Coffee Talk Webinar Series: Learning and Connecting for Action

Coffee Talks provide a virtual platform to catalyze connections around specific food system topics. Each Coffee Talk features resource experts who highlight innovative approaches and strategies to connect, engage, and dig in deeper after the webinar.

Upcoming Coffee Talk:

April 27, 2017 – Digging Into Healthy Soils and Carbon Farming

Sara Via will introduce the basic principles of soil health and discuss how microbial life in the soil is essential to plant health.  She will discuss what makes healthy soil, what degrades soil health, how to know if your soil is healthy, and how to increase soil health if it needs improvement. Jay Ford will focus on the practicalities of carbon farming and will drill down briefly into the unique importance of carbon as the best results metric. He will cover some specific methods suitable for large, medium, and small scale farmers slides and will cover ideal annual, mixed, and perennial cropping systems.

Click on image below to register!

Sara Via is Professor of Biology at the University of Maryland, College Park.  She has recently moved from research on the genetics of crop pests to focus on climate change outreach through the University of Maryland Extension.  Sara works with Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists and also with farmers across Maryland to convey the impacts of climate change and the solutions that are already available.  Her interest in healthy soil stems both from its fascinating biology and its pivotal role in mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration.

Jay Ford is the Executive Director of Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper, dedicated to protecting, preserving, and enhancing the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic waters off of the Virginia’s Eastern Shore. He is also the owner of Shine and Rise Farm, a sustainable, permaculture farm growing healthy people and a healthy planet. Jay also served on the Virginia Climate Change Commission, as well as the Land Conservation Foundation Board, and the Coastal Land Advisory Council.
Moderator, Meredith Lathery Girard, joined the Town Creek Foundation as the Senior Program Officer in October 2011. Meredith leads the foundation’s Chesapeake Bay restoration and food system reform work. Town Creek Foundation currently is co-chair of the Washington Regional Food Funders and Meredith is a past co-chair of the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network (2014-2016). She has a background in Chesapeake Bay environmental issues in both the government and non-profit sectors. Meredith joined Town Creek Foundation after serving as Director of Land Acquisition and Planning for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, which administers Maryland’s nationally recognized land conservation effort known as Program Open Space. She earned a B.A. in Economics from Penn State University, and a J.D. and Masters in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School. Meredith is a member of the Maryland and Federal bar.


1.) An opinion piece by Bill McKibben, Karl Thidemann, Seth Itzkan on Using Soil to Fight Climate Change: 

Excerpt: “Agriculture, with its unique ability to sequester carbon on, as Carl Sagan might say, billions and billions of acres, is the only industry poised to reverse global warming. Improved management of cropping and grazing heals land, boosts soil fertility, prevents flooding, enhances drought resilience, increases the nutritional content of food and restores wildlife habitat — while sequestering carbon.

2.) Soil Building Fact Sheet from California ( that summarizes some good practices for soil health.   At the end, it also refers to a comprehensive treatment for people who want more detail (SARE “Building soils for better crops”;  free on the SARE website). 


Past Coffee Talks:

September 2015 – Pesticide Impacts on Pollinators, Aquatic Life and the Food Supply  & What’s Being Done

October 2015 – Impacts of Antibiotic Overuse & What We Can Do to Affect Change

December 2015 – Maryland Grown: A Review of Production and Consumption

January 2016 – A New Year’s Resolution You’ll Want to Keep: Green Your Community and Reduce Your Community’s Food Waste

February 2016 – Why Regional? Incorporating a Regional Perspective into your Work

March 2016– Overview: Assessment of Food System Efforts in the Chesapeake Foodshed

April 2016– Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

May 2016– Community Food Rescue: A Model to Feed More and Waste Less

Early June 2016Unlocking the Black Box of the U.S. Local Food System: A Discussion of USDA’s Census of Agriculture and the New Local Food Marketing Practices Survey

Late June 2016 Regional Farm to Institution Insights: Learnings from Stakeholders Across the Value Chain

August 2016 Navigating a Treacherous Landscape: A Practitioner’s Guide to GAP Food Safety Certification & The Food Safety Modernization Act

September 2016 – Farm to Institution: Focusing on Equity and Impact

October 2016 – Sustainable Agriculture with or without Labor?

November 2016 – Learning the ABCs of Farm2Childcare: Perspectives from the Farm and the Childcare Center presented by the Planning Council

December 2016 – Tools & Strategies to Facilitate Access to Land for the Next Generation of Farmers: A conversation with Holly Rippon-Butler from the National Young Farmers Coalition

January 2017 – Repurposing Food, Reducing Risk: Legal & Practical Dimensions of Putting Excess Food to its Highest & Best Use

February 2017– Healthy School Food Maryland: Pushing Schools toward Local, Scratch-Cooked Food Using “School Food Environment Grades”

March 2017 -Navigating a Treacherous Landscape: A Practitioner’s Guide to GAP Food Safety Certification and the Food Safety Modernization Act (Part II)


We invite food system resource experts to use the Coffee Talk platform to engage with a broader audience.  Contact us if you would like to lead a Coffee Talk.