Keynote Speakers


Melinda Hemmelgarn

Registered Dietitian
Host of the nationally syndicated “Food Sleuth Radio” show

Friday General Session (1:30 p.m.)

“The Boiling Frog Syndrome:
How Farmer-Consumer Connections can Transform our Food System and Save our Species”

Disconnection and deception too often describe consumers’ relationships with their food, and those who produce it. We swim in a cluttered, confusing marketplace of “green noise,” and increasingly face urgent planetary and public health crises.

Food Sleuth Radio host Melinda Hemmelgarn will connect public and environmental health to the way we produce our food. She’ll share her vision for a united farmer-consumer coalition – an educated, empowered band of food citizens who can reclaim the narrative, and reform our food system through advocacy and action for a sustainable future.

Melinda is an award-winning dietitian, writer, and nationally syndicated radio host. With more than 35 years’ experience in media, plus clinical, academic, and public health nutrition, she helps people “think beyond their plates” and connect the dots between food, health and agriculture. She serves on the Beyond Pesticides Board; she is a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Science Network, and Association of Health Care Journalists. She contributes regularly to Organic Valley’s Rootstock Blog, and ACRES USA, where she explains the health benefits of organic and agro-ecological farming methods. She served on the MOSES board as the “consumer representative” for eight years, and is a former Food and Society Policy Fellow.


John Mesko

Executive Director of MOSES

Friday General Session (1:30 p.m.)

“The Organic Movement:
Shaping the Future of Farming”

The organic farming movement has led innovation in sustainable agriculture for 30 years. Reduced tillage, cover crops, and the widespread interest in soil health all have roots in our community. John explores our movement’s influence and how it sets the stage for a bright future for farming.

John is the executive director of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). Before joining MOSES in 2016, he headed the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota. He has a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and a master’s in farm management from Purdue University. He has seen all sides of agriculture, from biotech research and fertilizer sales to sustainable, organic production. This diverse background gives him a unique perspective to connect with all types of farmers.

John and his wife, Lisa, own a grass-fed beef operation in east central Minnesota. They live in the Twin Cities.



Chris Blanchard

Purple Pitchfork farm-business consulting
Host of the Farmer to Farmer Podcast

Saturday General Session (1:30 p.m.)

“Farm Life Balance: Reflections & Ideas
from the Farmer to Farmer Podcast”

Making a living farming is one thing. Having a life is another. Chris draws from his 25 years of farming, as well as his podcast conversations with more than 150 farmers, to offer insights for a positive quality of life while farming. Be empowered by his meaningful, practical advice on a topic of ongoing importance to everybody in the farming community.

Chris provides consulting and education for farming, food, and business through Purple Pitchfork. For years, he owned and operated Rock Spring Farm, near Decorah, Iowa, where he grew vegetables, herbs, and greenhouse crops, marketed through a 200-member year-round CSA, food stores, and farmers markets.

Chris is a MOSES Conference workshop icon, sharing his experience and innovative approaches for the past eight years, and serving as co-coordinator of the conference for several of those years. His workshops, writing, and consulting about farm business concepts, food safety, organic vegetable production, and scaling-up have gained a reputation for fresh approaches, down-to-earth information, and honesty.  



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