2012 TOFGA Conference Schedule for your reference.

(edited April 30, 2012)

Thursday Feb 16

Farm Tours:

(Included as part of conference registration. Participants are invited to visit more than one farm. There will be two start times at each site: 1:00 & 3:30 pm for Thursday tours and 9:00 & 10:30 am for Friday tours. Off site. No transportation provided)

Roland Farm - 6159 FM 543, McKinney, 75071

               An organic homestead north of Dallas where owners Tony Manasseri and Mary Ann Lynch will lead the tour. Highlights include dairy goats for home milk production, free range laying hens, meat chickens, and turkeys, Livestock guardian dogs, year around vegetable gardening including their $200 DIY winter greenhouse, as well as fruit trees, berries, grapes, and pecans. About a 45-60 minute drive from the convention center in Mesquite.


Gnismer Farm – 3010 S. Bowen Rd, Arlington, 76016

               On a five-acre tract in the middle of Arlington, Lynn Remsing runs a U-pick farm. But he also works with other smaller farms to increase sustainable fruit and vegetable production in various parts of the state. Lynn also runs Gnismer Farm Equipment. Come see germination chambers, plastic mulch, intensive growing in a small area, and a demonstration of the compost turner. Lynn will have some of his equipment on display at the conference, but come to the farm and you can see some of it in action! About a 40-60 minute drive from the convention center in Mesquite.

Friday, Feb. 17

7:30am – Registration opens

 Farm Tours: Off site. Start times at each farm 9:00 & 10:30 

Eden’s Organic Farm – 4710 Pioneer Rd. Balch Springs, 75180

               A great example of a small, young CSA farm with a mission. With limited access to fresh, organic produce in the area, owner-farmer Marie Tedei wants to be the place to find it. Marie has about two acres under production for her CSA members and chef friends. She holds a market twice a month April – December. Marie also raises chickens for eggs and has had her fair share of predator problems. Come and learn about the possibilities and challenges of farming in a not-so-rural area. About a 10 minute drive from the convention center in Mesquite.

Paul Quinn College Farm - 3837 Simpson Stuart Rd., Dallas, 75241

              Come see the football field turned organic farm!   The Farm at Paul Quinn College is a student run farm with over two acres of planting space, permaculture crops, bees aquaponics, and teaching beds utilized by the Botany and Social Entrepreneurship classes and as a test lab for organic growing practices.  The farm was started in 2010 to address the fact that the community of Highland Hills is a food desert. Ten percent of the harvest is donated to food assistance programs. The remaining is sold in the community and used in the cafeteria.  Current ongoing projects include a greenhouse and orchard.  Students do everything on the farm from field prep, planting, maintaining, harvesting and delivering produce.

8:30-11:30am -- Pre-conference workshops:

These great add-on workshops will provide in depth, specific information on specific topics. This is a great opportunity for those just getting started or for someone wanting to go deeper into a subject.  Check them out!

Each workshop runs from 8:30am to 11:30am. All will be at the Mesquite Conference center, except for the Butchering workshop noted below. All workshops are $50 per person, member or non member, and do not require conference registration to participate.

New Farmer  – Brad Stufflebeam, Jenny Stufflebeam, and Steve Carlson

Getting started in farming? Thinking about getting started? This workshop is for you! Come learn what you need to get started from those who have succeeded. Learn what to do, what not to do, as well as some great business planning advice.

Food Policy Councils – Mark Winne

This workshop will cover some of the basics of food policy councils as well as discussions about the potential for food policy councils and food policy work in Texas. Anyone involved in a food policy council, anyone interested in starting a food policy council, elected officials, community food workers, local government employees, grassroots organizers, and anyone interested in food policy is invited to attend the workshop. Learn more about speaking up and making your food system what you want it to be!

Butchering – Matt Hamilton (this class is off site)

This class will be a walk-through breakdown of a grass-fed beef carcass to give attendees a hands-on experience to learn cuts of beef, locations of, and variations of cuts of beef.  We will be discussing the difference between the commercial cuts of beef coming out of large plants know as boxed beef, custom processed beef cuts, and retail beef cuts.   Attendees will be learning how to talk to a custom processor to get the cuts that will get the most value out of their animal and provide their customers with products they want and can use.  Dress warm and wear non-slip shoes. Leather soles, open toes, or high heels will not be allowed into the cutting room for this class.  Note:This workshop will be held at Local Yocal, 213 N. Tennessee in McKinney

Organic Certification – Dave Engel, Nature's International Certification Services
This workshop will provide an overview of the organic certification process as well as information about how to proceed through the steps of becoming certified.

Intensive Grazing - Sabino Cortez, Erath Earth

The in's and out's of Serengeti Grazing. How to survive the drought and make money at the same time. This workshop will cover pasture fertility, stocking rates, water usage, irrigation and vegetation. An irrigation expert will be on hand during this workshop to answer questions and demonstrate proper techniques, as well as a rancher who has used this technique extensively.

Aquaponics  – Dave Pennington

This workshop will provide an overview of Aquaponics by focusing on state-of-the-art technology for small-scale and commercial operations. By utilizing the fish waste to support a robust and stable biological system at the root zone, the major benefits of organic production are realized. Participants will learn in a classroom setting, as well as a hands-on setting, building a 13 sq ft garden from an ‘IBC’ tote and common plumbing parts. Learn how to easily build a garden which efficiently waters itself and can produce as much as 4x the amount of food possible in a similar sized soil garden.

Know What Comes First! Pastured Poultry Basics Jules Assata

In an educational conversation, this workshop will provide participants with a solid foundation for raising chickens for meat and eggs, as well as more detailed information such as what a chicken sneeze sounds like and what to do about it. Instructor Jules Assata has her own experience raising chickens and eggs for sale along with training and support from the pastured poultry answer man Jeff Mattocks, of Fertrell Company. Jules also has training from the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference (SSAWG). It is through a grant from SSAWG that this class is offered at no cost to the first 30 participants.

12:00-1:15pm – Lunch & Conference Opening session

1:30pm –

            Healthy Organic Transplants in a Greenhouse  Pamela Hornby, Boggy Creek Farm.

This session will cover everything you need to know about growing healthy organic transplants in a greenhouse operation. Soil mixes, sanitation, various seeding techniques and insect and disease control are just a few of the topics discussed, as well as economical heating and cooling ideas.


            Building a Compelling Business Plan – Steve Carlson, Slow Money DFW

       This presentation will share Steve’s experience on the business planning process, illuminate the key elements of a business plan, and discuss how to successfully implement your business plan.  For it is the successful implementation of a plan based in reality that will obtain a yield.


            Rainwater Harvesting – John Smith, SARE

Rainwater Harvesting is almost as old as man, still the interest in this old technology has resurfaced as something of great interest. Learn about rainfall - where it goes to the basics of rainwater harvesting, and how is it used in small settings or large scale industrial sites.


            First Steps for Farm to School – Andrew Smiley, Sustainable Food Center

            Sustainable Food Center’s Sprouting Healthy Kids Farm-to-School and Food-Systems Education project serves as a model for incorporating healthy foods into school cafeterias, teaching young people about local food systems, and creating new markets for farmers.  This session will present basic information and useful resources for starting a local farm-to-school program in your own community.

3:00pm –

GMO’s – Judith McGeary, FARFA and Cameron Molberg, Coyote Creek

             Get the latest news on the problems with genetically modified (GM) crops and the intersection of organics and GMOs.  Learn about the fight against GMOs at every level, from choosing what you buy to petitioning the government to the courtroom.


            Soil Biology and Improvement for Growers – Michael Bosco, Soils Alive

             Input costs dominate the discussion in large projects, fortunately soil biology works for food.  By feeding the existing biology, diversity augmentation and shifting bacteria to fungal ratio that matches our desired plant;  the soil biology manager can become a hero in any project.  Learn what to see, smell and apply to generate profits in your operation.


            Agricultural Valuation - Get that Exemption! – Sue Beckwith, TOFGA and Brad Stufflebeam, Home Sweet Farm

              Small landowners are repeatedly challenged for ag exemption.  We will discuss what to look for when purchasing land, share stories on how to deal with this issue and how to best protect your exemption status.  Attendees are encouraged to share their experiences for group discussion.


            Poultry Production – Jules Assata, Shades of Green and Jennifer Huf, Slow Food Farm

             The Small Scale Poultry Production presentation will focus on pastured poultry for meat production, including capital requirements, infrastructure needs, processing and other considerations for anyone considering adding meat bird production to their farm or expanding an existing broiler operation. Possible pitfalls, common mistakes, and the like will be included in the presentation.

4:30pm –

Interns and Volunteers on the Farm - Amanda Austin and Dan Bernsworth, Cardo's Farm Project

            This presentation covers the establishment and management of a volunteer and internship program on the farm. Topics include building a volunteer base, setting up the framework to support volunteers and volunteer work, day-to-day volunteer management, organizing and managing a volunteer event or large group, and short and long term farm internships.


Organic Farming on a Budget – Justin Duncan, Prairieview A&M

           This session will detail opportunities and options for producers with limited means.  Expand upon your operation without over extending your pocketbook with programs for organic producers, research grants and educational partnerships.


            Integrated Pest Management – Thomas Harr, Earthwise Organics

           Organic Approaches to Pest Control explores the rationale, logistics, and practical results of purposeful plant protection.  A case study of a crop protection plan (watermelon) will be used as an example of how to best approach pest control and crop risk mitigation.  Thomas’ experiences in food production over the last 25 years have convinced him of the efficacy and practicality of the biologically oriented approach to growing crops.  His experience with growing crops and recommending products over a wide geography have convinced him that balancing soil nutrition and protecting that investment are the cornerstone(s) of a sustainable farming operation.  Organic Approaches to Pest Control is the result of that experience.


            Goats and Lamb – Ty Wolosin, Windy Hill Farm

             This workshop will discuss how to raise, market, and sell goat and meat sheep.

6:00 – Mixer in exhibitor area

Dinner w/ cash concessions, local beers & wines, & seed swap

7:30Screening of "The Greenhorns" documentary film, completed after almost 3 years in production, explores the lives of America's young farming community - its spirit, practices, and needs. It is the filmmaker's hope that by broadcasting the stories and voices of these young farmers, we can build the case for those considering a career in agriculture - to embolden them, to entice them, and to recruit them into farming.

Saturday, Feb. 18

7:30am – Registration Opens

8:00-8:30am – Coffee & snacks with the vendors

8:30 - 10:00am

            Intro to Aquaponics - Dave Pennington, Synergyfish

            In the workshop you will learn how to make a 13 square foot garden from a 275 gallon "IBC tote". Using simple tools and a small number of common plumbing parts, the class will see how they can easily build a garden which efficiently waters itself and can produce as much as 4x the amount of food possible in a similar sized soil garden, using much less water.


Heirloom Tomatoes -  Marilyn Simmons, Garden Inspirations, Donelle Simmons

           This heirloom tomato workshop is not just about the funny names. It will explore sustainability and celebrate our freedom of choice. It will inform gardeners about the huge variety of tomatoes that have been passed down for at least 50 years. The participants will leave wanting to choose a tomato that bursts with flavor, comes with at least a 50 year history, or perhaps one with character as interesting as the name it was given. Planting procedures will be presented and discussed during this workshop.


            Community Gardening - Amanda Vanhoozier, Coppell Farmers Mkt & Commty Garden

           An interactive session on the benefits of community gardening; environmental, health, social, economical, and more. Come learn more about relevancy and sustainability for community gardens in your neighborhood, on your farm, or just how to get involved in this food movement!  Lots of pictures and ideas!


            Beating the Drought - Brad Stufflebeam, Home Sweet Farm

Brad will discuss his techniques for growing vegetables for market during the most extreme drought conditions.  Covering irrigation techniques, mulching, shade tunnels, crop selection and more.


Growing Microgreens for Home and Market  - Hans Hansen, Twin Persimmons Farm

This presentation will discuss the basics of growing microgreens for both home and small scale commercial production. Topics will include microgreen types and their culture, custom mixed soil, growing containers, seed preparation, temperature, lighting, harvesting and marketing


              Introduction to Serengeti Grazing Sabino Cortez, Erath Earth

              This workshop will provide an overview of the Serengeti grazing method including pasture fertility, stocking rates, water usage and irrigation, and vegetation. This method will help survive the drought and make money at the same time.

10:15am  - 11:30am

The Whys and Hows of Establishing Local Fruit Plant Nurseries for Organic Growers- Guy Ames, NCAT

This presentation will focus on: 1) why regional fruit plant nurseries are needed, 2) the favorable economics of the nursery business, 3) plant propagation--resources and techniques (including budding & grafting), 4) on-line and catalog marketing, 5) the pros and cons of such a business, etc.


Organic Vegetable Gardening - Howard Garrett

             Everyone knows pesticides and synthetic fertilizers aren't good for us or the environment. 
             Yet, you may think your plants won't flourish without using chemicals. Organic gardening 
             is so much more than simply finding safer ways to kill pests. It's about understanding
             nature and working with nature to grow great vegetables. Howard Garrett teaches
             from years of experience in organic gardening to give you clear-cut, step-by-step
             instructions for growing vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other food crops the natural way. 
             Howard will explain how to have healthy soil and recommends environmentally safe
             products and even some homemade remedies to control pests and diseases in your garden.
             Also get the nuts-and-bolts information on companion planting and the use of beneficial insects.


            Soil Biology and Improvement for Gardeners and Residential Landscapers - Michael Bosco, Soils Alive

The soil food web is the driving force of productive soils.  Without a functioning soil system weak plants succumb to insects and disease with little hope of reaching their genetic potential.  Learn what makes up a healthy soil, and how we as gardeners can use mother nature’s workforce to create a bountiful garden, lush lawn, and showy flowers.


            Drought Management Resources - Alyssa Burgin, Texas Drought Project

Many Texans are unaware of how dire the predictions are for future drought in Texas. The TDP Director explores current research, up-to-date studies, and climate change data to explain how desertification and increased temperatures combine for a future that will be very different from our past. Conservation, limitation on development, and holistic soil management will be covered as solutions to our collective dilemma.


            Texas Food Laws - Judith McGeary, Farm And Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA)

            Learn about the new cottage foods law that allows for the sale of low-risk foods directly to consumers without state or local regulation.  Also get the latest news about what is happening with raw milk in Texas, and share your suggestions on what should be the priorities for the next legislative session.

Marketing the Food You Grow - Brian Cummings and Rick Shoen, Eat Green DFW

Marketing is all about being visible to your customers, finding strategies that work and helping past customers sell for you.  How do you get potential customers to know, like and trust you?  Which techniques are most cost-effective?  Why do the best marketing plans have clear benchmarks, budgets and calendars?


11:30 -1:00 Lunch and Regional Meetings

1:00 – 2:15pm

Edible Ornamentals for North Texas – Leslie Finical Halleck, Halleck Horticultural

Who says beautiful can’t taste good too? If you’re looking to make the most of your gardening real estate, consider planting edible ornamentals. There are a bevy of beautiful edible crops that make outstanding ornamentals in the garden and containers. Learn about specific plants and how to grow them.


 Garden Design for Beneficial Insects and Pest Control - Lucy Harrell

In this workshop, Lucy will share her knowledge of companion planting that will produce a beautiful landscape with natives, drought tolerant roses, herbs, and food crops-either in beds or small separate spaces.  We will view pictures of such landscapes that she has designed for her clients and pictures of individual plants - also includes many plants that can live on very low water.


Berries in North Texas - Sue Newhouse, Aunt Sue's Barn

This presentation is designed to show through pictures how Sue has produced various berries on her farm in North Texas. By using pictures to stimulate discussion, participants will see various berries through their life cycles and discuss how to apply it to your home garden.


Retail and Restaurant Marketing - Chris Romano, Whole Foods and Cynthia Chippendale, Potager

             Join Chris and Cynthia to discuss what chefs and retail outlets are looking for and how best to approach them.  Bring your questions!


Dairy Management Roundtable - Texas Daily Harvest, Veldhuizen Dairy, County Line Dairy

Interactive discussion on operating a successful dairy operation.

Small Scale Urban Agriculture - Andrea Bithell, Oak Cliff Organics and Paul Quinn College

           Whether a 4X8 garden in the back yard, 1/2 an acre in town, 2 acres in the county, learn to grow lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, fish and more to feed your family organically and economically.  Topics include: proportional planting for family size; water source; layout and design of an urban garden, including square foot gardening; preparing the space for fruits, vegetables, trees, and livestock; importance of organic feed for plants and animals; pest management; harvesting methods; preserving the harvest.

2:30 pm – 3:45pm

High Tunnel Construction Demonstration - Steve Chaney, Tarrant County AgriLife

Steve will walk you through construction of a high tunnel for use in extending the growing season.  It’s easier than you think!


            Organics for Professional Landscapers - Howard Garrett

            Organics for Professional Landscapers is for landscape architects and contractors, 
commercial growers, golf course managers, park administrators, turf managers and other
stewards of the land. In addition, it is for those in the position of hiring these people. The organic approach is about a different way of thinking about landscaping, farming,
gardening, pest control and living in general. It’s not about just switching products. It’s about
reading and studying and listening to get a better understanding of nature so you can make
better decisions, grow better plants, improve our health, reduce costs and be profitable, or at
least stay in the budget if you are a non-profit entity. Organic programs on a large scale can make a difference in the quality of
our environment, our use of fossil fuels and our climate. Let’s face it; we are in an era of
declining, more expensive resources. Whether it is water, fertilizer, or fossil fuels, the organic
approach taken to the large scale has enormous potential to conserve resources and create a
sustainable future for everyone. After all, we are all in this together.

SeedSaving - Dr. James Veteto, UNT, Southern Seed Legacy

This presentation will introduce participants to the Southern Seed Legacy, an heirloom seed conservation project that houses over 800 heirloom seeds at the University of North Texas.  Seed saving fundamentals for several of the most prominent heirloom crops grown in Texas will also be discussed.  The session will end with an opportunity for participants to have questions answered about seed saving.


Organic Fruit Production in North Texas - Guy Ames, NCAT

Topics will include:  "start smart--why organic growers shouldn't buy fruit plants from a big-box store," "fruit varieties suited for organic production in North Texas," "demystifying organic pest control in the garden and orchard," "soil and fertility considerations for organic fruit production," and more.


Additional On-Farm Income  - Erin Flynn, Green Gate Farm

Learn how to evaluate your farm for its ability to generate additional on-farm income through education programs for children and adults. Co-founder of New Farm Institute at Green Gate Farms explains how to create camps, workshops and other on-farm opportunities.  Participants will be asked to share their experiences.

Papercrete for Root cellars - Stuart Veldhuizen, Veldhuizen Cheese

This presentation will be about an alternative building project that was completed on the farm in Dublin, Texas, using Papercrete - a combination of recycled newspaper, water, and Portland cement. Papercrete has a high R factor and is an affordable, sustainable building material.


4:00pm –

Low Tunnels - Dr Obadiah Njue, Ext Hort Agent

Farmers and Gardeners will learn how Low Tunnels, mainly wire or PVC hoops covered with clear plastic or row covers, can be cost effective ways to get early yields, extend the growing season, keep pests off crops, provide wind protection, and improve the general growing conditions.  Low Tunnels can provide low-cost solutions to improve vegetable crops production and efficiency.  They can be used in open fields or within hoop houses to provide additional protection in winter.


Growing from Seed for Home and Market Gardens - Kim Martin, Barking Cat Farm

Basics to advanced concepts of seed starting will be covered. Topics will range from germination fundamentals, seed selection, containers, watering, lighting, fertilization strategies to problem solving when things go wrong.


Urban Backyard Chicken Keeping - Leslie Finical Halleck, Halleck Horticultural

Ready to add a flock of hens to your back yard? It might not be as hard as you think, even in the city. Keeping chickens is a great way to provide healthy organic eggs for your family. Learn the basics of backyard flocks, housing, maintenance & care, health issues, breeds and recycling waste for the garden.


Vermicomposting - Heather Rinaldi, Texas Worm Ranch

Easy, beneficial to individuals and communities by reducing waste, creating beautiful and safe landscapes and gardens, promoting local, sustainable, and organic agriculture. Learn how Heather became a worm rancher and learned to love garbage. Discover the whys of vermicomposting, how to set up and care for worm bins, and how to utilize worm castings for organic garden and landscaping success.


Mycorrhizae: The next BIG thing in Organic Farming and Gardening is really small - Larry Simpson, MycoApply

Mycorrhizal fungi are naturally-occurring, microscopic organisms that can have a significant and positive impact on crop success, production costs, water management and environmental sustainability. Unfortunately these fungi are often missing from modern agricultural, urban and suburban soil environments. What are these living allies and how can we restore and perpetuate them in our farms and gardens?

Farming the Internet: Social Media and Website Marketing - Ty Wolosin, Windy Hill Organics, and Mike Newhouse, Impyre

Farming the Internet and organically growing your social media presence can be a powerful tool to sprout the success of your farm. In this session, you'll learn how to use Facebook and Twitter, increase your fans and followers, have more people find your farm while doing Google searches and make your website more of a resource for your customers.

5:30 - Vendor area closed.

5:45-7:15pm – Annual Member Meeting


7:30pm Organic Banquet with keynote Mark Winne. Mark Winne has worked for 40 years as a community food activist, writer, and trainer. For 25 years, Winne worked to connect fresh, local produce to local residents as the Executive Director of the Hartford Food System. He also helped to create a working lands conservancy to ensure retention of local farmlands for local production of fruits and vegetables. He is now a national consultant on food policy councils with the Community Food Security Coalition. He speaks across the country advocating for local food. Winne writes. “We will either shape our own food destiny or we will succumb to one that is presented to us. Placing ourselves in the hands of others can be either an act of profound trust, or one of unsettling risk.”


Sunday Feb 19th

8:00am – Registration and Vendor area open


8:00-8:30am – Coffee & Snacks with the vendors

8:30 am –

Cover Cropping - Brad Stufflebeam, Home Sweet Farm

Covering the benefits and best suited varieties for the South.  Cool and warm season cover crops can be integrated in an intensive vegetable production system and for rotational grazing.  Brad will share his techniques on how best to utilize this valuable tool which will help produce a more sustainable growing operation.


Technology for Farms - Sue Beckwith, TOFGA and Kestrel Lancaster

Learn ways to use your smart phone and your computer to make your farming easier, faster and more profitable and fun.  Learn about web services for setting up your CSA and marketing your products and services online.  Even if you're new to technology, Kestrel and Sue will help you feel comfortable.  If you're an experienced user of technology, please join us and share your knowledge.


Homeopathy on the Farm - Maureen Hansen, Pres, Homeopathic Society of TX


Transplanting Sweet Corn - Larry Butler, Boggy Creek Farm

This session will cover everything you need to know to get a 100 % stand of sweet corn and be the first grower to have sweet corn at the market. From starting the plants in the greenhouse, to transplanting, irrigation, spraying and finally - what you’ve been waiting for - harvesting!


Certified Naturally Grown – Pamela Klein Johnson, Rose Creek Farm

Certified Naturally Grown is a non-profit grass roots organization offering certification for small-scale farmers and beekeepers using natural methods. The presentation will familiarize you with the requirements of the certification from the point of application to the on-farm inspection. We will cover the program requirements for Produce, Apiary and Livestock growers.


10:00 am –

Farmscaping:  Plant Diversity on Farms- Justin Duncan, Prairie View A&M

The technique of Farmscaping capitalizes upon nature’s own forces to keep your garden pest free. Learn to manipulate the environment of your garden, field or farm to attract beneficial insects to manage pests in a holistic ecosystem based fashion. Don’t ask what’s eating your squash and tomatoes have your pests asking what’s eating them.


 Beekeeping - Brandon and Susan Pollard, Texas Honeybee Guild

Making provisions for honeybees and native pollinators in urban and rural settings.

The return to natural beekeeping practices and genetic diversity in support of our "angels of agriculture".


Grass Fed Beef Roundtable - Matt Hamilton (Genesis Beef), Ty Wolosin (Windy Hill Organics), Robert Hutchins (Rehoboth Ranch)

This roundtable will discuss issues and methods for managing grass-fed livestock.


 Permaculture on Small Farms - Brian Gallimore

The presentation will include an introduction and overview of what Permaculture is and what the aims are.  We will offer ideas for implementing Permaculture principals and elements in a farm application to increase income and provide higher quality outputs.


 11:15am –

Farm Bill Session - Judith McGeary, FARFA

Get the latest news about what’s in the works for the 2012 Farm Bill, from agribusiness subsidies to organics to local foods.  The second half of the session will be a listening session, so that you can provide input on what issues you’d like to see TOFGA and FARFA work on during the 2012 Farm Bill debates.  Pizza will be provided so that you can have lunch before heading home.

12:30-1:00  Conference Closing

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