South Dakota Local Foods Conference brings producers, consumers, retailers together

News StaffNovember 17, 2022Local

STURGIS, SD – The South Dakota Local Foods Conference is back in person this year at the Sturgis Community Center on November 17th-19th, 2022. This year’s conference will kick off Thursday, Nov. 17 with a mixer open to the public at the Sturgis Brewing Company, followed by a weekend of presentations by agricultural experts from the region

Ken Charfauros

Featuring nationally-known keynote speakers and in-person breakout sessions taught by our own experts in the region, sessions will include a panel of chefs on using locally produced foods, cover crop strategies, how to price product, a panel on introducing local foods in school lunch menus, pasture-based systems, how to process chickens, seed libraries, and more.

For over 10 years, the South Dakota Local Foods Conference has provided education and networking for both producers and supporters of local foods. This ever-growing conference is a celebration of South Dakota ranchers, farmers and eaters.

It’s an opportunity to highlight the latest work being done to improve and promote local foods in South Dakota and an opportunity to connect with producers, consumers, retailers, restaurants, chefs, and resource providers from across the state.

Shawn Freeland

Among speakers and topics are “Cover Crop Strategies,” presented by Shawn & Kristy Freeland, owners of Dry Creek Farm & Ranch, a first-generation operation specializing in soil health, direct market pastured meats, and community education. The Freeland’s believe regenerative agriculture systems are imperative to the future of sustainable, nutrient rich meat production as is educating and connecting with their community. The farm has been completely no-till since 2016. Additionally, the farm utilizes cover crops for soil health and livestock grazing, practices managed grazing and does not use synthetic fertilizer. In September 2019, the farm added a crop maze and pumpkin patch to enhance their educational efforts.

Dr. Lisa Surber, PhD will be a co-presenting on “Lamb & Wool: Adding Value to Your Operation. She was born and raised on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada and is still active in her family’s commercial cattle operation. She obtained her B.S., M.S., and PhD in Animal and Range Sciences from Montana State University. During her time at MSU, she was the managing director of the Montana Wool Lab. Lisa served as a Wool Education Consultant for the American Sheep Industry Association and with WestFeeds as a Ruminant Nutritionist. Lisa now runs her own business providing nutritional expertise for cattle and sheep, wool buying, classing, and education services, sheep marketing and sales, NSIP certified ultrasounding services, and OFDA on-site wool testing services. She is also the Executive Secretary for South Dakota Sheep Growers Association.

Travis Bartels

Among presenters is Travis Bartels who grew up in the Newell and helping his grandparents around the farm.  It was at a young age that he fell in love with all aspects of food, from growing it to combining flavors. As his passion flourished, he worked his way up to Executive Chef in a few different restaurants in the Northern Hills.  After a break from the industry, Travis is back with a fire using locally produced foods to showcase the area with his recently started catering business, “Seasoned Catering.”

A ”Farm to School Panel,” will include Ken Charfauros, Wall Meat Processing; Kyle Cox, Cox’s Farm Stand; Lynn Dunker, Wall School District; Rhonda Ramsdell, Meade School District; and Cindy Tolle, Evergreen Specialty Foods.

Also included in presentations is a ‘SARE Project Update: Enhancing producer resources to build small meat processing capacity and local meat demand.” And a session on “The Urban Agriculture Initiative at USDA,” from Tanse Herrman, the state grazing lands soil health specialist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Rapid City and Rachel Frei, a soil district conservationist with NRCS

Conference organizers include Dakota Rural Action, South Dakota State University Extension, South Dakota Specialty Producers Association, Bear Butte Gardens, North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE), USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services, and others

Saturday tickets available at

Thursday, November 17th, 2022

9:00 AM – 5:00 PM     Pre-Conference Agritourism Workshop

7:00 PM           Local Foods Conference Kick-off Social at Sturgis Brewing Company

Friday, November 18th, 2022 – Sturgis Community Center         

7:30 AM                      Registration Begins / Breakfast by Chef Travis Bartels

9:00 AM                      Welcome & Announcements

9:15 AM                      KEYNOTE  Natalie Stites Means  “Landback, Tresspass, & Other
Indigenous Matters”

10:15 AM                    Snack Break; Vendor Fair Begins

10:30 AM        Jeremy Nelson “Growing and Marketing Unique Vegetable Varieties”
Barbara Cromwell, “SNAP and Incentive Programs at Farmers Markets”
Peggy Martin & Bud Manke, “Automation for High Tunnels, Watering Systems,
and Monitoring  Coolers”

11:30 AM                    Break

11:45 AM                    Travis Bartels, Jordan Taylor, Matte Wilson, and
Franky Young “Chef Panel”

12:45 PM                     Lunch by Chef Jordan Taylor

1:45 PM           Rhoda Burrows & Kristine Lang “Soil Health & Cover Crop Management for
Vegetable Production”
Brooke Wier “Getting Started with Farm Service Agency”

Lisa Surber & Jaelyn Whaley “Lamb & Wool: Adding Value to your Operation”

2:45 PM                       Snack break

3:00 PM           Darin Waldner “A Mechanical Engineer’s Approach to Gardening”
Kari O’Neill  “Creating an Action Plan You Can Follow”
Shawn Freeland   “Cover Crop Strategies”

4:00 PM                       Break

4:15 PM           Nick Hernandez “Regenerating a Local Food System on the
Pine Ridge Reservation”
Ken Charfauros, Kyle Cox, Lynn Dunker, Rhonda Ramsdell, & Cindy Toll
“Farm to School Panel”
Bryan Mitchell  “Controlled Environment Agriculture
Western Dakota Technical College “

Saturday, November 19th

7:00 AM                      Registration / Breakfast by Chef Travis Bartels

8:00 AM                      Amanda Blair, Ryan Schmid, & Michelle Tyon “SARE Farmers Forum”

8:50 AM                      Break

9:00 AM                      KEYNOTE Hannah Breckbill
“Relying on Each Other: The Practice of Community”

10:00 AM                    Snack Break

10:15 AM        Michelle & Rick Grosek & Kiara Poitra “Pricing Your Products”
Eliza Blue “Start Small, Dream Big”
Jamie Boley  “Chicken Processing”

11:15 AM                    Break

11:30 AM        Trish Jenskins, Jeremy Smith, and Rachel Saum
“Some Things About Seeds”
Hannah Breckbill  “Adding Livestock to a Vegetable Farm”

Rachel Frei & Tanse Herrmann “The Urban Agriculture Initiative at USDA”

12:30 PM                     Lunch by Chef Travis Bartels

2:00 PM – 3:30PM   Farm Tour: Bear Butte Gardens
Farm Tour: Moonrise Mountain Ranch
Farm Tour: Belle Valley Ancient Grains