The 2016 Virginia Farm to Table Conference — a three-day event focused on local and regional food and agriculture, practical applications for soil health and farm profitability, and other food system topics — will be held from Dec. 6-8.

The fifth annual conference will be held at Blue Ridge Community College’s Plecker Workforce Development Center in Weyers Cave, Virginia. The event brings together community partners and engaging speakers who have broad experience and knowledge of food, farming, and the environment to talk about the farm-to-table movement and how you can get involved.

“The Virginia Farm to Table Conference continues to have something for everyone attracted to issues surrounding food, farms, health, and communities,” said Kathy Holm, USDA-NRCS assistant state conservationist for field operations. “We will have thought-provoking speakers, stimulating panel discussions, networking opportunities, and wonderful locally sourced food available.”

Early-bird registration pricing is available until Nov. 30, and rates will increase significantly after that.

More details and registration are available at the conference website.

This year, the following experts will offer their perspectives on the theme  of “Cultivating Healthy Farms and Resilient Communities”:

  • Ricardo Salvador of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Food and Environment Program;
  • Ellen Kahler of Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund and Vermont Farm to Plate;
  • Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farm; Rev. Nancy Yarnell of Food Security for America;
  • Chef Michael Twitty of Afroculinaria;
  • Lynn Trizna of Rodale Institute and St. Luke Hospital’s Farm;
  • and Glyen Holmes of New North Florida Cooperative.

The event will also premier a short video produced by AE Media entitled “Common Ground: A Profile of Soil Health from Waterpenny Farm” on Dec. 7.

Participants can select from specific concurrent session tracks in which producers and practitioners share their local and regional expertise; practical applications of soil and water health; making money in the middle: finding your niche; and local food for all.

Attendees can also participate in a preconference tour focusing on the agriculture and agribusiness opportunities within the Shenandoah Valley. The full day experience on Dec. 6 will provide unique experiences with local producers and experts. Stops include Cool Breeze Farm, the Allegheny Mountain Institute Urban Farm at Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind, and Sunrise Farms.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is again partnering with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Agua Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Virginia Food System Council, Blue Ridge Community College, Virginia Foundation for Agricultural Innovation and Rural Sustainability, Virginia Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Virginia Grown, Farm Credit of the Virginias' Knowledge Center, Chesapeake Foodshed Network, Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, Virginia Division of Energy, T & E Meats, Frazier Quarry, Rockingham Group, Allegheny Mountain Institute, Houff's Feed and Fertilizer, and community partners to organize the event.

For questions or if you need assistive devices to attend, please call 540-432-6029, extension 106 or 117, or email at least five days prior to the event.

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