Virginia Biological Farming Conference

February 8-9th, 2013

Healthy Soil, Healthy Crops, Healthy Livestock.

Conference Slides and Handouts

Conference Photos


The 2013 Conference took place in Richmond at the Holiday Inn-Koger Center. View photos here.

– Keynote speaker Karl Hammer of Vermont Compost Company described an Integrated System for Production of Poultry and Compost.

– Friday plenary featured Tradd Cotter of Mushroom Mountain discussing Using Mycorrhizae to Improve Soil Fertility and Plant Health

Speakers included:

* Kristin Kimball, author of The Dirty Life, and her husband Mark Kimball, on crop and soil management at Essex Farm in New York, where they run a complete diet CSA.

* Pam Dawling, of Twin Oaks in Louisa, VA and author of Sustainable Market Farming, on Vegetable/Cover Crop Rotation

* Jeff Lowenfels, author of Teaming with Microbes, for a primer on the soil food web

* Kit Pharo of Cheyenne Wells, CO, on minimum input beef cattle production

Full sessions schedule found here.


VABF Workshops Preceded the Va Biological Farming Conference

Thursday, February 7th, 2013 

Separate from the Conference itself, VABF is hosting two workshops and Farm Tours. (Registration is separate but located on the same webpage for your convenience.)

Need more specific, in-depth training? Need to see first-hand how working farms operate? VABF is hosting two day-long workshops and two farm tour options on the Thursday immediately preceding the conference. Workshops take place at and tours depart from the same hotel/conference center as the Conference.

Farm School for Beginners: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

We are hosting a One Day Farm School course, utilizing the Whole Farm Planning curriculum developed as part of the Virginia Beginner Farmer and Rancher Coalition from Virginia Tech. The course is designed for those with 10 years or less farming experience, and includes presentations from successful farmers as well as extensive hand-outs and resources from the Whole Farm Planning curriculum. Complementary Farm Tour component on Friday morning. $75 – Lunch is included. 

Farm School – Advanced Vegetable Production: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Now that you’ve been growing awhile, it’s time to develop your intermediate to higher level growing techniques from long-time farmer, Charlie Collins.  Owner of Victory Farms, Inc., Charlie has grown for restaurants and farmer’s markets in Phoenix, Arizona and Richmond, Virginia for nearly 20 years, most recently running a 400+ member CSA.  His methods yield significant production and very high quality.  He has been Certified Naturally Grown for all 10 of CNG’s years as a farmer-run certification program. With specific focus on vegetables, greens, herbs, and vining fruits, Charlie will offer insight into medium to large-scale production, harvesting and storage techniques, transportation and distribution, and farm business management. He will also talk about how to establish workable roles on the farm to avoid burn out, delegating to employees, interns or volunteers, and the cycle of a farm and CSA over several years.  Discussion is encouraged so bring your questions! Minimum enrollment required. $85 members, $95 non-members – Lunch is included. 

Farm Tours: We will depart from the Holiday Inn-Koger Center at 9 am.

$40 members, $45 non-members. Lunch and transportation provided.

Choose one:

Option 1: Commercial Compost, and Dairy/Poultry/Pork/Beef 

We will visit Watkins Nurseries‘ commercial compost operation Next stop will be Avery’s Branch Farms in Amelia, where the Alexander family tend a herd of dairy cows and raise grass-fed beef and poultry, in addition to pastured layers and pork. $40 members, $45 non-members – Lunch is included. 

Option 2: Hydroponics,

and Vegetable Production (High Tunnel and Over-wintering)

We will visit Windmill Produce Farm’s two greenhouses growing hydroponic lettuces, herbs, and microgreens. Next stop will be Twin Oaks Community‘s two-acre vegetable operation, which provides most food for 100 people year round through the use of their two greenhouses. Twin Oaks’ Garden Manager, Pam Dawling, has just written a book (Sustainable Market Gardening) and is also presenting during the conference. $40 members, $45 non-members –  Lunch is included. 


~ * The Virginia Biological Farming Conference is co-hosted by Virginia State University and the Virginia Association for Biological Farming. * ~