One of the La Crosse Center’s biggest events is back in town, beginning Thursday.
The 33rd MOSES Organic Farming Conference takes over the newly renovated Center through Saturday.
TUESDAY: Tom Manely with MOSES will be on La Crosse Talk PM, beginning at 5:07 p.m. Tune in on the WIZM App, 92.3 FM / 106.7 FM (in Holmen area) or 1410 AM. Manley owns a 40-acre homestead near Spring Valley, Wis.
Thursday’s opener is free and open to the public, so those who are curious about farming and organics can check everything out, ask the experts all their questions.
“I think even for people that are hobby farming or subsistence farming — growing food for yourselves,” MOSES executive director Lori Stern said on La Crosse Talk PM, “there’s still plenty of that exhibit hall and lots of great information about programs and information on how to grow seeds, and what’s going to work well for your soil or where you happen to be gardening.
“So there are people in that exhibit hall that are there and ready to help with all those questions.”
Thursday will also feature dinner from Wisconsin farm-to-table pioneer chef Tory Miller, who was a contestant on The Food Network’s Iron Chef Showdown in 2018 — beating Iron Chef Bobby Flay.
Miller, who is also one of three keynote speakers for the conference — he speaks at 6 p.m. Thursday — went from working at the grandparent’s diner in Racine growing up to attending the the French Culinary Institute in New York. He worked at some of the top restaurants in the Big Apple before returning to Wisconsin.
Now, Miller is all about local food, local agriculture and strengthening Madison’s food system, supporting those farmers and purchasing all local Wisconsin products for his restaurants.
“Our caterer this year is Pogy’s, they’re in La Crosse, and Chef Miller worked with the chef there to curate a menu that I think is going to be really exciting,” Stern said. “So, not only hearing him speak but to be able to taste that food.
“And the food throughout the conference — I mean, the education is really important, the farmer community really important, but the food is always just top notch.”
Miller was the 2012 recipient of the James Beard Award Best Chef award for the Midwest. The Miller dinner cost is $30.
There is also going to be a cash bar featuring, of course, organic drinks — what Stern called “local spirits.” She laughed when asked if by “local spirits” she just means moonshine.
“Sometimes as we’re looking at these microbreweries and, I was just talking to a friend of mine who started a meatery, getting these smaller establishments, getting folks, the opportunity to taste their wares is a little bit of a challenge,” Stern said. “He was kind of laughing about that — going to turn us all into bootleggers. But, no, we’re going to do it on the up-and-up.”
The conference, which was virtual last year due to COVID-19, will feature over 80 speakers and 60 workshops. Masks will be required, except while eating and drinking.