Speaker Biographies

Bringing Back the American Small Farm Conference

Joel Salatin57, is a full-time farmer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. A third generation alternative farmer, he returned to the farm full-time in 1982 and continued refining and adding to his parents’ ideas.

The farm services more than 5,000 families, 10 retail outlets, and 50 restaurants through on-farm sales and metropolitan buying clubs with salad bar beef, pastured poultry, eggmobile eggs, pigaerator pork, forage-based rabbits, pastured turkey and forestry products using relationship marketing.

He holds a BA degree in English and writes extensively in magazines such as STOCKMAN GRASS FARMER, ACRES USA, and FOODSHED.

The family’s farm, Polyface Inc. (“The Farm of Many Faces”) has been featured in SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, GOURMET and countless other radio,television and print media. Profiled on the Lives of the 21st Century series with Peter Jennings on ABC World News, his after-broadcast chat room fielded more hits than any other segment to date. It achieved iconic status as the grass farm featured in the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA by food writer guru Michael Pollan and the award-winning film documentary, FOOD INC.

A sought-after conference speaker, he addresses a wide range of issues, from “creating the farm your children will want” to “making a white collar salary from a pleasant life in the country.” A wordsmith, he describes his occupation as “mob-stocking hervbivorous solar conversion lignified carbon sequestration fertilization.” His humorous and conviction-based speeches are akin to theatrical performances, often receiving standing ovations.

He has authored nine books, five of them how-to types:

His speaking and writing reflect dirt-under-the-fingernails experience punctuated with mischievous humor. He passionately defends small farms, local food systems, and the right to opt out of the conventional food paradigm. Four generations of his family currently live and work on the farm.

Sheri Salatin is the marketing director at Polyface Farm and stay-at-home mom of three children. Sheri is passionate about clean food and enjoys working the land alongside her husband, Daniel.

Daniel Salatin is the son of Joel Salatin, innovative farmer, writer and speaker. As the third generation on Polyface farm in Swoope, Virginia, he has grown up in the family business. 

John Arbuckle has been raising pasture based pigs in La Plata MO for about 8 years. His focus has been in conducting on farm research to see how much grass a pig can eat. Previous experience in agriculture includes helping to run a 10 acre organic vegetable CSA. John grew up on a family farm in Illinois where they produced Beef cattle, hogs, corn and soy beans.

Drexel Atkisson, was raised on a beef farm in Dade County, Missouri where he and his family continue to operate a beef operation. After receiving a degree in Agronomy, Drexel began work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in 1992. In 2010 a Soil Health workshop sparked a new passion that has grown ever since. Drexel began to work with producers to change the way they operated their land. Believing that we must produce food and fiber with less inputs in a more sustainable way, it has become his mission to help others adopt the key principles of soil health. In May of 2017 Drexel accepted a new position with NRCS as Area Soil Health Specialist. This position has allowed him to pursue his passion to improve soil health in Southwest Missouri.

Matthew Burnett
 is thankful to be a blacksmith. I have been blacksmithing for 15 years now. I first observed blacksmiths at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival in 2002. I was immediately intrigued by it. That November, at age 13, I took a beginners course from them to learn basic blacksmithing skills. I can still remember the excitement of that first class. I did not realize at the time that I had taken the first step in a long and interesting journey. I was fascinated by the whole process, and started collecting the required tools and began blacksmithing on my own shortly thereafter.  

I joined the Blacksmith Association of Missouri (BAM) in 2003 and have been active ever since. BAM has been very important in my development. There are many members of BAM who have generously shared their time and knowledge, in formal classes, and at demonstrations. I am very thankful for their teaching and friendship. I have also taken classes at the Ozark School of Blacksmithing, and the New England School of Metalwork. I’m glad that I can teach others now. I work primarily in my own shop, but have demonstrated with other blacksmiths at the Missouri State Fair, the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, and at various shows at Cameron, Hamilton, Lathrop, Excelsior Springs, and Chillicothe, for the public, as well as several BAM meetings. I was a featured demonstrator at the 2017 BAM Conference. I opened the Missouri School of Blacksmithing in 2016, because I saw a need for it. I try to approach my classes and teaching from the perspective of what I would like to learn as a student. I look back to how I learned, and I ask myself the question “What would be the best way to learn, and become a better blacksmith?” I try to think about what I would like to learn, or like to make. I emphasize traditional joinery in my work, studying design and balancing form and function. I think that the variety of my experiences and interests in blacksmithing; i.e. making tools, knives, furniture and sculptures, gives me a fairly broad perspective from which to draw from in teaching, as opposed to specializing on 1 or 2 areas. I have mastered blacksmithing but also see it as a continuing process of learning and discovery. I have enjoyed the journey so far, and I look forward to continued exploration.

Patrick Byers is Regional Horticulture Specialist with the Webster County office of University of Missouri Extension, serving 9 counties in southwest Missouri. His educational background includes degrees from the University of Nebraska, University of Missouri, and University of Arkansas, all in horticulture. Job experience includes 3 years at the UA Fruit Substation, 18 years as Fruit Grower Advisor at the MSU State Fruit Experiment Station, and 9 years in his present position. Current job responsibilities include advisement to fruit and vegetable farmers, soil test evaluation, pest identification and management, and research into innovative ways to achieve profitability. A native of Nebraska, Patrick and his family reside on a farm near Fordland, Missouri, where they raise elderberries and plan to install a high tunnel. Patrick has a passion for unusual fruits and vegetables.

Corinne Collins
is a beekeeper that resides in Chesterfield, MO with her husband Jim. Corinne’s love for nature and all things natural inspired her to inquire about beekeeping when her Sister-in-Law brought a couple of her hives out to their property . Seven years ago she acquired her first hives in Chesterfield, MO. She is a member of the Missouri State Beekeepers Association and the Eastern Missouri Beekeepers. Her entries at the Missouri State Fair have been award winning Honey, Creamed Honey and Comb Honey along with her Beeswax Art and Beeswax Candles. She makes the best use of everything her Chesterfield bees produce. Corinne’s Honey Farm, offers skin care products concocted from her own beeswax, honey and numerous other bounties of nature as well as handcrafted soaps and lotions.

Sarah Denkler Horticulture Specialist, works in commercial horticulture, community food systems, general home horticulture, ornamentals, integrated pest management, organic gardening, soil fertility and conservation, insect/ weed and diseases management for the University of Missouri Extension. Yearly program highlights include horticulture education for those in Strikeforce counties, education and activities for the Agriculture and Natural Resources Exposition and the coordination and delivery of the annual watermelon meeting.

Patrice Gros
 runs Foundation Farm, a 6 acre USDA certified organic farm in the Arkansas Ozarks just north of Eureka Springs. Over the last 20 years, he has progressed towards a full no-till (machine-free) system which produces high yields and profits. On 1/2 of an acre of actual cultivated ground, his yearly production exceeds $80,000. Crops are grown continuously through the seasons outdoors and inside high tunnels. All produce harvested yearly is sold within a 50 mile radius, with zero waste. 

Patrice also trains farmers and gardeners in the field and through workshops and lectures. Over 50 trainees have gone through the farming school program and several have started their own farm.

Kim Harrison, CEO and Co-Founder of 2BuyAg, focuses much of her time on helping farmers market their products. Started in 2017, 2BuyAg is an online community and marketplace for farmers and food buyers to sell and buy locally and regionally produced food. Kim brings over 30 years of experience in cattle and sheep farming, distribution, and direct marketing to help farmers and food buyers on 2BuyAg more easily connect and communicate. Kim and her husband, John, raise and niche market grass-fed beef and lamb. Their farm, Harrison Valley Farms, is in central Missouri. Kim graduated from the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources with a BS degree is in Agriculture Journalism. After graduation, Kim joined her parents printing, direct mailing, and distribution company, Direct Impaqt. There she spent 34 years managing all the data management, mail processing, and distribution services the company offered. Kim writes weekly blogs for 2BuyAg on marketing and other areas of interest for farmers and food buyers.

Jill Henderson is an author, lifelong organic gardener, wildcrafter, and backwoods herbalist specializing in wild edible and medicinal plants and culinary herbs.  She is a feature columnist for the eco-agriculture magazine, Acres USA, and a regular contributor to Llewellyn’s Herbal Almanac.  Her articles and talks have been featured online and in print magazines such as the Permaculture Activist, Permaculture Design, and The Essential Herbal.  She is the author of three books: The Healing Power of Kitchen Herbs, A Journey of Seasons, and The Garden Seed Saving Guide.  In 2014, Jill founded Share the Seed, a non-profit project through which local gardeners grow and distribute garden seed for those in need.  In 2015, the group distributed over 600 packs of open-pollinated heirloom vegetable and herb seeds to low-income, disabled, and deserving individuals in their community for free.  As part of her mission to increase the genetic diversity of food crops, Jill regularly gives seed saving workshops and presentations to gardeners and small farmers across the country.  You can find more of Jill’s work at Show Me Oz (ShowMeOz.wordpress.com), a weekly blog filled with in-depth articles on gardening, seed saving, homesteading, wild-crafting, edible and medicinal plants, herbs, nature, and more.  Jill and her husband, Dean, live and work on their rural homestead in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks.

Jennifer Lutes, a Regional Agri-Business Specialist with the McDonald County office of University of Missouri Extension, serving six counties in southwest Missouri. Her educational background includes degrees from Crowder College and the University of Arkansas. These degrees include Animal Science, Agri-Business, Poultry Science, and Agri-Economics. Jennifer specializes in helping farmers incorporate farm business concepts and understand production tradeoffs available to them. Jennifer and her family are longtime residents of SW Missouri, where they raise sheep and goats on less than 40 acres.

Sarah Medlock
, I grew up on a small family farm in Howell County. My passion for and enjoyment of the natural resources of the Ozarks led me to college and ultimately working for the Missouri Department of Conservation. Thankfully my professional career has allowed me to stay in the Ozarks helping to manage natural resources not only on property owned by the Missouri Department of Conservation but also assisting private landowners in reaching their management goals. For almost 4 years I worked as a Private Land Conservationist focused solely on assisting private landowners. Since then I have spent the last 7 years as a Forester managing both state owned forest land and assisting private landowners managing their forest land.

Jennifer Morganthaler, M.S. is a Clinical Instructor and Orchard Manager at the State Fruit Experiment Station in The William H. Darr College of Agriculture, Missouri State University, Mountain Grove. Current research involves High Tunnel Raspberry Production and Grafting and irrigation of Black Walnut. She teaches courses in Plant Science at Missouri State in Springfield and has had experience working in a commercial greenhouse. Jennifer received her M.S. in Plant Science from Missouri State University. 

Marilyn Odneal, M.S. is a Horticulture Educator and Vineyard Manager at the State Fruit Experiment Station and MSU Winery and Distillery, in the William H. Darr School of Agriculture, Missouri State University, Mountain Grove. Current research involves raspberries as a high tunnel crop and has worked on resea
rch projects involving berry crops. She teaches courses in horticulture and wine appreciation at Missouri State in Springfield. Marilyn received her M. S. in Plant Horticulture from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 1981.

Dr. Amy Patillo Community Development specialist, works in community food systems, community and economic development, and workforce development for the University of Missouri Extension. Experience in local foods development, farm to school, non-profit leadership and community education.  

Hank Will (Oscar H. Will III) is a business leader, academic and agricultural practitioner devoted to conservation and small scale, sustainable agriculture. He is currently the editorial director at Ogden Publications in Topeka Kansas, publisher of titles such as GRIT, Capper’s Farmer, Mother Earth News, Farm Collector and many other print and digital properties. Hank’s small-scale, high cash flow farming experience spans more than four decades with projects as varied as native perennial plants and heirloom laying chickens. His current project, Prairie Turnip Farm in rural Osage County, Kansas is home to a direct market Highland beef, Will’s landrace lamb and broiler business. Hank has authored or co-authored seven books, hundreds of articles, enjoys maintaining the open pollinated corn varieties his great grandfather developed and making Finnish style puukko knives, in his spare time. 

Scott McWilliams and his family owns and has operated McWilliams Pumpkin Patch for the last 18 years on our family farm. He has a colorful professional background: 40 year adjunct professor at MSU; retired Army Colonel, built fish hatcheries in Afghanistan; and presently a Wildlife Biologist with Missouri Department of Conservation. His  family operates a livestock (cattle, hogs, sheep, goats and fowl) and grain farm to include raising 25 acres of pumpkin, squash and gourds.