On January 18th, 2017, partners of the Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition gathered at the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, VA to network, share progress on current work, and discuss the future of the Coalition.
Since our last meeting in May 2016, the Coalition has been hard at work addressing various topics relevant to beginning farmers and ranchers in Virginia. Our critical action teams have held marketing training events for producers and service providers, created brochures to advertise land transfer resources, and spoken with military veterans across the state in an effort to begin a Virginia chapter of the Farmer Veteran Coalition. Our evaluation team has been working with our partners to gain feedback on our current and previous Whole Farm Planning programs. Our seven 2015-2016 Mini-Grant projects have concluded, and six new projects have just begun.
We were happy to have our 2015-2016 Mini-Grant project leads join us to participate in a panel discussion. Each lead shared highlights from their projects and lessons they learned over the last year. Advice offered by these leads will be useful to our 2017 Mini-Grant project leads, as well as organizers of other projects that our Coalition partners hold across the state.
Our partners then spent the afternoon brainstorming and discussing the interesting things we learned during the meeting, how we can work better together to achieve our goals, and what we want to see happen for the Coalition in 2017.
So what exciting things do we have happening in 2017?
- Six new mini-grant projects happening all across the state
- Targeted work addressing: direct marketing, military veterans, land access, and stewardship best practices
- Farmer mentoring/networking opportunities connecting you with other experienced and beginning farmers and ranchers
- Webinars presented by a number of service providers and Coalition partners working in all areas of agriculture
- Blog posts written by Coalition partners on various Coalition and agriculture-related topics
- Continued updates provided through our website and social media accounts