We hope you have your calendars marked and plan to attend the 2019 Virginia Farm to Table Conference. The theme for this year is servant leadership and courageous conversation. Virginia Cooperative Extension, in partnership with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Virginia Sustainable Agriculture Research Education (SARE), Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), LD&B Insurance and Financial Services, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Virginia Foundation of Agricultural Innovation and Rural Sustainability (VAFAIRS), and community partners present the eighth annual Virginia Farm to Table Conference on Thursday, December 5 and Friday, December 6, 2019, at Blue Ridge Community College’s Plecker Workforce Development Center in Weyers Cave, VA.
The planning committee is pleased to have Virginia’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Jewel H. Bronaugh, Ph.D., open the conference on Day 1. Dan Goerlich, Ph.D., associate director of Virginia Cooperative Extension will kick-off Day 2 with remarks on service, leadership, and conversation.
The planning committee has put together a solid core of speakers and practitioners for the two-day conference. Speakers and practitioners who may be of interest to you and your organization include:
- Elnian Glibert of ZingTrain
- Bob Muth of Muth Family Farm
- Dr. Timothy Woods of the University of Kentucky
- Amani Olugbala of Soul Fire Farm
- Danial Austin of Green Sprig Ag
- Charlie Wade of Deep Roots Milling
- Sarah Cohen of Route 11 Potato Chips
- Nancy Bruns of J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works and J. Q. Dickinson Appalachain Mercantile
- Keith Ohlinger of Heritage Hill Farm
- J. B. Daniel of Virginia USDA-NRCS
- Matt Booher of Virginia Cooperative Extension
- And Others.
Speakers and panelists will address and share their experiences about The Art of Giving Great Service, Servant Leadership, Bottomline Organizational Change, Soil Management for Organic Farmers, Livestock and Grazing Management, Courageous Conversation: The What and How?, Nuts and Bolts of Values-Based Farming and Marketing, Growing and Marketing Small Fruit, and Dismantling Biases. There will be four value chain case studies presented during the concurrent sessions including Route 11 Potato Chips, Common Grain Alliance, and others. Additionally, participants will have the flexibility for water cooler conversations and follow-up with conference speakers.
On Thursday evening, there will be Farm-to-Table Networking at the Granary at Valley Pike Farm Market with hors d’oeuvres and live music.
More details about the conference will be coming soon but mark your calendars for December 5 and 6! You will be challenged and inspired!
Learn more and register at https://tinyurl.com/2019VAF2TRegistration
Here is the 2018 Virginia Farm-to-Table Conference Program for your reference and consideration. The program is available to download at https://wp.me/a2Lx3m-um
Early bird registration rates end November 30 so please visit https://tinyurl.com/VAFT2018 to register and save!
With continued interest in local and regional foods, there are emerging opportunities to advance food innovations and entrepreneurs. On Thursday, December 6 at the Virginia Farm to Table Conference, there will be two workshop sessions on the ins and outs of packaging and bottling local and regional foods. The sessions will be coordinated by Virginia Food Works and Virginia Cooperative Extension and will feature Joell Eifert director of Virginia Tech’s Food Innovations Program. Dr. Theresa Nartea extension specialist with Virginia State University will join Joell and talk about different aspects of marketing and promoting your food products.
If you have a product sample that you would like Joell to test for you, please bring a sample with you to the workshops!
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 (email@example.com)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.