Our local farms are vital to West Virginia’s food system, but despite the growing demand for locally sourced foods, our small farm community still faces plenty of challenges.
To continue supporting our state’s producers, the West Virginia University Extension Small Farm Center will host its annual West Virginia Small Farm Conference from Feb. 22-25. After being held virtually for two years, this year’s conference is once again being held at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center in Charleston, West Virginia.
“Our small farms face trials and triumphs every year, but with the pandemic and rising costs, the last few years have posed a lot of additional challenges as farmers tried to keep up with demands,” Lisa Jones, WVU Extension Small Farm Center program coordinator, said. “We were happy to maintain connections and offer learning opportunities through the virtual conferences, but we are so excited to host an in-person conference again this year and bring our state’s farming community back together.”
With a variety of classes available, attendees will learn how to adapt their enterprises to meet the rising demand for local foods. There also will be more traditional offerings to help small farmers increase the profitability of their operations, from vegetable production to value-added products.
“Farmers from West Virginia and beyond are invited to take advantage of this opportunity to participate in the conference and learn more about how they can run their operations more efficiently and profitably,” Jones added.
For adults, the cost of attendance is $75 per day on Thursday and Friday and $50 on Saturday. For students, the cost is $40 per day.
Youths also are welcome to attend the conference with their family for a flat rate of $15 per child. Interactive learning activities will be available to youths of all ages, giving them a chance to have fun with agriculture, too.
At the start of the conference, a variety of specialized, intensive workshops are available for an additional cost. On Wednesday and Thursday, the Better Process Control School for acidified foods is offered at a cost of $300. On Wednesday only, the Food Safety Modernization Act produce safety alliance grower training will be available at a cost of $60.
Registration information and other conference details be found at https://extension.wvu.edu/small-farm-conference.
The cost of attendance includes all conference meals, which are prepared with locally sourced ingredients from West Virginia farmers, further demonstrating the values at the heart of the conference.
The popular Winter Blues Farmers Market, a collaboration with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, also takes place during the conference and is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 25 from 1-5 p.m. The public is invited and encouraged to attend the Winter Blues Farmers Market.
The conference also focuses on partnerships, not only from farmer to farmer, but also farmer to supplier and agriculture service provider. Many sponsors have helped make the conference possible, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service, West Virginia Department of Education, and West Virginia Department of Agriculture.
CONTACT: Hannah Booth
Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications