We hope you have your calendars marked and plan to attend the 2018 Virginia Farm to Table Conference. Virginia Cooperative Extension, in partnership with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition, Virginia Sustainable Agriculture Research Education (SARE), Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), and community partners, present the seventh annual Virginia Farm to Table Conference on December 5 – 6, 2018 at Blue Ridge Community College’s Plecker Workforce Development Center in Weyers Cave, VA.
Speakers and panelists will address and share their experiences about the microbial roots of life and health, agricultural behavioral health, food security, food and farm justice, growing their market, food system development, silvopasture, agroforestry, and intensive greenhouse and high tunnel production!
The conference planning committee is pleased to have Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring open the conference on Day 1. Dr. Ed Jones director of Virginia Cooperative Extension and Jack Bricker state conservationist of Virginia’s USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service will kick-off Day 2 with a discussion about collaboration and working together.
The conference planning committee has put together a good core of speakers and has made significant progress on the agenda. Trainers and speakers who may be of interest to you and your organization include these experts:
- Dr. Mike Rosmann, Clinical Psychologist of Agricultural Behavioral Health and fourth generation farmer from Harlan, Iowa
- The Reverend Dr. Heber Brown III, Senior Pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church and founder of the Black Church Food Security Network in Baltimore, Maryland
- Dr. David Montgomery, Professor of Geomorphology at the University of Washington and author of Dirt: The erosion of civilizations, The hidden half of nature: The microbial roots of life and health, and A growing revolution: Bringing our soil back to life
- Anne Bikle, Biologist and Landscape Architect of Dig2Grow and co-author of The hidden half of nature: The microbial roots of life and health
- Michael Reilly, Co-founder and Executive Director of Slow Money Central Virginia
- Dr. Elsa Sanchez, Professor of Horticultural Systems Management at Penn State University
- Dr. Beth Gugino, Associate Professor of Vegetable Pathology at Penn State University
- Hana Newcombe, Co-owner of Potomac Vegetable Farms
- Steve Gabriel, Co-founder of Wellspring Forest Farm and agroforestry specialist with Cornell University Extension and author of Silvopasture and Farming in the Woods
- Mark Dempsey, Farm Services Coordinator of Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
- Patryck Battle, Gardener and Cook of Living Web Farms
- Kirk Ballin, Program Coordinator of AgrAbility Virginia
- Beth O’Connor, Executive Director of Virginia Rural Health Association
- Karen Tanner, Extension Agent with Virginia Cooperative Extension
On Wednesday evening, there will be a public lecture and book signing with Dr. David Montgomery and Anne Bikle authors of Dirt: The erosion of civilizations, The hidden half of nature: The microbial roots of life and health, and A growing revolution: Bringing our soil back to life. An ice cream social and producer-buyer gathering will precede the public lecture.
More details about the conference will be coming soon but mark your calendars for December 5 and 6! You will be challenged and inspired!
The planning committee would like to hear your thoughts on the 2017 Virginia Farm to Table Conference – Let us know what you loved and what we can improve on.
We hope those that attended had a great time, made new connections, and took away ideas that can be applied to businesses and Virginia’s food system! A special thank you to our attendees, speakers, moderators, sponsors, and partners for making this Conference the best yet!
Online Registration is now available at https://tinyurlcom/VAF2T2017!
By Liz Kirchner, Eric Bendfeldt, and French Price
Pull up a chair. Gathering this winter, appropriately in the breadbasket of the Shenandoah Valley, is Virginia’s fifth annual Farm-to-Table Conference inviting you to join farmers, chefs, food historians, scientists, community development specialist — an ecology of food systems thinkers and ground-breakers — to join the conversation and emerging action around local food. If that doesn’t whet your appetite, here are five more reasons why you should take your seat at the table.
5) Pre-Conference Tour of Shenandoah Valley farms and farm-to-table initiatives on Tuesday, December 6.
4) Producer-Buyer Networking Event on Wednesday, December 7, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. There will be food product samples, free handouts and information, and… FREE ICE CREAM!!!!
3) Great Conversation Shared over Yummy Local Food! — A Bowl of Good will again cater the event and be sourcing as much of the food and drink from the Shenandoah Valley as possible. Expect to leave the conference feeling not just well fed, but nourished with great conversation and foods that were raised with care by farmers who are also attending the conference.
2) Ellen Kahler of Vermont Farm to Plate and the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund and other thought-provoking speakers and practitioners such as Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farm, Chef Michael Twitty, Reverend Nancy Yarnell, and Glyen Holmes of the New North Florida Cooperative.
1) Dr. Ricardo Salvador, Director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Food and Environment Program, will be opening the conference and sharing his insights and expertise on the challenging question “Does the ‘Food System’ Need Fixing?”.
So join us at the 2016 Virginia Farm to Table Conference and discover your own reasons!
By Liz Kirchner (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Every morning, farmers and researchers all over Virginia – all over the nation, really – stand in their pastures, forests, vineyards, breweries, warehouses, and fields thinking, “I’ll bet I can improve my system to be more economically viable, more environmentally sound, and better not just for my own family, but for everyone in my community. What if I could make that change?”
I’m Liz Kirchner, Virginia’s education support specialist for the USDA’s Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant program. It’s grant funding like SARE’s, and the networking and technical support that come with it, that make those “What if”s realities.
Right now, producers and researchers throughout Virginia are using SARE grants to explore and make evidence-based changes to their farming systems and marketing approaches. They’re improving adoption of agroforestry and silvopasture systems in the Shenandoah Valley, integrating row covers into specialty crop systems in the Coastal Plain, and investigating the profitability of organic baby ginger production in the Appalachians.
As education support and outreach specialist, my job is to improve access to SARE educational opportunities and grant funding. I come to SARE with agronomy degrees from two land-grant universities and a career in editing and communication. I’ll be shaking hands, producing multimedia content, and talking about SARE, so that farmers and researchers all over Virginia can ask those “What if…” questions every morning, then answer them, increasing our knowledge of sustainable techniques, moving us all closer to sustainable food systems that support profitability, environmental stewardship, and social well-being all over Virginia – the whole nation, really.
Contact me with questions and ideas about SARE and healthy food access at email@example.com.
Mark Your Calendars!
Virginia Cooperative Extension, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Agua Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Virginia Food System Council, Blue Ridge Community College, Virginia Foundation for Agricultural Innovation and Rural Sustainability (VAFAIRS), Virginia Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (VDACS) Virginia Grown, Farm Credit of the Virginias’ Knowledge Center, USDA Rural Development, Chesapeake Foodshed Network, Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, Virginia Division of Energy, T & E Meats, Frazier Quarry, Rockingham Group, Allegheny Mountain Institute, Houff’s Feed and Fertilizer, and community partners present the 2016 Virginia Farm to Table Conference on December 6 – 8, 2016. This year’s conference will start with an optional pre-conference tour of farms and food businesses in Staunton and Augusta County on Tuesday, December 6.
The formal conference will be held at Blue Ridge Community College’s Plecker Workforce Development Center in Weyers Cave, Virginia on Wednesday and Thursday.
Confirmed resource speakers and panelists to-date include the following:
This year’s conference will again feature a time for producers and buyers to network and a Young/Young at Heart and Emerging Farmer and Rancher Networking Mixer on Wednesday evening.
The conference will also provide in-depth training on soil health, whole-farm budgeting, and strategic food system planning.
The working agenda is now available and will be updated periodically. A registration link to Blue Ridge Community College online class registration platform will be available in the near future. For businesses and organizations that would like to financially support the conference through sponsorship or exhibitor opportunities, please contact Eric Bendfeldt of Virginia Cooperative Extension at 540.432.6029 Ext. 106.