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2016 Climate Conference

March 4, 2016 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

$20 – $65

Abundance NC’s Climate Change Adaptation Conference grew out of a need for education and support of our local farmers, who have been in distress due to the extreme weather challenges they’ve been facing in the last several years. This was a first-of-its-kind conference that draws powerful speakers (see bios below) and sells out each year.

2016’s conference will explore both practical and social solutions and adaptations to climate change. We will dig deep on this one by exploring the nuts and bolts of on-the-ground, down-and-dirty farming, permaculture techniques and hard data, as well as seeking the very root of climate change and other forms of natural environmental destruction. We can adapt to a changing climate, but if we don’t strike the root we’ll never repair whats been broken. We believe this exploration starts with our basic assumptions about the merits of our civilization and what it took to get here: including the inequity of race, colonization and the politics of extraction in an increasingly damaged world.

Pre-Registration for the full-day Conference on Friday is sliding scale $20-$65 until February 15th.
After Feb 15th, registration is $45-$65 sliding scale.  (pre-registration is crucial for event planning!)

REGISTER HERE  for the full-day Conference.

The pre-conference “Amuse Bouche” on March 3th (the night before the conference) is open to the public.  There will be appetizers and drinks followed by a discussion with Natasha Bowens, Laura Lengnick and Maurice Small about food sovereignty and social issues, with Leoneda Inge of WUNC as moderator.

Tickets are $5 in advance and $10 at the door.

REGISTER HERE  for the “Amuse Bouche” event.




Natasha Bowens is an author, farmer, and political activist whose advocacy focuses on food sovereignty and social issues. As a young biracial woman in today’s agricultural movement, she is dedicated to honoring, preserving, and amplifying the stories of Black, Native, Asian and Latino farmers and food activists. Her multimedia project The Color of Food evolved from her work exploring the intersection of race and agriculture for Grist magazine, and from her blog Brown.Girl.Farming, where she writes about issues related to racial inequality, food sovereignty, and resilience. Natasha has interviewed and photographed over 65 North American farmers of color; her work has garnered her national media attention, and she has been featured on CNN, The Atlantic, and Colorlines.


CCCC logoIt is the growers, researchers, activists and eaters who will make successful adaptation possible. Because of the urgency and importance of tackling climate change now, all of us are being called upon to “stretch” — to challenge ourselves to change how we do things. Passing knowledge along at events like this conference is one way to do it.

Special thanks to our partner, Central Carolina Community College.  We’re proud to be sharing our 4th Climate Change Conference with you!




2016  SPEAKERS  


SHORLETTE AMMONS,  Center for Environmental Farming Systems

shorlette-ammonsShorlette Ammons is an Eastern NC native (Mount Olive, NC) who comes from a long lineage of farmworkers, cooks and storytellers. She joined North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in April 2010 as Community Food Systems Outreach Coordinator with the Center for Environmental Farming Systems’ (CEFS) Small Farm Unit located in Goldsboro. She now leads an initiative to address root causes of food insecurity thru the lens structural racism.  Shorlette is a former librarian with a Master’s Degree in Library Science from North Carolina Central University, She has developed her community engagement experience by engaging and working closely with the Goldsboro community over the past 5 years with the Wayne Food Initiative and various community-based food systems projects, including a number of community gardens in the area and a recently established urban farm. She recently started a record label with her twin sister, SugarQube Records, which seeks to represent artists whose culture and creativity are often invisibilized by mainstream radio and media, which reflects the spirit of why she is deeply involved in social and racial equity work. She has a history of working on issues of racial equity as well as issues affecting other marginalized communities.

JOHN BONITZ, Found of Celebrity Dirt Soil Amendments

red cap headshotJohn’s path to his current focus on rebuilding soils has been a meandering one. As the son of a dairy farmer and an insulation industry pioneer, John’s interest in agriculture, forestry, energy and the environment runs deep. John’s environmental profession began as an award winning solid waste manager and recycling coordinator. Graduate studies in climate change policy brought him to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), analyzing cost-effective renewable energy technologies. He has also worked in sustainable agriculture, addressing the challenges of financing farm ventures. From 2007 to 2014, John was with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, helping farmers and woodland owners learn the economic opportunities in a clean energy future, and working to ensure that bioenergy is developed sustainably. In that position, he was caught in crossfires in the debate over the “carbon neutrality” of bioenergy, which drove him to solutions, like biochar, that render the debate irrelevant. In 2015 he began building a farm-based business to build soil and start – in a small way – reversing climate change.

NATASHA BOWENS, Author of The Color of Food
NatashaPhotoNatasha Bowens is an author, beginning farmer and community activist who focuses on building empowerment and community with food and storytelling. Her book The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience and Farming is a book the Foreword Review calls “a trailblazing look at the past and present of North American farming” through the eyes of farmers of color. Natasha spent the past five years gathering stories and portraits of farmers and food activists from Black, Latina, Asian and Native communities across the country – stories that invite us to dig deep into race, culture and community for a truly sustainable food system. Natasha started The Color of Food in 2010 after exploring race and agriculture on her blog Brown.Girl.Farming. and Grist magazine. Her work has now garnered national attention such as The Atlantic, Mother Earth News, VICE and YES! Magazine.

RYAN BOYLES, State Climatologist at NCSU
ryan boyles 1Ryan Boyles is a North Carolina native from Durham with undergraduate and graduate degrees from NC State University. As State Climatologist, Ryan is the chief scientist with responsibilities to develop and promote the Office’s climate services for extension, research, and education of applied meteorology and climatology. Ryan supervises staff and students, assists NC state and county agencies, and interacts with a wide range of public and private sector clients to ensure development and delivery of advanced climate science and services. As a core objective for the State Climate Office, Ryan works to increase the exposure of the SCO and NC State University as a resource for weather and climate expertise and information, including expansion of the NC Environment and Climate Observing Network and development of weather- and climate-based decision support tools.
Ryan has research and development interests in spatial analysis, Geographic Information Systems, global and regional climate change, drought monitoring, water resource management, sensors and instrumentation, agricultural and forest meteorology, and complex data visualization. Ryan leads the Climate Office to continuously develop science applications to aid other agencies and institutions, and extend such tools and technology to support decision-making.


Elijah Brunson is a Case Manager for individuals with special needs at Greenville County Disability and Special Needs Board, where he develops service solutions to provide families with relief, support, and guidance. Elijah received a BS in Psychology where he focused on the impacts of patient provider communication on the Quality of Life post-BMT (bone marrow transplant). Zoë Ackerman is the Associate Program Director for the Rachel Carson Council, where she directs their growing Campus Network devoted to supporting civically-engaged and interdisciplinary environmental research. While a Morehead-Cain Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Zoë studied English and Creative Writing, and founded UNC Flash! Seminars, a cross-disciplinary program. Most recently, Elijah and Zoë have been working together to design creative learning experiences about industrial agriculture, climate change, sustainability, and environmental justice.




Zoe Ackerman Pic

JARED CATES, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association

Jared CatesJared holds a Masters of Social Work degree from UNC and has worked in non-profit organizations in North Carolina for the past 10 years. His recent work has centered on connecting, organizing and mobilizing community members around critical public policy issues. Since joining CFSA in 2011, he has focused on raising the visibility of local farm and food issues in communities across the Carolinas. Jared is also an inter-organizational member of the Community Food Strategies team where he works to support the growing network of food councils across the Carolinas.


Diali Keba Cissokho is a renowned kora player and percussionist from the Casamance region of Senegal. Born into a rich ancestry of Manding griots (the musician caste), Diali has been playing traditional West African music for as long as he can remember. His greatest love is the 21-stringed African “harp-lute” that is at the heart and soul of much West African music (the kora). He is also a passionate singer, percussionist and dancer who brings an unparalleled virtuosity with a unique personal style to this respected traditional art form.

LEIF DIAMANT, Wild Earth Consulting

Bio photo May 2015Leif Robert Diamant has been a lover of Nature all of his life and has spent much of that life outside as a gardener and farmer, ethnobotantist, wild crafter, walker in the woods and fields…   He is a licensed psychotherapist, teacher, and an ordained interfaith/interspiritual minister. He served on the Duke University Medical Center faculty for ten years, and now teaches and leads ceremonies in different settings that have included Piedmont Earthskills Gathering, Shakori Hills Music Festival, Warren Wilson College, Annual Meeting of Licensed Professional Counselors, and the Abundance Foundation.  Leif can be contacted at wildearthconsulting.com or boxturtlecommunitysupportedagriculture (csa). com

DAVON GOODWIN, Fussy Gourmet Farms and O.T.L. Farms

Goodwin_fussy-gourmetDavon Goodwin is a young veteran farmer, manager of Fussy Gourmet Farms LLC, and owner/operator of O.T.L Farms (off the land) located in Raeford NC. He is a native of the Steel City – Pittsburgh Pa – where he started gardening with his aunt in his great grandmother’s garden. He moved to NC to attend the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, following his passion for wrestling.  After getting there, Davon found out that it wasn’t for him, and so he made the selfless decision to join the US Army Reserve. He was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan from 2009-2010, and he says this is where farming began for him. While on a convoy his truck struck an IED which destroyed the vehicle and his body.   He suffered a major concussion and broken vertebras in his lower back.

Davon Goodwin was awarded the purple heart and combat action badge. “Once I woke up from the injury, my perspective on life had changed – it was more about serving other people then serving myself. I’m very thankful for the experience”. Upon his return home, Davon finish his degree in Biology and Botany and started working towards being a young black farmer. For the next six months he volunteered in the community and on other small farms to gain experience until he met Dr. Neil Griffin – owner of Fussy Gourmet Farms.  This is where the story truly begins.  He currently produces pasture pork, muscadine grapes, sheep, goats and hay.


SAVI HORNE, North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers – Land Loss Prevention Project

ACT_01Savi Horne is Executive Director of the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers, Land Loss Prevention Project, which was founded in 1983. The Land Loss Prevention Project is a non-profit, public interest law firm with an overarching mission of providing legal expertise, community education, and advocacy skills to help farmers and rural landowners who face legal, economic, and environmental challenges. The LLPP provided representation for North Carolina Pigford I class claimants and participated in efforts to redress issues with the class action settlement process through the judicial intervention and in federal Farm Bill policy advocacy. Savi serves on The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. Savi was a co-Team Leader of the Diversity Initiative of the Farm and Food Policy Project (FFPP). The FFPP was a W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded project that advocated for policy changes in the 2008 federal Farm Bill, the project was facilitated by the Rural Coalition. In the 2014 Farm Bill policy advocacy process was a member of Getting Our Act Together, a national collaboration to support the growth of regional and local system. As a state, regional and national non-governmental organization leader, she has been instrumental in addressing the needs of small and socially-disadvantage farmers.

LAXMI HUMMEL, Student Action with Farmworkers

Laxmi HummelLaxmi Hummel has worked with SAF since participating as an Into the Fields intern in 2001. For over 8 years she co-coordinated SAF’s Into the Fields Internship & Sowing Seeds for Change fellowship programs. As Assistant Director she helps manage the organizations finances and policies, coordinates the Solidaridad internship and co-directs the SAF Theater Group. She is from Durham, has a BA in Religious Studies from UNC-Chapel Hill, and has served on the boards of Toxic Free NC and the NC Farmworker Health Program.




Leoneda_Inge_Dresden_Head_ShotLeoneda Inge is the Changing Economy Reporter at North Carolina Public Radio – WUNC – an affiliate of National Public Radio. She has spent more than a decade tracking job loss, gain, innovation and diversity in the workplace. Leoneda has followed major North Carolina industries including Tobacco, Furniture, Textiles and Biotechnology. But she most enjoys following Agriculture and the state’s bustling Food industry!

Leoneda has been honored with many awards. They include Gracie Awards from the Foundation of American Women in Radio and Television, Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and an Alfred I. duPont Award from Columbia University for the series – “Understanding Poverty.”

Leoneda is a graduate of Florida A&M University and Columbia University, where she received her Master’s Degree in Journalism, along with a certificate in Business and Economics. Leoneda’s career has taken her to the continents of Europe, Africa and Asia where she has indulged in everything from Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in Tokyo to finger-like White Asparagus in Berlin!


Vivette Jeffries-LoganVivette Jeffries-Logan(Kanahabnen Tabunitckia translation Morning Star) is an enrolled member of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation (OBSN); the Indigenous people of Orange, Alamance and Caswell counties in North Carolina. She is Founder & Principal of Biwa Consulting; her independent Leadership, Organizational Development, Equity and Training consulting business.  She served her People as an elected member of the Tribal Council and as Founding Director of the OBSN Tribal Health Circle. She serves on the Leadership Team for the Journey of the Spiritual Warrior. For 10 years, Vivette was a trainer with Dismantling Racism Works (dRworks), a collaborative of trainers and organizers who have been facilitating Dismantling Racism work for many years. Most recently she served as the Director of Training and Technical Assistance at the NC Coalition Against Domestic Violence where she provided oversight and direction for the Training Team and a statewide Training Institute.

NJATHI KABUI, Organics and Sound

Kabui Best PicChef Kabui is a celebrated organic chef, urban farmer and food activist from Durham, North Carolina and he brings to the table a combination of history, education and experience that has resulted in a unique perspective on food and healthy eating in America and beyond.

Food in its organic form and politics came naturally to Kabui; he was born in central Kenya to a coffee farmer Mum and restaurant owner Dad.  Chef Kabui studied Political Science and Philosophy Studies at Le Moyne Owens College, a historically black college in Memphis, TN.  He received a dual Masters in Medical Anthropology and Urban Anthropology from the University of Memphis. After moving to North Carolina, Chef Kabui studied Anthropology and Culinary Arts from the Center of Green Studies in Pittsboro, NC.

He now leverages his rich legacy by sharing his extensive knowledge of farming, culinary skills and passion for food justice as he travels across America, Europe, and Africa. He is committed to changing the lives of the people around him and the society at large in the way they view food, its usage and sustainability.

Chef Kabui is dedicated to starting, sustaining and offering sustainable food systems in areas otherwise regarded as food deserts.  The organization, Organics and Sounds, also provideseclectic dinners in different settings.  Chef Kabui has been a guest chef in various establishments preparing healthy meals as well as talking about the value of food and how it can be prepared to retain its valuable nutrients.

GINI KNIGHT, Center for Environmental Farming Systems

Gini KnightGini Knight brings more than a decade of project management and communications experience around agriculture, local food systems, and conservation topics. She holds a MS degree in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development, operated an organic vegetable farm, facilitated several public and private sector teams developing urban and rural conservation practices, and currently works for the Center for Environmental Farming Systems on the Community Food Strategies (CFS) team. As part of the CFS team, she works on food council development and communications to help build a stronger NC local food economy.

LAURA LENGNICK, Author of Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate

Laura Lengnick is an award-winning soil scientist who has explored agricultural sustainability for more than 30 years as a researcher, policy-maker, educator, and farmer.  After more than a decade leading the academic program in sustainable agriculture at Warren Wilson College, Laura left the college to offer ecosystem-based climate resilience planning services through Cultivating Resilience, LLC.  Her new book, Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate (New Society Publishers), examines climate change, resilience and the future of food through the adaptation stories of 25 award-winning sustainable producers across the U.S.  You can learn more about Laura at www.cultivatingresilience.com.




GARY PHILLIPS, Freelance Philanthropist

Gary PhillipsGary Phillips is a writer, poet, activist, auctioneer, realtor, naturalist and entrepreneur.  He has a special interest and expertise in conservation easements and other land-protective strategies. Gary co-founded Weaver Street Realty over thirty years ago. He lives in arammed earth house with his wife Ilana Dubester in Silk Hope, North Carolina. Gary avidly reads poetry and anthropological science fiction, studies amphibian activities on full moon nights and was once chair of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners.Gary is active with many non-profit organizations and has served on various boards, including The Abundance Foundation, The Dogwood Alliance and Family Violence and Rape Crisis Services.

ABBEY PINER, Center for Environmental Farming Systems

Abbey PinerAbbey has worked with non-profits at the intersection of food and community development for nearly 10 years in both Washington DC and NC. Abbey layered her experience in Public Health with a Masters Degree in Horticulture where she studied urban agriculture and community engaged design. Abbey began work with Center for Environmental Farming Systems in 2013 working to build community-based food systems across NC. She now coordinates the Community Food Strategies project at CEFS, with an aim to develop and network local food councils across NC to increase the capacity of local communities to influence food systems change.


MAURICE SMALL, Organic Pioneer

Maurice BestMaurice Small, internationally known organic grower, soil alchemist and visionary, has more than 25 years of experience in food systems development, youth entrepreneurship, farmer training and soil creation. Small’s proactive program development and administration in support of regions that are committed to improving food systems has led to numerous multiple-acre sites of organic production in the Midwest and Eastern regions of the United States. His use of creative strategies for re-imagining and establishing food systems has resulted in highly effective, cutting-edge models that push the boundaries of common practice.

Small invests in the people who make food systems possible by training farmers, incubating entrepreneurial ventures, and inspiring positive change through deep-rooted community relationships. He also cultivates unique collaborations with diverse individuals and groups as a way to ensure that healing and hope are available to people as they engage with the earth. Many of Small’s alumni of over 400 interns are at the frontline of the movement towards regenerative agriculture and living systems.

maurice best 2Maurice Small is a sought-after speaker, presenter, guest-lecturer, permaculture trainer and consultant who is available to assist communities, organizations, local/state governments and international NGOs. Small was featured in two documentary films, the Real Low Calorie Diet (2007) and PolyCultures: Food Where We Live (2009). Small’s photographic work is included in Instructions from The Cook: Recipes for New Conversations, by George Nemeth & Jack Ricchiuto (2008). In 2011, the Rodale Institute named Small an Organic Pioneer in the first year of this prestigious award.



To pull off a conference of this magnitude, we need a team of AMAZING volunteers!  Have you got a talent to share?  Would you like to volunteer for your ticket?  3 hours of volunteering gets you a full-day ticket to the conference with a farm-to-table lunch!  To Volunteer, click HERE.

Special thanks to our Partners and Sponsors:

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