Cultivating Healthy Farms and Resilient Communities!

Mark Your Calendars!

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Virginia Cooperative Extension, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Virginia Food System Council, Blue Ridge Community College, 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:

  • Dr. Ricardo Salvador of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Food and Environment Program
  • Ellen Kahler of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
  • Chef Michael Twitty of Afroculinaria
  • Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farm
  • Jeff Moyer of the Rodale Institute
  • Dr. Morris Henderson of 31st Street Baptist Church
  • Glyen Holmes of the New North Florida Cooperative
  • Jenna Clarke of Project Grows
  • Tony Kleese of Earthwise Organics
  • Dr. Marcia DeLonge of the Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Dr. Andrea Basche of the Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Maureen McNamara Best of Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP)
  • Trevor Piersol of Alleghany Mountain Institute Urban Farm at Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind
  • Brad Burrow of Artisan’s Hope
  • Katrina Didot of A Bowl of Good Cafe
  • Wendy Wenger Hochstetler of Wenger Grapes
  • Christy Huger of Mountain View Farm Products
  • John Garber of Red Front Supermarket
  • Dr. Andrew Wingfield of George Mason University and the Virginia Sustainable Food Coalition
  • Representative of Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community’s Farm at Willow Run
  • And others

This year’s conference will again feature a time for producers and buyers to network and a Young/Beginning 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 agenda and a registration link with more details 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.

2015 Speaker Focus: Robin Morris

The 2015 Virginia Farm to Table Conference is pleased to welcome Robin Morris for individual and panel presentations aligned with track 2. His expertise in food business and food hubs will contribute to his discussion, titled “Dollars and Sense of Food Hubs as a Community Initiative.”

Robin Morris

Robin Morris is the founder and owner of the Mad River Food Hub L3C, a licensed, shared use, vegetable and USDA meat processing, storage and distribution facility in Waitsfield Vermont. Robin has 30+ years of Business Management Experience in the private sector, the last 15 years with multiple foods related businesses including CFO at American Flatbread Company. Robin is the co-creator of Food Hub Management Program at UVM and a Trustee of the Vermont Land Trust.

2015 Speaker Focus: Ellen Polishuk

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Joining us for several presentations during the 2015 Virginia Farm to Table Conference is Ellen Polishuk of Potomac Vegetable Farms. Ellen will be presenting on Thursday, December 3rd on “Making Soil Health Come First – Building Your Ground While Staying Profitable in the Vegetable Business,” as well as participating in a track one panel discussion later in the day regarding the business case of food.

2015 Speaker Focus: Dr. Dennis Keeney

The 2015 Virginia Farm to Table Conference is pleased to welcome Dr. Dennis Keeney on day one of the conference, Thursday, December 3rd, for a presentation titled “Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems: Moving Forward for All.”

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Dr. Keeney grew up on a dairy farm in Iowa, and is currently owner of the Keeney Place, and a Senior Advisor at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).

To view a more detailed biography on Dr. Keeney, please click HERE to be redirected to the IATP page.

To view a previous presentation by Dr. Keeney, please click HERE.

2015 Speaker Focus: Karen Washington

Joining us for the 2015 Virginia Farm to Table Conference is Karen Washington, the “Queen of Urban Gardening.” Karen will give several presentations on Day 1 of the conference, Thursday, December 3rd.

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Karen Washington is a community activist, a community gardener and board member of the New York Botanical Gardens. Karen has worked with Bronx neighborhoods to turn empty lots into community gardens. She is a member of the La Familia Verde Garden Coalition, helped launched a City Farms Market, is a Just Food board member, a board member and former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition and she co- founded Black Urban Growers (BUGS).

Karen helps manage Rise and Root Farm, and was a 2014 James Beard Leadership Award Winner.

Join Us at the 2015 Virginia Farm to Table Conference!

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The 2015 Virginia Farm to Table Conference is set for an interactive, informative launch the first week of December. Join us for the two day conference on Thursday and Friday, December 3 and 4, or make plans to include the pre-conference tour on Wednesday, December 2nd. Registration is available online HERE and in paper format, and if you are traveling, accommodations that we recommend are on this page.

Be sure to check out our many sponsors and community partnerships that make this annual conference possible! If you have questions regarding the conference, please call Eric Bendfeldt at 540/432-6029 x 106 or Lauren Arbogast at 540/432-6029 x117.

We look forward to seeing you in December!

Download Registration in PDF Here

2015: Track 3: Food for All

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The 2015 Virginia Farm to Table conference schedule features three distinct tracks: practical applications of soil and water health, making money in the middle – finding your niche, and local food for all – building connections for food justice. This post will feature track two: Making Money in the Middle – Finding your Niche. To review track one, please click here, and to review track two, click here.

Within the local and community foods movement is a deep desire to feed everyone high quality, fresh, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food. This track features discussion from food justice and innovative community food system programs from across Virginia.

Please go to the schedule post for specific track, speaker, and date details.

Register Online Through Eventbrite

2015: Track 2: Making Money in the Middle

Local Farmer Cow

The 2015 Virginia Farm to Table conference schedule features three distinct tracks: practical applications of soil and water health, making money in the middle – finding your niche, and local food for all – building connections for food justice. This post will feature track two: Making Money in the Middle – Finding your Niche. To review track one, please click here. Track Three will be discussed in a future post.

Farms and agribusinesses of mid-scale size and income range can struggle with identity and financial success. Join the conversation with local, state, and national practitioners who have had success in finding a foothold in various sized food and agricultural markets.

Please go to the schedule post for specific track, speaker, and date details.

Register Online Through Eventbrite

2015: Track 1: Soil & Water Health

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The 2015 Virginia Farm to Table conference schedule features three distinct tracks: practical applications of soil and water health, making money in the middle – finding your niche, and local food for all – building connections for food justice. This post will feature track one: Practical Applications of Soil and Water Health. Future posts will delve into the other tracks.

The 2014 conference and overall soil health focus is the precursor to the soil and water health track in 2015. This track features Virginia experts and farmers sharing their perspectives, approaches, and advice on practical soil health management for water conservation and farm economic viability.

Please go to the schedule post for specific track, speaker, and date details.

Register Online Through Eventbrite

2015 Pre-Conference Tour

New this year is the addition of a pre-conference tour that will showcase some of the farms and agribusinesses in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley! Join us for a full day of on-farm experiences on Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015.

Click to Download the Tour Schedule in PDF

Hours: 9:30am – 5:30 pm

Cost: $40 (*tour registration closes on 11/20/15!)

The first stop of the tour will be the unique Mt. Crawford Creamery, a local dairy and on-farm processing plant and store. Hear how brothers Kenny and Frank Will went from a conventional dairy to on-farm processing. Get up close and personal with some cute calves, view the entire milk-to-shelf process, and sample their non-homogenized milk. Yum!

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The next stop will involve lunch and a stop at Harrisonburg’s own cooperative grocery store – Friendly City Food Co-op. Several friends from around town will be joining us there to bring more tour to you – stay tuned for more details! *Please note that there will be several lunch options to suit your taste and dietary needs, and lunch will be on your own.

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From the co-op, we will travel to Showalter’s Orchard & Greenhouse, home of Old Hill Cider. This family orchard and farm will showcase not only their stunning Valley views, but their story of adaptability and resilience through change. From the orchard, to on-farm crops like pumpkins and sunflowers, to their gift shop, on-farm hard cider, and their newest addition of hydroponic greens – Showalter’s will keep us busy during our last stop of the day.

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After Showalter’s, enjoy a nice bus ride back to Blue Ridge Community College with memories (and goodies!) from the day.

Join us for this fantastic conference option! Online registration available below.

Register Online Through Eventbrite