Anyone interested in local and regional food and agriculture, practical applications for soil health and farm profitability, and other food system topics, should attend the sixth annual 2017 Virginia Farm to Table Conference on Dec. 6-7.

The conference, which will feature speakers with broad experience and knowledge of food, farming, and pressing social, environmental, and health issues, will be at Blue Ridge Community College’s Plecker Workforce Development Center, Weyers Cave, Virginia.

The event is put on in partnership with Virginia Cooperative Extension.

“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. I urge everyone to visit the website to review the detailed agenda of conference offerings.”

Featured speakers and panelists include Diane Imrie, director of nutrition services, University of Vermont Medical Center; Jack and Anne Lazor, of Butterworks Farm; Elnian Gilbert, of ZingTrain and Zingerman’s Community of Businesses; Shorlette Ammons, of North Carolina State University’s Center for Environmental Farming Systems; Tim Woods, of the University of Kentucky; Andrew Mefferd, of Growing for Market and author of the Greenhouse and Hoophouse Handbook; Robin ‘Buz’ Kloot, of the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health; and other panelists.

Elnian Gilbert, of Zingtrain and Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, will be offering multiple sessions on the art of giving great service for hospitality, community, and agricultural service providers. Relevant across industries, these sessions will discuss the importance of better serving customers, clients, and colleagues by incorporating the principle into the culture of the organization.

Participants can select from five different concurrent session tracks in which producers and practitioners share their local and regional expertise. Panels and presentations during these concurrent sessions cover a variety of topics ranging, from technical tips for sustainable agriculture production to inspiring stories of regional cooperation for food justice and equity.

There will be several sessions for producers investigating potential marketing channels, such as farm to hospital, schools, and wholesale, and tips for entry into these markets. Conference attendees will have an opportunity to sprout relationships and enjoy local foods at the Virginia Farm to Table Local Food Expo and Networking Reception at Valley Pike Farm Market Dec. 6.

Early bird registration pricing is available until Nov. 30, and rates will increase significantly after this date. More details regarding the conference and registration are available at the conference website, For questions or if you need assistive devices to attend, please call 540-432-6029, extension 106 or 117, at least five days prior to the event. For more information, contact Eric Bendfeldt at 540-432-6029 x 106 or