, Minnesota, one of the Midwest’s first certified organic produce farms, and now provide consulting through their business, Organic Farming Works.
She is a co-editor of Wholesale Success: A Farmer's Guide to Food Safety, Post-Harvest Handling, Packing, and Selling Produce, a publication of, and is their lead trainer on food safety, post-harvest handling, and wholesale marketing issues.
Diffley's autobiographical memoir, Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works, which received the Minnesota Book Award in 2013, has been described as a “master class in farming, a lesson in entrepreneurship, a love story, and a legal thriller.” The book explores the Diffleys' unbreakable commitment to their land, the impacts of suburban sprawl and pipeline development in their community, and the struggles and triumphs that farmers face every day.
Diffley was named Successful Farmer of the Year in 2008 by EcoFarm and Organic Farmer of the Year in 2004 by the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). She currently serves on the board for the Organic Seed Alliance and the Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture.
Her keynote address, “Farmers as Role Models and Leaders: Protecting Nature and Creating Social Change,” will take place on Saturday, February 15 at 4 p.m. She will explore how farmers are the crucial link between the land and the people who take their nourishment from the land. Diffley will argue that as stewards of the soil and water, farmers can be powerful advocates for the environment. She will discuss how farmers can help role model, educate, and lead in order to protect nature and create social change.
On Saturday, February 15 at 9:30 a.m., Diffley will lead a one hour workshop, “Engaging in Policy to Protect Organic Farms.” She will describe how she led a successful legal and citizen campaign against Koch Industries to reroute a crude oil pipeline to protect organic farmland and create an Organic Mitigation Plan.
Of that experience, Diffley told The Mix, “Courage came from the responsibility to protect the land and nature. After all it has given us, it was the least we could do. Nature should have legal rights of its own, but it doesn’t—to protect nature in our courts of law we’re required to show a loss to humans, so humans have to stand up and speak for it.” She continued, “We accomplish so much more when we stand together. It is crucial that citizens engage in policy and politics, talk to legislators, speak up, and reclaim their power… Eat, educate and engage in policy—as if the Earth matters—because it does.”
The OEFFA conference will be held at Granville Middle and High schools, 248 New Burg St. in Granville.  For more information about the conference, or to register, go to
On Friday, Diffley will lead a pre-conference workshop, “Wholesale Marketing for Fresh Produce Growers,” designed to help farmers take their business to the next level by selling to retailers, wholesalers, and institutions.  The workshop will cover the advantages and disadvantages of wholesale marketing; the characteristics and needs of different wholesale markets; good practices for satisfying buyers; grading, pricing, and packaging products; brand name marketing; establishing contracts; shipping options; sequential crop planning skills; food safety, and more.
The pre-conference workshop will be held from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Granville Inn, 314 E. Broadway in Granville, Ohio. Pre-registration is required and costs $60 for members and $70 for non-members.

Our Sponsors
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Northstar Café/Third and Hollywood, UNFI Foundation, Granville Exempted Village Schools, Mustard Seed Market and Café, Northridge Organic Farm, Organic Valley, Snowville Creamery, Whole Foods Market Columbus, Albert Lea Seed Company, Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese, Casa Nueva, Earth Tools, Eban Bakery, Edible Cleveland, Green BEAN Delivery, Green Field Farms, Lucky Cat Bakery, OSU School of Environment and Natural Resources, Raisin Rack Natural Food Market, Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, Swainway Urban Farm, Andelain Fields, Curly Tail Organic Farm, C-TEC of Licking County, DNO Produce, Eden Foods, Glass Rooster Cannery, King Family Farm, Law Office of David G. Cox, Metro Cuisine, Two Caterers, Whole Hog BBQ, Around the World Gourmet, Bad Dog Acres, Bexley Natural Market, Bird’s Haven Farms, Bluebird Farm, Carriage House Farm, Charlie’s Apples at Windy Hill Farm, Fedco Seeds, Flying J Farm, Hartzler Dairy Farm, The Hills Market, Marshy Meadows Farm, Middlefield Original Cheese, Nourse Farms, Pâtisserie Lallier, Schmidt Family Farms, Stonyfield Farm, Sunsprout Farms of Central Ohio, and Wayward Seed Farm.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a state-wide, grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters working together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to

Conference Registration
To register or for more information about the conference, including maps, directions, featured presenters and workshops, pre-conference descriptions, workshop listings, hotel options, and a schedule, go to For additional questions, contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or Past conferences have sold out in advance, so early registration is encouraged to avoid disappointment.

Artwork and Images
For the conference art image, speaker photographs, or pictures from past conferences, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or

Press Passes and Media Inquiries
OEFFA offers a limited number of press passes to members of the media who would like to attend conference and pre-conference events. We can also help members of the press schedule interviews with keynote speakers and workshop presenters. To arrange an interview or request a press pass, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or

Event Calendar and Public Service Announcement
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association's (OEFFA) 35th annual conference, Affirming Our Roots, Breaking New Ground, is February 15-16, 2014 in Granville, Ohio. This is Ohio’s largest sustainable agriculture conference and will feature keynote speakers Kathleen Merrigan and Atina Diffley; more than 100 workshops on sustainable farming, gardening, and homesteading; local and organic meals; a kids’ conference, teen conference, and childcare; a trade show; Saturday evening entertainment, and pre-conference events on produce wholesale marketing and soil health and biodiversity on Friday, February 14. To register, or for more information, go to or call (614) 421-2022.

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Wow! She had great

nicoleallenB's picture

Wow! She had great achievements in terms of organic farming. It is really healthy and environment friendly practice to do organic farming. This can prevent cancer.