Professional development opportunity – 2015 Virginia Farm to Table Conference

Dear Extension colleagues:

I hope you are doing well. The 2015 Virginia Farm to Table Conference – “Strengthening Your Foodshed, Protecting Our Watersheds” has been approved as a professional development opportunity for Extension personnel. As an approved VCE training, lodging and meals not provided at the event will be covered by VCE professional development funds. Cheryl Cox in Bobby Grisso’s office can help with coding for travel and reimbursement. Mileage needs to be covered by local unit funds.

Additionally, registration fees for up to 20 agents will be covered by the Virginia SARE program on a first come, first serve basis. To register for these spaces, please email me (ebendfel@vt.edu) or Lauren Arbogast (laurena1@vt.edu) at your earliest convenience.

  • When: Thursday, Dec. 3 and Friday, Dec. 4, 2015  Note: There is a pre-conference tour planned for Wednesday, Dec. 2
  • Where: Blue Ridge Community College’s Plecker Workforce Center, One College Lane, Weyers Cave, Virginia 24486.
  • Cost: $40 per day
  • Register online at https://goo.gl/xqX8z2

The conference will feature engaging and inspirational speakers with broad experience and knowledge of food, farming, and the environment including Dennis Keeney of Keeney Place and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; 2014 James Beard Leadership Award Winner Karen Washington of Rise and Root Farm; Chuck Benbrook of Benbrook Consulting Services; Robin Morris, executive director of Mad River Food Hub; and Ellen Polishuk of Potomac Vegetable Farms.

There will be three specific concurrent session tracks each day as part of the conference where producers and practitioners share their local and regional expertise on practical applications of soil and water health; making money in the middle and finding your niche; and local food for all.

What is unique about this year’s conference?

  • There will be a full day preconference tour of local farms and agribusinesses on Wednesday, Dec. 2 for a close-up look at and discussion with Mt. Crawford Creamery, Friendly City Food Co-op, Rocktown Food Trucks, T & E Meats, and Showalter’s Orchard and Greenhouse and Old Hill Cider. This chartered tour will offer insight to the successes and challenges by local farms and agribusinesses that are stepping outside the traditional box.
  • On Thursday evening, the Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition will host an informational and networking mixer. This free event will be off site at the Union Station Restaurant and Bar in downtown Harrisonburg the evening of Dec. 3. The event is open to individuals looking for support in the very beginning or early stages of their farming trajectory, or seasoned producers that also want to network and mingle. Refreshments will be available from 7-9 p.m. Come join the networking fun!

Anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of community, local and regional food systems should plan to attend.

We are currently inquiring about continuing education credits for nutrient management planners and crop advisors

Best regards,

Eric Bendfeldt

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