Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia’s USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Virginia Soil Health Coalition, Virginia Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) and community partners have organized an exceptional educational opportunity for farmers, market gardeners, food entrepreneurs, community advocates, nutrition and dining service directors, technical service providers, and anyone interested in strengthening Virginia’s food system from the soil up and the connections between nutrition, health and sustainability.
2014 Virginia Farm to Table Conference and In-Depth Soil Biology Training with Dr. Elaine Ingham
Dr. Elaine Ingham, a globally-recognized soil microbiologist and renowned soil management educator, will kick off the conference with a presentation on soil and community health. Her presentation will be followed by Dr. Amy Tucker, a preventative cardiologist with UVA Health System, who will speak on nourishing healthy people and communities. Dr. Elizabeth Dyck of Organic Growers’ Research and Information Sharing Network (OGRIN) will talk about integrating grains and cover crops into regional food systems as part of a $2 million NIFA-AFRI funded project in the Northeast.
Panels & Discussion Options for Day 1:
Practical Applications of Soil Health: Dr. Elaine Ingham with Rick Felker of Mattawoman Farms, Don Flegel of USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Eric Walter of Black Bear Composting
Opportunities & Challenges of Value-Added Grain, Feed, and Flour Production: Dr. Elizabeth Dyck with Corwyn Heatwole of Shenandoah Valley Organic, Chris Lawrence of USDA-NRCS, and Philip Witmer of Grazeland Dairy
Nutrition and Health from the Ground Up: Dr. Amy Tucker with Dr. Ted Butchart, ND and Permaculturalist with Virginia Natural Health, Anne Buzzelli, MS RD of BuzzNutrition, and Amy Hicks of Amy’s Garden
Labor Issues for Beginning & Start Up Farmers: Hosted by Dr. Kim Niewolny and Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition
On day two of the conference, attendees will have two track options: 1) the main conference agenda with a focus on scale, ethics, and market development featuring Ann Karlen of Fair Food Philly; Amish organic dairy farmer, naturalist and author David Kline; and concurrent afternoon panels and discussions with growers and practitioners; and 2) the intensive 6-hour soil biology training with Dr. Ingham.
David Kline is an organic dairy farmer from Holmes County, Ohio who has authored several books, including Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer’s Journal, Scratching the Woodchuck: Nature on an Amish Farm, Letters from Larksong: An Amish Naturalist Explores His Organic Farm, and other essays. He is also editor of Farming Magazine: People, Land and Community. David Kline will be speaking Tuesdayevening and be a conference resource speaker on Wednesday morning.
Panels & Discussion Options for Day 2:
Interacting With Institutions from Schools on Up: Ann Karlen of Fair Food Farmstand; Andrea Early with Harrisonburg City Public Schools and Virginia Farm to School Liaison; Danny Boyer of Four Winds Farm; and Patrick Simmons of UVA Health System; Moderated by Lauren Arbogast
Season Extension & Optimizing Markets: Chris Mullins of VCE, Greenhouse & Specialty Crops, VSU; Dr. Allen Straw with VT, Area Specialist Horticulture, Small Fruit & Specialty Crops; Clif Slade of VSU’s 43,560 Project Small Farm Outreach Program
Making Sure the Numbers Work for You: Tim long of Farm Credit of the Virginias; Betty Hoge of Central Virginia Small Business Development Center; Peter Callan, VCE Farm Business Management; Moderated by Dale Gardner
Veterans in Agriculture: Issues & Opportunities: Calvin Riggleman of Gourmet Central; Buck Holsinger of Holsinger Homeplace Farms; Wes Runion of USDA-NRCS; and Chip Jones of Stratford Hall Plantation Moderated by JB Daniel of USDA-NRCS
Gathering of Local, Regional, and State Food System Councils: Hosted by Kathi Colen Peck and Spencer Neale
Dr. Ingham of Soil Food Web will help “demystify” soil biology and explain the many ways promoting soil life can increase soil productivity and agricultural profitability. Dr. Ingham is the primary author of the excellent Soil Biology Primer, and is world-famous for providing information that is both technically rigorous and highly practical.
What is unique about this year’s conference is that we are trying to go more in-depth on the topic of soil health and biology. Therefore, the intensive soil biology training with Dr. Ingham will be repeated at two Virginia locations: Weyers Cave (Blue Ridge Community College) on Weds, Dec 3 and Petersburg (Virginia State University) on Thurs, Dec 4, 2014.
During the soil biology training, multiple VA famers with diverse operations and experience will also speak. Each day of training will include insights and case studies from at least three Virginia farmers who have been building soil health with cover crops, managed grazing, crop and livestock diversity, no-till, diverse rotations.
Anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of how the soil works should be interested in this event, from grassland managers to long-term no-tillers to organic gardeners.
The cost for the conference is $40 each day, but the soil biology training due to funding from Virginia’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Professional Development Program only $25 to attend.
In addition to a full day of mind-opening ideas from the speakers on food system topics, participants in the soil biology training will also get:
- Networking with other like-minded growers.
- A great meal made with food from local farms.
- Your own copy of the Soil Biology Primer ($20 value)
- For CCAs: 4.0 SW CEUs, 0.5 NM CEUs.
- For conservation planners: 4.0 NRCS CEUs
- For VA DCR-certified NMP planners: 4.0 CEUs