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VABF 2012 Pre-Conference Workshop "Starting a New Farm Enterprise"
Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 9:00 AM - Friday, February 10, 2012 at 11:00 AM (EST)
The Virginia Association for Biological Farming (VABF) is the primary organization in the state of Virginia concerned with organic and biological farming and gardening.
This year’s annual conference, Transitioning to Organic Agriculture, will feature two plenary sessions, breakout sessions, a trade show, fabulous food and great networking. To read a write-up on last year's conference, which includes pictures, click HERE. This year's annual conference is scheduled for February 10th and 11th, and will be held at the Holiday Inn Koger Center South Conference Center in Richmond, Virginia.
This year, VABF is offering a stand-alone Pre-Conference - Starting a New Farm Enterprise, that is designed to appeal to beginning or aspiring farmers. This all day workshop will feature resources and tools that beginning or aspiring farmers need to consider in order to develop a successful farming enterprise. Several farmers will share their knowledge and expertise with their own farming endeavors. This year's pre-conference is sponsored by Farm Credit, the Experts in Rural Finance!
Workshop participants will travel by bus to the Farm Tour on Friday, February 10th, leaving from the Holiday Inn Koger Center at 8:00am and returning at 11:30am. Farm Tour participants who are not taking the workshop on Thursday, February 9th are responsible for their own transportation to and from the tour. Click HERE for directions to Agriberry.
Thursday, February 9th, 2012
8:30 - 9:00am Registration/Check-in
9:00 - 9:15am Welcome and Overview
9:15 - 10:30am Session 1 - Finding Your Farming Niche
10:30 - 10:45am Break
10:45 - 12:15pm Session 2 - The Waterpenny Story - Secrets of our Success
12:15 - 1:30pm Lunch
1:30 - 2:15pm Session 3 - Grass Fed Tales
2:15 - 2:30pm Break
2:30 - 3:30pm Session 4 - Reducing the Risk of Farming
3:30 - 4:00pm Session 5 - Resources for Beginning Farmers & Ranchers
4:00 - 4:30pm Q&A / Wrap-up
Friday, February 10th, 2012
9:00 - 10:30am Tour of Agriberry CSA and Farm - Mechanicsville, VA
Agriberry was started in 2008, by Anne Geyer with the support of a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant and a mission to empower a new generation of farmers. On 10 acres leased land along the Pamunkey river,“Team Agriberry” grows 17 varieties of sustainably grown raspberries and blackberries. In addition to their own berries, Agriberry also provides sustainably grown asparagus, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, cherries, plums, melons, lopes, pears, and apples, direct from local growers that the Geyer family knows and trusts. The products are marketed through a popular CSA Membership Program, as well as through local farmers markets. The Agriberry Farm Tour will cover: raspberry and blackberry varieties, irrigation, fertigation, solar power, cultural practices, trellis and training, and production. Click HERE for directions to Agriberry.
This workshop is brought to you by the Virginia Association for Biological Farming. ChiknEGG Productions, LLC, is the event manager for this Pre-Conference workshop ONLY. For additional information regarding this Pre-Conference workshop, contact ChiknEGG via email or phone: firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 314-9141. For additional information regarding the upcoming VABF Annual Conference, please visit the VABF website.
Seating for the pre-conference is limited to 30 participants, so don't delay - register NOW!
Details about our presentations and speakers:
Session 1 - Finding Your Farming Niche
During this presentation, trainer Betsy Trice will illustrate the important role that internships and volunteer work play in helping to find one's own niche before beginning a farming enterprise. She will give valuable and practical tips on how to discover and develop your unique niche in the marketplace, and will share how to uncover potential profitable enterprises. Betsy’s many experiences as a volunteer, intern, CSA manager, an organic market gardener and her education and experience in raising poultry will encourage and inspire us all.
Betsy Trice is an Adjunct Instructor for the Sustainable Agriculture courses at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. She has worked on as well as managed various market gardens and pastured poultry operations since 2003. Her farming experience includes managing the 40 member CSA organic garden and pastured poultry enterprise for Heifer International's educational ranch, and market garden and pastured poultry production for Farm Girl Natural Foods (Perryville, AR). She also spent time gardening, marketing, and tending poultry at Brookview Farm in Manakin-Sabot, Va. She and her husband are currently working on developing their own farm in Hadensville, Virginia.
Session 2 - The Waterpenny Story - Secrets of our Success
Rachel Bynum and her husband Eric Plaksin learned to farm by working at Wheatland Vegetable farms for several seasons. Their farm has been their full-time occupation and sole source of income for over 12 years. The farm has a unique 40-year lease on land in Sperryville, Virginia, which allows Rachel and Eric to farm in a prime growing and marketing area without having to have an unaffordable mortgage. Produce from the farm is all direct marketed, mostly at Farmer's Markets and through a CSA in the Washington, DC area. Rachel will be sharing the keys to the farms success.
Waterpenny Farm is a 10-acre vegetable farm in Rappahannock County, VA. Since their first growing season in 2000, Rachel Bynum and her husband Eric Plaksin have been committed to running their farm in harmony with the environment, using sustainable farming methods, with no chemical pesticides or fertilizers. The farm produces healthful, pesticide-free vegetables and flowers for farmers markets, a CSA subscription program and local on-farm customers. Their CSA serves people in the Washington, DC area, Northern Virginia and Rappahannock County, Virginia.
Session 3 - Grass Fed Tales
Whether it is checking on cattle or pulling a calf, making sales or deciding what is best for the business, fixing a tractor or checking on the bass population in the pond, Bruce stays busy as a full time farmer. Hear about the joys and challenges of the work he enjoys so much as Bruce speaks about his experience managing a grass fed beef and lamb, direct marketing operation in Hanover County. He will discuss starting the business, production, marketing, growing the business, continuing education and goals. This is to be an interactive talk for beginning and aspiring farmers, so please come with your questions.
Bruce Johnson is owner and manager of Dragonfly Farms in Beaverdam, Virginia where he produces and direct markets grass fed beef and lamb and has a horse boarding operation. Bruce works with Belted Galloway, a heritage breed, and Angus to develop a herd of cattle that perform well on grass in his system and environment, and he has started a flock of Katahdin sheep for lamb. Including rented and owned land, he manages 150 acres of pasture and some additional hay fields. Dragonfly Farms has been in business since 2007 and before this Bruce was working in the landscape and nursery business.
Session 4 - Reducing the Risk of Farming
Chris Cook of Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation and Rural Sustainability (Virginia FAIRS) will explore how Virginia FAIRS can provide technical and financial assistance, as well as traditional and innovation solutions through their Virtual Business Center. Virginia FAIRS can assist with feasibility studies, business and strategic planning, data analysis and other risk related processes related specifically to agriculture that can assist farmers in developing sound, long-term models for building successful farming enterprises. Chris will also address how a farm’s legal structure at its onset can affect decisions that need to be made in future years.
Christopher I. Cook, is the Assistant Director of Rural Development for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. He acts as the Executive Director for the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation and Rural Sustainability (Virginia FAIRS). He is as an agricultural enterprise development advisor with a broad range of planning, business creation and development skills, as well as strategic expertise. Mr. Cook has over twenty five years agricultural experience including organizing and developing farmer-owned start-up businesses, with a strong background in facilitating agricultural value added entitles through strategic planning. He has completed numerous feasibility studies and business plans in many areas of the agricultural industry including wine production, renewable fuels and meat processing in Virginia. His work experience covers two continents. He farmed in the United Kingdom and was Managing Director of a 1,000-acre farm producing beef and small grains. His education includes a post baccalaureate certificate in accounting, the Certified Economic Development Financial Professional designation from the National Development Council, KY, and a Masters Business Administration from the College of William & Mary.
Session 5 - Resources for Beginning Farmers & Ranchers
Part 1 - Kevin Schmidt is the Coordinator for Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’s Office of Farmland Preservation (OFP). During this short presentation, Kevin will share valuable resources that are available through the OFP that can assist beginning and aspiring farmers who are in search of business arrangements through which they can acquire land, equipment, experience and access to the knowledge of seasoned producers.
Part 2 - Kathleen O'Hara, representing the Virginia Association for Biological Farming, will introduce a new, collaborative effort that reaches across Virginia to improve educational opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers to establish and sustain viable agricultural operations called the Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Project. VABF is one of several coalition organizations that was awarded grant-based funding to support beginning farmers and ranchers through whole farm planning outreach and education, online resources and tools, and farmer-to-farmer mentoring.
Using a self-assessment approach, educational topics center on whole farm planning in such focus areas as business planning and financial management, land acquisition and tenure, marketing, sustainable farming practices, and farm safety and health. Developing farmer mentor and social networking opportunities are also key project aims to help farmers gain vital skills, information, technical assistance, and business capacity for long-term agricultural viability.
If you want to stay informed about the coalition’s project activities using social media, follow us on Facebook or subscribe to our listserv. VABF will keep you informed of our upcoming VBFRP educational opportunities in the months to come!
Our wrap-up session will include lots of hand-outs and information about local, state and national resources geared towards beginning and aspiring farmers.
Seating for the pre-conference is limited to 30 participants, so don't delay - register NOW!
When & Where
ChiknEGG Productions, LLC
ChiknEGG Productions, LLC is a privately run company that supports sustainable agriculture and our local food system. The owner, Lisa Dearden, has been involved with agricultural education and advocacy for about 10 years and currently runs a large producer only farmers market in Goochland County, VA.
ChiknEGG Productions promotes Sustainable Agriculture & FOOD - growing, selling, cooking, preserving, eating & celebrating food and our food system! We are the Educational Go Getters!
ChiknEGG - Connecting Farmers and Friends!