Kansas Farmers Union (KFU) will celebrate its 107th year with its annual meeting and convention December 4‐6, 2014 at Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan.

“The convention theme, Thinking Outside The Box reflects our diverse membership,” said KFU President Donn Teske. “Convention goers will enjoy a broad collection of speakers and tours, as well as debate KFU policy and enjoy fellowship with other KFU members from across the state.”

A detailed agenda will be posted on the KFU website soon. Some convention highlights include:

A tour of the Flint Hills Discovery Center, a unique museum that explores the geology, biology and cultural history of the Flint Hills – the last remaining tallgrass prairie in North America. This is a must see attraction that will educate and entertain visitors of every age, with multi-media, interactive exhibits, outdoor terrace, gift store, and traveling exhibits that change throughout the year. The Discovery Center strives to educate on the unique ecosystem of the tallgrass prairie, inspire visitors to become actively engaged in exploring firsthand the Flint Hills region, and ultimately, to become better stewards of this important ecosystem.

The annual KFU Foundation Silent Auction will take place Thursday through Friday evening, and we ask all members to consider donating items to the auction. To donate, please contact Nick Levendofsky at kfu.nick@gmail.com, call (785) 527-0941, or bring donations with you to convention.

On Friday, a panel of Kansas agriculture organization representatives has been invited to join KFU in a discussion on the work each organization is engaged in, and how groups can collectively assist the family farmers and ranchers now and in the future.

KFU’s Nick Levendofsky and Mercedes Taylor-Puckett will present plans for a Family Farmer Day at the Kansas Capitol during the 2015 Legislative Session, an opportunity for KFU & KBFC members to visit their representatives in Topeka and encourage them to support legislation that benefits Kansas family farmers and ranchers and their rural communities. An agriculture advocacy session is also planned, which will train members in speaking and advocating on behalf of KFU and its members when visiting with elected leaders.

Saturday, December 6 is Kansas Beginning Farmer Day, with the day’s speakers and events revolving around the Kansas Beginning Farmers Coalition (KBFC) and its members. KFU members are encouraged to participate.

Saturday’s keynote speaker is Cody Holmes of Real Farm Foods located near Norwood, MO. Cody and his wife Dawnell are the owners of Rockin’ H Ranch, where they raise seasonal produce and free-range chicken, pork, beef, lamb, turkey, eggs, cheese and milk without the use of antibiotics and chemicals.

The Holmes’ raise more than 4,000 tomato and 1,000 pepper plants each year, two of their largest sellers. They also grow green beans, okra and corn. The farm has a number of 2,900-square-foot greenhouses, which expands the farm’s growing season.

Real Farm Foods also has between 300 to 400 cows that produce calves each year, more than 500 sheep, 120 hogs and 5,000 free-range chicken and turkeys. The animals produce tens of thousands of pounds of meat that is sold each year.

One of the largest means of distribution for the farm is through home delivery. About 100 customers in a 200-mile radius area buy meat, cheese, milk and produce weekly. Delivery stops include Seymour, Rogersville, Nixa, Springfield, Strafford and Marshfield.

Representatives of the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s “From the Land of Kansas” trademark program will visit with the group about ways they help businesses that grow, produce, process or manufacture products in Kansas. In addition, the program works with and supports restaurants using Kansas products and retailers selling Kansas products and ingredients. This trademark program helps members promote their Kansas products and provides members with a variety of business development tips and opportunities including marketing assistance. In addition, the state trademark provides a consistent way to identify Kansas agriculture-based products.

Later in the day, the group will have the opportunity to tour People’s Grocery Cooperative. People’s Grocery was incorporated on June 15, 1975 as a for-profit entity under Kansas Cooperative Corporation Code. Its purpose is to “own and operate a consumers’ food cooperative and make available to its members and the public wholesome and nutritious food at the lowest possible prices.” Since that time People’s has outgrown several locations and has grown to over 1,000 members. For more information about People’s Grocery, go to the website.

We look forward to seeing you in “The Little Apple” December 4-6, 2014.