Upcoming Farm Tours and Workshops



Radical Roots Farm Tour and Plant Sale 

Keezletown, Virginia
April 19th 10am-4pm 

Radical Roots Farm is hosting a tour of their five-acre market garden with water catchment swales, food forest, permanent raised beds and of course an abundant plant nursery.  Certified Organic vegetable and herb potted plants for sale from 10 am-4 pm with free farm tour at2:30. Additionally a class on Organic Gardening for Success (offered through the Friendly City Food Coop) will be offered at 1pm



Broadfork Farm and Spring Farm Tour and Plant Sale 

Chesterfield, VA
April 26, 2:00 – 5:00pm (guided tour at 3:00)

Tours describe our Certified Naturally Grown farming practices, including permanent raised beds on contour, high-tunnel cultivation, cover crops, farm-scale composting, bio-intensive planting, organic soil management, mulch for weed-suppression and other weed management practices, pest management, and macro- and micro-nutrient management.
See Broadfork Farm’s Events Page for more information. 



Sustainable Gardening Training Series with Mark Schonbeck

Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center
May 3July 30, and October 4

The Catawba Sustainability Center presents the Sustainable Gardening Training Series with Mark Schonbeck. These workshops will provide support to gardeners and small farm producers throughout the growing season by addressing common issues and practices at the beginning, middle, and end of the growing season. Held at the Catawba Sustainability Center, each workshop will be composed of a classroom session and field session.

Saturday • May 3 • 2 – 5 p.m.

Preparing for Planting: Planning, Soil Amendments, Seedlings and Direct Seed, Planting in the Gardens at Catawba, and much more.

Wednesday • July 30 • 6 – 9 p.m.

Midsummer weed and pest management, Planning for fall crops, and much more.

Saturday • October 4 • 2 – 5 p.m.

Caring for the fall/winter garden, preparing the soil for winter, and much more.

About the Instructor

Mark Schonbeck has done sustainable agriculture research, consulting, and technical writing for more than 25 years. His areas of experience include organic vegetable production, soil and nutrient management, soil test interpretation for organic systems, cover crops, mulches, sustainable weed management, and soil and resource conservation. He does one-on-one consulting with farmers and gardeners, including soil test interpretation and nutrient management from an organic viewpoint, as well as crop rotation, cover cropping, and weed management. Schonbeck edits The Virginia Biological Farmer, the quarterly 12-page newsletter of the Virginia Association for Biological Farming (VABF), and helps maintain a homestead garden for a small community of 15 people. He also does volunteer work in policy education and advocacy for family farms and sustainable agriculture, and serves as policy liaison between VABF and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
Registration Fee (includes materials and instruction): $100
For more information and to register, visit: www.cpe.edu/gardening
Please spread the word! For a program flyer, please respond to this email.

Events, Position Announcements, Farm Loans

Accessing Credit for New Farmers and Ranchers
Google+ Hangout hosted by Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden  - Tuesday April 1, 2014 – 4:00 pm EDT

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2014: On Tuesday, April 1, Agriculture Deputyy Secretary Krysta Harden will host a Google+ Hangout to discuss types of agricultural credit and ways to access them in support of new farmers and ranchers. Accessing credit is often cited as a top concern for beginning producers. The discussion will cover credit and financial options from USDA as well as outside partners including the Farm Credit Council. The Hangout will also feature farmers and ranchers who have successfully accessed credit from these sources as they describe their experiences and offer advice to others. USDA is soliciting discussion questions via social media using #NewFarmers.

Participants include:
        Gary Matteson, Farm Credit Council, Vice President for Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach
        Chris Beyerhelm, USDA’s Farm Service Agency Farm Loan Chief
        Shirley Malek, goat and sheep cheese producer in Gilmanton, N.H.
        Megan Kinsey, a squash, grape, and corn farmer in Sunnyside, Wash.
        Matt and Jolene Nierling, beginning farmers who operate a dairy operation in northeast Iowa

How to participate:  Live on the USDA Google+ page or on www.usda.gov/live . Add your questions in advance or share your story on social media by using the #NewFarmers on Twitter, Google+, YouTube or Facebook.

Beginning Beekeepers Workshop
April 3, 2014, 6PM – 9PM at the Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center
April 5, 2014, 9AM – 2PM at the Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center

About the Workshop: This two-session class will prepare the beginning beekeeper for a successful season. The first class is a three-hour, classroom-based session that provides the student with a strong foundation of beekeeping knowledge. The second session includes instruction with both classroom and field-based modules. The fee for the 8-hour workshop is $99 and includes materials and lunch on Saturday.

Topics Include: History of the Hive and Honeybee; Honeybee Biology; Necessary Equipment; Honeybee Pests and Diseases; Laws and Regulations; African Honeybees; Pollen and Nectar Sources; and Harvesting Your Honey

About the Instructor: Known as the “Bee Whisperer” of the Roanoke valley, Mark Chorba has kept honeybees in the Roanoke Valley and surrounding areas for the past 20 years. As a certified Virginia Beekeeper, Chorba has taught beekeeping to hundreds of new beekeepers throughout Southwest Virginia. He is the 2013 president of the New River Valley Beekeepers Association, which is currently the largest beekeeper association in Virginia. His dedication to apiculture provides the community a reliable resource of information about honeybees through presentations, community events promoting the honeybee, and beekeeping in general. Chorba resides on his small farm in Copper Hill in Floyd County where he maintains more than 25 colonies of honeybees. He also tends to adjacent apiaries in Montgomery, Franklin and Roanoke counties.

Register Online by April 1 at

For More Information, visit: http://www.cpe.vt.edu/sustainable/index.html
Or contact Josh at 540-553-2311 or jnease@vt.edu



Soil Conditioning workshop
Shalom Farms, Goochland, VA – Saturday April 5, 2:00 – 4:30 pm

This year, why not commit to making your garden and its soil the ‘Best That It Can Be’?  The living, breathing soil ecosystem is a key factor in determining your garden’s production. Join us next Saturday for the Center for Rural Culture’s third workshop in the 2014 Homestead Series – “Soil Conditioning”. 

The workshop takes place at Shalom Farm, 1033 Rock Castle Road, Goochland, VA 23063. Steve Miles (farm manager) will lead the program. He’ll discuss composting rules and techniques as well as green manures and cover crops. Next, Becky Lillywhite will lead a discussion on Vermiculture and how to use this process to add fertility and structure to your garden soil.

Finish up your day as our instructors help you make your own worm composter (all materials supplied) to take home and start producing worm castings to add to your soil.

The program fee is $ 25.00 per person.  Make plans today for this wonderful day of hands on learning and discussions.  At the end of the program, you can tour Shalom Farms and see why they are considered one of Virginia’s best organic farms.

Click on the link below to get more information about this program or go directly to “Register Now”.  Questions? Contact the CRC Program Chairman atstu5012@yahoo.com

Get more information
Register Now!

Raising Chick for Eggs &/or Meat Production Workshop 
Blacksburg, VA - Saturday April 12, 10 am – 3 pm

This workshop, presented by Local Concepts LLC with Glade Road Growing, offers everything you ever wanted to know about raising chicks for egg and/or meat production.  We will tour Glade Road Growing’s chicken production and view a variety of equipment used both for homesteading and small-scale business production.  Topics covered include everything from buying birds, brooding, housing, fencing, nutrition, lighting, diseases, eggs, and more.  Also enjoy a farm-fresh style lunch of local foods prepared by Fare Palate. 

The workshop will take place at Glade Road Growing FArm, 2351 Glade Road, Blacksburg, VA.

Registration for the workshop costs $65. Click here for online registration.

For more Information contact Christy Gabbard at Christine.gabbard@gmail.com or 540-558-8010
Visit the workshop facebook event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/763575343653179/

Position Open:  Policy Specialist
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in Washington, DC

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has opened a search for a new Policy Specialist in Farming Opportunities and Fair Competition.  This  Policy Specialist will work with a dynamic and inspiring team at NSAC’s headquarters on Capitol Hill, developing policy strategies related to family farm and sustainability issues, with specific reference to farm programs, crop insurance, livestock market competition issues, and federal agricultural research and extension policy.  See attached position announcement for details, including resposnbilities, qualifications, and how to apply. 

Farm Loan Program Modifications Create Flexibility for New and Existing Farmers and Ranchers Alike
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Announces Increased Opportunity for Producers as part of the New Farm Bill

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2014 ? Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today annouunced increased opportunity for producers as a result of the 2014 Farm Bill. A fact sheet outlining modifications to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Farm Loan Programs is available here.

“Our nation’s farmers and ranchers are the engine of the rural economy. These improvements to our Farm Loan Programs will help a new generation begin farming and grow existing farm operations,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Today’s announcement represents just one part of a series of investments the new Farm Bill makes in the next generation of agriculture, which is critical to economic growth in communities across the country.”

The Farm Bill expands lending opportunities for thousands of farmers and ranchers to begin and continue operations, including greater flexibility in determining eligibility, raising loan limits, and emphasizing beginning and socially disadvantaged producers.

Changes that will take effect immediately include:
         Elimination of loan term limits for guaranteed operating loans.
         Modification of the definition of beginning farmer, using the average farm size for the county as a qualifier instead of the median farm size. 
         Modification of the Joint Financing Direct Farm Ownership Interest Rate to 2 percent less than regular Direct Farm Ownership rate, with a floor of 2.5 percent. Previously, the rate was established at 5 percent. 
        Increase of the maximum loan amount for Direct Farm Ownership down payments from $225,000 to $300,000.
         Elimination of rural residency requirement for Youth Loans, allowing urban youth to benefit. 
        Debt forgiveness on Youth Loans, which will not prevent borrowers from obtaining additional loans from the federal government.
        Increase of the guarantee amount on Conservation Loans from 75 to 80 percent and 90 percent for socially disadvantaged borrowers and beginning farmers.
        Microloans will not count toward loan term limits for veterans and beginning farmers.

Additional modifications must be implemented through the rulemaking processes. 

Visit the FSA Farm Bill website for detailed information and updates to farm loan programs.


National Organic Standards Board Call for Nominations
Nominations Deadline April 15, 2014

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is pleased to invite nominations from qualified individuals to serve on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) from January 2015 to January 2020. Applications are due by May 15, 2014.

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is a Federal Advisory Committee that provides advice and recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture on the implementation of the Organic Foods Production Act. NOSB members are volunteers and come from across the organic community. Each member is appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to a five-year term. 

In the Federal Register Notice for this announcement, USDA announces its intent to renew the NOSB’s charter, and seeks nominations for the following seats on the NOSB:

  • Individual with expertise in areas of environmental protection and resource conservation
  • Organic Producer who owns or operates an organic operation
  • Organic Handler who owns or operates an organic handling operation
  • Retailer with significant trade in organic products

Committee member duties include:

  • Attending committee meetings (travel paid by USDA)
  • Participating in bi-monthly subcommittee conference calls
  • Reviewing materials and/or recommend changes to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances
  • Advising the Secretary on other aspects of the USDA organic regulations 

Written nominations must include a cover letter, resume, and an AD-755 Application Form and must be postmarked on or before May 15, 2014

More Information:

For more information: Visit NOSB Nominations Webpage

E-News Upcoming Events

Farm Incubator Demonstration Program 

Seeking Local, Pesticide Free, Organic, or Certified Natural Produce Growers within 100 miles of Richmond, VA location by March 31

Find more information in the attached flyer and feel free to share with anyone who may be a good fit.  This is a tight application window, as the market opportunity developed quickly.  Applications are due by March 31 to me at tnartea@vsu.edu   If farmers are just starting and do not have some of the items requested in the application, please have them contact me directly for guidance.

Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit: Nourishing Our Cities’ Future

April 15 & 16, Lynchburg, Virginia

Summit will include an opening luncheon keynote from First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, a guided tour and reception for all at Lynchburg Grows and a screening of Dan Susman’s documentary film: Growing Cities-A Film About Urban Farming in America
The conference hotel special room rate will be available until April 1.
For more information including agenda, registration and lodging please go to
For questions or further assistance, including sponsorship opportunities, contact Christie Young – Christie.young@vafb.com .or Spencer Neale – spencer.neale@vafb.com

Last call for farms to join VABF’s RVA Farm Tour Weekend

Richmond area farmers:

If you would like your farm to be included in VABF’s Richmond Farm Tours Weekend September 20 & 21, 2014, please raise your hand!

We are now accepting applications from farms in Richmond*. Our deadline is this Monday, March 31st.

Let us know that you’re ready to open your farm up to the public. Please contact Mary Delicate with any questions.

* Due to grant requirements, only farms growing specialty crops may be considered. Specialty Crops are “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).”

VABF Richmond Farm Tours 2014

Upcoming Workshops: Organic Seeds, Value Added, Farmer’s Market, Aquaculture


Organic Seed Workshop
On-Farm Variety Trials, Seed Production and Plant Breeding

At three different sites across NC

9 AM – 1 PM (Sign in at 8:30 AM)  Mar 17, Mar 18, Mar 20

Dr. John Navazio, Organic Seed Alliance Senior Scientist and Washington SU Extension Organic Seed Specialist is offering a workshop covering the following:

  • Principles of designing, conducting and evaluating on-farm variety trials using basic scientific methods
  • Choosing appropriate varieties, integrating trials into your current production, and crop traits to consider for trial assessment
  • The basics of reproductive biology, harvest timing and seed cleaning using vegetable crop examples that are best suited for seed production in the varied climates of NC
  • Classical breeding methods that can be used to enhance varietal adaptation to your cultural practices and environmental/market challenges

$10 includes all workshop materials, snacks and beverages throughout the morning.  While open to anyone, content will be aimed at growers who have strong baseline knowledge in sustainable vegetable production. We also welcome extension personnel and those providing technical assistance in the agricultural field.
***The WNC Organic Broccoli stakeholders meeting and presentation of 2012-2013 Participatory Broccoli Variety Trial results will follow the March 20th workshop from 1:30pm-3:00pm.
Register online at CFSA’s online store:

For more informations, visit the event’s webpage.

Contact the following people with questions:
Registration: Anna MacDonald Dobbs, anna@carolinafarmstewards.org, 919-542-2402
Workshop content & day-of support: Eric Soderholm, eric@carolinafarmstewards.org, 252-482-0696 (o), 301-221-7119 (m)

Value Added Processing Workshop

March 27, 2014  4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Learn how you can preserve your harvest for year-round availability with the Prince Edward County Cannery and Commercial KitchenVirginia Food Works, and Homegrown Virginia.  Now inspected as a commercial kitchen and registered as a food canning establishment, the certified food entrepreneur can process foods in glass jars to sell to restaurants, grocers, and distributors. Also available is a contract packing service to process your value-added foods for you.

This workshop will be taught by Allie Hill, Director of Homegrown Virginia, and will include:

  • Details on the services provided by Virginia Food Works / Homegrown Virginia
  • How to package foods for production (including washing, prepping, storing)
  • Minimum volume of raw produce items and their expected yield
  • Logistics for delivery and pickup
  • Product examples and tasting

Ian Pasquerelli, from Virginia Cooperative Extension, will also be on hand to discuss state and federal regulations that govern the production and marketing of value-added products.

Cost is $15 and free for Local Food Hub partner producers.  Register online:
Contact Adrianna Vargo with questions: adrianna@localfoodhub.org or 434-244-3276

2014 Aquaculture Forum, Growing Fish in Cages: The Next Level

April 16 at Tide Right, Saluda, VA

Registration is online at this link:
Register by April 9
Program cost is $10 and is limited to 40 Attendees
Please see attached flyer for more information and directions.

Send questions to David Crosby: Tel –  804-524-5620 Email- dcrosby@vsu.edu
Contact Mark Klingman with problems with registration: Tel- 804-524-5493 Email- mklingman@vsu.edu

Independence Farmers Market Workshop

 April 12th 9am – 4pm at the Grayson National Bank Conference Center, Independence, VA

This is the third in a series of four free workshops sponsored by the Independence Farmers Market. The workshops are targeted to backyard gardeners, commercial growers, ranchers or new farmers who wish to grow food for retail, direct sales, and wholesale markets. Speakers will introduce attendees to the techniques and practices that have been successful across the Appalachian Region. Attendees will also be connected to a larger network of growers, buyers and resources to help them with their farming needs.  A free local lunch will be provided.  For more information, see flyer.

How Much To Grow


For gardeners looking for helpful information about how much to grow, read on.

Originally posted on Homeplace Earth:

4.1 How Much To Grow - BLOG How Much to Grow is the title of Chapter 4 in Grow a Sustainable Diet . If your garden is small and whatever you get from it is a welcome addition to your table, you might not be concerned with exactly how many pounds are produced of anything. You are just happy to have homegrown food in your meals. If you want to be able to predict how much your harvest will be so you can plan to have a certain amount for your family to eat, you can put pencil to paper now and do some calculating.
butternut squash

butternut squash

Chapter 4 contains a worksheet (you see part of it here) to help with those calculations. (There is a link in the book that will take you to PDFs of all the worksheets so you can print them out.) Whether you are trying to decide how much to grow for…

View original 818 more words

Help VABF and Answer Two Questions: Summer Squash Research Project

In 2011 VABF received a grant from the Virginia Department of Agriculture to conduct on-farm research on growing summer squash organically. Six farmers from across the state conducted two-year trials on their farms and hosted field events for VABF members and other growers. At the 2013 Conference the farmers presented their work to attendees at a session. If you attended any of the field events or the conference session on growing summer squash, we would like you to  answer two simple questions to help us evaluate the outcome of the grant work.
Please follow this link to our online survey to answer these two questions: 
- Did you start or increase your summer squash production in any of the years from 2011 through 2013 as a result of your attendance at the programs?
- If your answer is yes, was the value of your summer squash production at least $1000?
Again, the online survey is found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Y9PF9JK and will only take one minute to answer.
Thank you for helping to evaluate the impact of this research! 

E-news: Grazing, Pruning and Marketing Workshops, GMO Contamination, Cover Crop Research, and more!


Floyd EcoVillage Tree Pruning and Mushroom Workshop 

Sat March 8, 2014


This full day workshop is a Bob Grubel double header: tree pruning and shitake mushroom logs!  We will also have a scrumptious lunch prepared by Floyd EcoVillage’s Chef Jason Loftus.
See the website for complete details.
For those of you who might have attended the tree pruning workshop earlier this year, Bob says:  “Folks can take home a little of the pruned wood in the form of scions to graft onto their apple or pear trees.  If they wish to do that they need to bring gallon size plastic bags.”


USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Webinar on Soil Health and Production Benefits of Mob Grazing

March 11, 2014, 2:00 pm

This webinar focuses on how both soil health and productivity can be improved by managing grazing to mimic the impact bison had on prairies, a system characterized by high plant diversity, intensive grazing, trampling of vegetation, and long rest periods. Because of their vegetative cover, pastures and rangeland are often overlooked as having degraded soils. In fact, grazing lands suffer from soil disturbing activities caused by overgrazing that results in reduced root mass, increased weed pressure, compacted soils, greater surface runoff, and diminished soil habitat. Our presenter will explain how managing stock density can be the most powerful tool available to manage grassland resources. He will cover how stock density affects utilization, reduces spot grazing, controls weed competition, improves manure distribution, and provides seed to soil contact. Simply put, managing stock density has the potential to improve and build more soil than we ever thought possible.
Follow this link to register and join the webinar.


Appalachian Farmer’s Market Association (AFMA) Winter Conference

March 22nd
Bristol, Tn

This year’s theme is “The Safety of Local Food and Agriculture”  Cost is $20/person – Register by March 7th to receive lunch and conference materials.  Registration is also $20 at the door, but you may not receive lunch or conference materials.  Children 12 and under are free, but please register them so they will receive lunch.
Add on workshops include:
Apple Tree Grafting (see attached) – $25
Farming for Profit – Turning Budgets into Profitability – $25
To register, or for more information, please contact Tamara at
(276) 623-1121 or tmcnaughton@asdevelop.org


Get Ready for Market workshop in Fauquier County

March 27th  6pm to 8pm
Warrenton, VA 

This FREE workshop will be held at 24 Pelham St. 
Warrenton, VA and offers new ideas for going to the Farmers Market.  Speakers include:

  • Selling Raw, Processed and Prepared Food Products, what is required?  Cathy Kloetzli — VCE Albemarle
  • Accepting SNAP EBT benefits, is this for you?  Elizabeth Borst — The Farmers Markeet Co. 
  • Using applications to manage your market booth and your farm. Jeff Adams — Walnut Hill Farm, att Elm Springs LLC 

More information can be found on this flyer.  If you are interested, please RSVP to: 
tohlwile@vt.edu or Master Gardener help desk at 540.341.7950 ext 2
Questions? contact Tim Ohlwiler at tohlwile@vt.edu or 540.341.7950 ext 3


Shiitake Mushrooms at Home 

Saturday March 29, 2014 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM EDT

Goochland, VA

This workshop will discuss the techniques for growing shiitake mushrooms on logs in Virginia. Some of the topics include: selection of logs, inoculation process, harvest, mushroom storage and use. Tour Rockcastle’s shiitake mushroom production area and see how the process works. 

Producing shiitake mushrooms at home is no mystery. To get everyone off to a good start all participants will be given a log to inoculate and take home.
This is a very popular program. Space and materials are limited, so it is important to register early to assure yourself of a space in this program. Registration is $25.00 due at the time of registration.
Get more information
Register Now!
If you need more information or would like to attend bur don’t use PayPal, contact the Program Manager at stu5012@yahoo.com  or  804-878-2166


Northern Piedmont Beginning Farmer

First class April 3 at 7-9 pm
Middleburg, VA.

Are you thinking of starting a production farm or of diversifying an existing farm? Join us this spring to work with local educators, producers, and industry leaders to explore those questions and evaluate your farming future.

The Northern Piedmont Beginning Farmer Program (NPBFP) is  a multi-class initiative  to help aspiring and diversifying farmers make informed decisions about a new operation. NPBFR is a partner in the Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Program,  and will utilize the Coalition’s curriculum, particularly  on Introduction to Whole Farm Planning, Marketing, and Introduction to Farm Business Management.  

Class dates are:  April 3, 17; May 1, 15, 22, 29; and June 5, 19.  Class time is 7-9 pm.  All classes will be held at the Middleburg Agriculture Research and Extension Center, 5527 Sullivans Mill road, Middleburg, VA 22117. The cost of the series is $150.

For more information, see this flyer.  To register, send check payable to Fauquier Education Farm, and mail to Fauquier Education FArm, c/o VCE Fauquier, 24 Pelham Street, Warrenton, VA 20186.  For more information, contact sbroyles@vt.edu, or call 540-34107950

This is a joint effort of Cooperative Extension in Culpeper, Fauquier, Loudoun, and Rappahannock Counties, and the Fauquier Education Farm.


Fruit Grafting & Propagation All Day Intensive

Saturday, April 5th OR Sunday, April 6th 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Charlottesville, VA

Join Alexis Zeigler for his popular intensive grafting & propogation workshop. This year the workshop is being offered twice in Charlottesville VA.   For more information, visit this website or see this flyer.


Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit “Nourishing Our Cities’ Future”

Tuesday April 15 & Wednesday April 16, 2014
Holiday Inn Lynchburg, Va

This year includes a tour of Lynchburg Grows on April 14 and a screening of Dan Susman’s documentary film: Growing Cities-A Film About Urban Farming in America on the evening of Monday April 14.  See attached packet for details and registration.
For more information go to — http://events.SignUp4.com/UrbanAgSummit2014
For questions or further assistance, including sponsorship opportunities, contact:
Christie Young – Christie.young@vafb.com or Spencer Neale – spencer.neale@vafb.com

Continue reading

Market Workshop, New Farm Bill, GMO Comment Period, Conferences


Independence Farmers Market Winter Workshop 

March 1st 2014


The workshop will be held upstairs in the Historic 1908 Courthouse located at the intersection of Highways 21 and 58 in downtown Independence, Virginia.
We are pleased to have local experts teaching these classes and sharing their knowledge.
This is the second in a series of four free workshops sponsored by the Independence Farmers Market and Virginia Cooperative Extension. The workshops are targeted to backyard gardeners, commercial growers, ranchers or new farmers that wish to grow food for retail, direct sales, and wholesale markets. Speakers will introduce attendees to the techniques and practices that have been successful across the Appalachian Region. Attendees will also be connected to a larger network of growers, buyers and resources to help them with their farming needs.
We hope you will plan to join us for all of them and enjoy a day full of information and tasty local food.  Seeflyer for more details.

VSU Small Farm Outreach
VA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Program

Developing A One Page Farm Business Plan

March 5th 2014
10 AM to 1:30 PM
Boxed lunch generously provided by Farm Credit

Charles City County Recreation Center
8320 Ruthville Rd. Providence Forge, Va.
It’s time to get professional about your growing agricultural business and join us for this work-shop on writing your own One Page Business Plan. Farm Credit of the Virginias will guide you through this important step as you turn your small farm dream into a healthy sustainable business.  More info found here.  
Please RSVP by
Feb. 28th
Mark Klingman
804 524 5493

7th Annual Virginia Berry Conference

March 13, 2014  8am -4:30 pm

VSU, Gateway Dining Hall 
Petersburg VA
See attached for details. (1) (2)

Berry and Vegetable Programs

A couple of day events at Virginia Tech that may be of interest.  See attached.




2014 Farm Bill Passed and Signed into Law

Yes, folks, after well over two years,  we at last have a Farm Bill Reauthorization for the next five years.  Key programs that have been stranded without funding since September of 2012 – including Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP – original funder of Virginia Beginning Farmer Coalition Program), Organic Research and Extension Initiative (which has funded a 5-year multistate project to develop organic controls for the brown marmorated stink bug), the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, and the Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program (which supports SNAP benefit access to farmers markets, among other local food initiaties).  These have all received robust funding.

The downside is that the 2014 Farm Bill missed a huge opportunity to adopt substantive reforms to commodity subsidy programs – reforms that had received strong bipartisan support in both houses of Congress.

Thank you for all you have done over the past couple years during the long and often intense grassroots campaign around Farm Bill issues.  

Following and attached are additional information, analysis, and reflections from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) regarding this new Farm Bill, and our next steps toward a more sustainable federal ag policy.


Dear All,
The President has signed the 2014 Farm Bill into law.  Yes, that’s right, we have a new, five-year farm bill.  It took us a long time to get to this point (remember when this bill was called the 2012 Farm Bill?!), and the final bill is a mixed bag, but because of your tireless advocacy efforts there are bright spots to build on in our shared effort to build a better food and farm future.

We made an infographic (attached jpg file) to help illustrate some of the big wins and losses in the final bill.  But what’s most important to know is this:  these wins are thanks to you.  

As just one example, you stood up for the “stranded programs” in the farm bill – a set of innovative, job-creating programs that were stripped of all funding in 2013.   Thanks to your thousands upon thousands of persistent calls, emails, and letters, Congress listened.  The new Farm Bill invests over $1.2 billion over the next five years into once-stranded programs like the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, National Organic Certification Cost Share, the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, and many others.  These programs will create jobs through food and farming, invest in the next generation of growers and in sustainable growing methods, rebuild rural communities, and increase healthy food access.  

You’ll see some losses on the list, too – and, frankly, they’re big ones.  You joined us in calling for critical reforms, including common-sense, bipartisan subsidy payment limits, but unfortunately Congress caved completely, despite intense grassroots pressure.  But we won’t give up – and nor should you!  We’ll double down this year – and the next, and the next – to keep fighting for better food and farm policy, including meaningful reform.

We will need advocates like you to help make sure the roll-out of this farm bill really works on the ground, and that its investments reach the hard-working farmers and families across our nation who need it most.  Plus, there’s more on the horizon this year that matters for farmers and eaters, including annual funding negotiations in Congress for critical food and farm programs and the FDA’s in-progress Food Safety Modernization Act rules.

Are you ready to help us keep up the fight?  Take a look at the infographic here, learn more about the sustainable agriculture community’s wins and losses in the bill [link to take action page, which will direct folks to blog posts, etc], and share this image with your friends and family [share tool].  

We couldn’t have achieved any of this without you – and our work together is not yet done.  Thank you for everything – we can’t wait to keep working with you in 2014 and beyond! 

Thanks for all you do,

Sarah and Shavaun, The NSAC Grassroots Team

Tell USDA: 

“Agricultural Co-existence” Must Include Protecting Organic and Non-GMO Farmers Against GMO Contamination!

In November, USDA posted a notice  in the Federal Register, asking for  public comment on “Enhancing Agricultural Coexistence” among organic, non-GMO conventional,and GMO crop farmers.  The FR notice includes four  questions about education, communication, and outreach aimed at improving mutual understanding – but the questions evade the most important issues: 

  1. How to prevent contamination of organic and non-GMO crops by GMO pollen or seed
  2. How to protect organic and non-GMO farmers from market and financial losses resulting from GMO contamination beyond their control
  3. How to fairly compensate organic and non-GMO farmers in the event that they suffer losses from GMO contamination

Have  you experienced GMO contamination of your organic or non-GMO crops by GMO pollen from a neighboring farm, resulting in financial losses?
Have you incurred additional expense in order to protect your crops from GMO contamination?
Have you been forced to change your cropping plan, or otherwise restrict your production options because of GMO crop production on nearby farms?

If any of these is true for you, your stories are vital to our efforts to inform the USDA about the actual extent and seriousness of GMO contamination in organic and non-GMO crops.  In addition to submitting your story and comments to USDA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) would like to hear your story.  Contact Mark by e-mail (mark@abundantdawn.org), or call NSAC at 202-547-5754, and ask to speak with Ariane or Sarah.

Even if you did not answer “yes” to the above questions, but are concerned about this issue, send your comments to USDA by March 4!   Urge USDA to address GMO contamination directly and frankly, and to compensate affected farmers fairly.

For more information, and to submit comments, visit http://www.nationalorganiccoalition.org/usda-requests-public-input-on-agricultural-coexistence , or see How to Comment section below.  If you would like to submit anonymous comments, NOC includes a link to do so.

Background and More on the Issues

 In 2011, USDA re-convened the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21), which made recommendations in five major areas regarding agricultural “coexistence” – compensation, stewardship, education and outreach, research, and seed quality.  

Some of these recommendations included investigating an appropriate compensation mechanism for dealing with economic harm caused by GE contamination such as the possibility of offering crop insurance to organic and non-GMO farmers.  Other recommendations focused on identifying ways to foster communication and collaboration among those involved in all sectors of agriculture production, including conversations among neighboring farmers regarding planting dates to prevent cross-pollination. To access all AC21 documents go to: http://tinyurl.com/AC21DOCS

USDA is asking for input on more than a dozen questions about education, collaboration, and outreach. The department seeks input on coexistence practices, and, specifically, how the department can support communication between farmers. 

As discussed above, USDA’s questions are missing the point – we need to guide them back to the heart of the matter!

And, asking organic and non-GMO farmers to purchase crop insurance to  protect themselves from GMO-related losses is like asking pedestrians to carry additional insurance in case they are injured by a motor vehicle!  Those who own, use, and beneft from GMO crop technology should shoulder the burden of compensating non-GMO farmers for such losses.

GMO contamination is posing an especially severe and growing burden on the organic and non-GMO crop seed sector.  Crops most likely to be affected are corn (including sweet corn, popcorn, and heirloom flour and ornamental corn, as well as grain and silage corn); soybean (including edamame as well as grain and forage soybean), canola (which may cross with closely related brassica vegetables), and cotton.  In addition, USDA has recently approved commercial production of GMO sugar beet (which will cross with table beet, leaf beet, and chard), and alfalfa.  

Organic and non-GE farmers and handlers have shouldered the burden of contamination for too long. USDA must use its authority to:

  • Prevent GMO contamination 
  • Fully investigate the state of contamination in our seed and food supply
  • Reform the current regulatory framework overseeing GMOs 
  • Reject the proposal to force organic and other non-GMO producers to purchase more crop insurance to protect themselves from contamination
  • Address the broader economic and environmental issues related to “coexistence” and contamination 

How to Comment

Comment ONLINE at: Regulations.gov and search for: APHIS-2013-0047-0061

Submit SNAIL MAIL comments to: Docket No. APHIS–2013–0047, Regulatory Analysis, and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station, 3A–03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737–1238. 

Farmers & Handlers: If you would like to send an ANONYMOUS COMMENT outlining your experiences and costs, please go to: http://tinyurl.com/AC21Story 

Questions?  Call Liana Hoodes, NOC ED at (914) 443-5759 or email Liana@NationalOrganicCoalition.org

Group Organic Certification, Conferences, Manager Position and Farm for Sale


Appalachian Harvest Seeks Growers for Group Organic Certification Through QCS

Interested Growers will operate under the following parameters:

  1. Growers must be located no more than 2.5 hours drive time from the Appalachian Harvest packinghouse facility in Duffield, Virginia and/or no more than 2 hours from the ASD main office in Abingdon, Virginia. 
  2. Production is limited to certified organic winter squash, organic red & green cabbage (fall only) and organic pie pumpkins. These products will be certified for sale through Appalachian Harvest.
  3. A maximum of 20 growers will be permitted to participate in the Group Certification Program. This will be accomplished on a first come, first served basis.
  4. Appalachian Harvest will source the seeds for the growers, and growers will purchase these seeds from Appalachian Harvest. Appalachian Harvest will seek approval from QCS prior to purchasing seeds under the Group Certification effort.
  5. Appalachian Harvest will visit each farmer 2 times during this production season: (1) pre-planting and/or planting phase, (2) during harvest and/or upon completion of harvest.
  6. Appalachian Harvest will hold monthly training sessions and a variety of 1:1 training sessions to complete required QCS Organic Certification documentation with each farmer to be submitted no later than May 15, 2014 to QCS.
  7. Only utilizing inputs approved for this group certification effort. List available on request and by participation in group effort.
  8. Each producer utilizing the Grower Group Certification will maintain a 3 ring binder noting the following: organic certification application, MSDS for applicable inputs, and a calendar of farming events (planting dates, pest management, harvest, etc). These binders will be provided by Appalachian Harvest.

Growers participating in this Group Organic Certification effort will receive the benefits of:

  1. Selling the winter squash, cabbage, and pie pumpkins at a premium organic price.
  2. Paying a reduced rate for organic certification of these products.
  3. Being GAP mock audited without the cost of USDA GAP certification.
  4. Guidance and support from Appalachian Harvest staff.


Farm For Sale

136 acres. Rapidan area Madison VA. Woodlands and fields no herbicide/pesticide used, pond, river access, 4 bedroom brick house excellent condition. $798,000. Call Jefferson L&R 540-948-5050


General Manager Position Opening

Future Harvest – Chesepeake Allainace for Sustainable Agriculture – January 2014

The General Manager is the steward of Future Harvest CASA’s assets and mission in a time of transition.  The General Manager is responsible for all aspects of the organization’s performance; job responsibilities include overseeing/performing all day-to-day operations of Future Harvest CASA.
This role reports to the Board of Directors, and directs the organization’s resources in the accomplishment of goals defined by the Board.  S/he also represents FHCASA to funders, partner organizations, members, and other external constituents.  Tasks included in the successful direction of the organization will include, but not be limited to:

Administration and Management Tasks

  • Oversee and coordinate human resources, including Future Harvest CASA’s staff and contractors
  • Successfully manage the organization’s financial resources to the annual budget
  • Create and interpret financial statements and budget projections for quarterly board meetings, working with contract bookkeeper and Board Secretary
  • Work with staff to develop and track program budgets, including several grant-funded programs
  • Ensure accuracy, timeliness and completeness of all necessary filings (with the assistance of Board Treasurer and Secretary)
  • Identify funding needs and sources, draft funding requests, and report to funders as required
  • Serve as point of contact for Board of Directors and Board committees, including the committee overseeing the plan of merger with the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA)
  • Work with Board to conduct merger activities
  • Serve as manager of FHCASA’s annual Conference, with the support of the Conference Committee and Chair

External Relations Tasks

  • Maintain relations with current funders and partner organizations
  • Actively work with board on grant writing and fundraising efforts
  • Attend meetings within the sustainable agriculture community on behalf of FHCASA
  • Staff occasional FHCASA programmatic events (e.g. Field Days, trainings, panels)
  • Oversee visual identity and messaging of FHCASA
  • Review and approve all external communications (e.g. newsletters, brochures, press releases)

Part-Time salaried position. Will require 20-30 hours/week. $30,000 salary with holidays, sick and vacation days. Submit cover letter and resume tofutureharvestcasa@gmail.org


Northern Piedmont Specialty Crops School, 2014

Person County Cooperative Extension Center, 304 S. Morgan Street, Roxboro, NC 27573
Friday, March 7, 2014 – 8:00 am – 4:00 pm


The program emphasizes high tunnel production and economics. Topics include: getting started in high tunnel production, maintaining high productivity under cover, high tunnel temperature and irrigation management, cropping systems and crop economics in the high tunnel, and innovative production and marketing of asparagus.

Pre-registration by February 28 is required. Registration is $25 for the first person in famil / business, and $15 for each additional person. For more information, call Carl Cantaluppi, Granville County Extension, 919-603-1350, e-mail <carl_cantaluppi@ncsu.edu>

7th Annual Virginia Berry Conference

Save the date: March 13, 2014  8am -4:30 pm
Virginia State University, Gateway Dining Hall 
Petersburg VA
More details coming soon

CSA Farms Face Increasing Pressure From New Food Distribution Models

CSA Online Conference Aims to Give 
Small Farmers the Tools to Keep Pace

The number of farms providing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs exploded during the 2000s as the demand for fresh, local food surged. As this trend became impossible to ignore, many other companies stepped up to the plate to market local food. In 2014 and going forward these small-scale family farms face pressure from huge companies like Wal-Mart that have embraced local food, venture capital backed technology companies, and a multitude of smaller local food hubs.  

To survive this onslaught of competition, CSA farmers need to work together to share best practices and promote true, small-scale localized farm options.  CSA farmers also need to work together to chart the future course of CSA in order to keep the concept fresh and relevant in the years that come.  The 2014 CSA Expert Exchange (www.csafarmconference.com ) is an online conference co-presented by Small Farm Central and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) that brings CSA farmers from across the United States and Canada together to discuss topics important to the success of CSA now and into the future.  

“Joining a CSA farm is still the most direct way to support a small-scale, family farm growing high-quality produce, but there are now many options vying for the local food dollar. CSA farmers must be at the top of their game to produce the highest quality food and continue to articulate why CSA is so important for both the farmer and the eater. This is why we organize the CSA Expert Exchange: to learn from the best and brightest.” – Simon Huntley, Founder of Small Farm Central and former CSA farmer.

“The ‘Know your farmer. Know your food’ mantra is not one that will soon be pushed to the wayside. As consumers continue to push for that greater connection and understanding of their food and the environment in which it is produced, the demand for local food rises. CSA programs, by their traditional roots, provide just that – a genuine opportunity to know one’s food and the hands that produced it. The CSA Expert Exchange offers a platform – a network – for like-minded farmers and supporters to gather, to learn, and to be inspired to keep fighting the good fight.”  – Karla Pankow, Bossy Acres

This year’s CSA Expert Exchange will occur live on March 6th and 7th, 2014.  The first day will be an evening session focusing on beginning CSA farmers running from7pm until 9:30pm EST.  The second day will cover a variety of topics relevant to CSA farmers of all levels of experience beginning at 11:00am EST and running until3:30pm EST. Nationwide, the conference is expected to engage between 250-300 CSA farmers. The conference will be accessible via any web browser; attendees will be available to watch video of presenters, view powerpoint slides, and interact via chat to ask questions. The fee is $70 for both days and registration is open at csafarmconference.com

Presenters include:
- David Liker of Gorman Farm, Columbia, MD 
- Chloe Diegel and Alex McKiernen from Robinette Farms, Martell, NE
- Karla Pankow of Bossy Acres, Northfield, MN
- Rachel Armstrong of Farm Commons
- Chris Brockel of FairShare CSA Coalition
- Pam Dawling of Growing For Market and Twin Oaks Community, Louisa, VA
- Michael Kilpatrick of Kilpatrick Family Farm, Middle Granville, NY

About PASA

With over 6,000 members, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) is one of the largest and most active sustainable agriculture organizations in the U.S. Through educational programs and regional marketing assistance for farmers, advocacy, and public outreach, PASA seeks to promote profitable farms that produce healthy food for all people while respecting the natural environment. PASA’s hallmark event, the Farming for the Future Conference, draws thousands of participants from more than 30 states and six countries each February. For more information, visit pasafarming.org.

About Small Farm Central

Small Farm Central is a leading technology provider to small-scale farms across the U.S. and Canada. Started by an former CSA farmer, Small Farm Central provides farm websites, CSA member management services, and more to help increase the economic sustainability of small-scale farmers by creating professional and engaging experiences for the farm’s customers. Small Farm Central’s Member Assembler technology is built to manage the office side of the CSA from online member signup and payment processing to box packing and delivery logistics.  For more information, visit smallfarmcentral.com.


Biology of Soil Compaction Webinar

Jim Hoorman - Extension Educator, Cover Crops and Water Quality, Ohio State University 
February 11, 2014 2PM Eastern / 11AM Pacific
60 Minutes

Join the Webinar
Save to Calendar

Lean about the root cause of soil compaction – lack of soil organic matter and biological activity caused by heavy tillage – and mitigation techniques to improve soil function for agricultural production. Mitigating negative impacts of compaction can only be solved by improving habitat for microbes, allowing them to build soil aggregates. Most producers view soil compaction as a consequence of heavy equipment compressing the soil, resulting in restricted root growth, poor soil aeration, and poor drainage. Often overlooked is the loss of soil organic matter caused by tillage and the destruction of habitat favorable for soil microbes necessary to build soil aggregates and increase soil organic matter. Key to building soil micro and macro-aggregates are mycorrhizal fungi with their hyphae and organic glues that serve as the foundation for soil aggregates. Overcoming soil compaction can only be achieved by applying soil health management principles that minimize soil disturbance, increase soil microbe diversity, keep a living root growing, and maintain residue cover. 

Gaining Access to Farmland:  Economic Considerations of Farm Leasing

Dr. Gordon Groover, Extension Economist Farm Management
Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics, Virginia Tech

Summary:    When someone thinks of a farm lease, the first thought usually is, “how much will I pay or get paid?” This often occurs before the tenant or landlord have even meet or discussed any terms. However, the main thought process should quickly shift to, “how can we reach a fair and beneficial arrangement for farmland and improvements?” Focusing on price does ground the process on financial terms yet it “short-circuits” the process of systematically discussing the contributions each is providing to ensure a viable arrangement. For example, what kind of land and improvements can be offered by the land owner?  What kind of experience, skills, management, machinery, and/or livestock can be offered by the land seeker?  These types of questions are a sample of what needs to be analyzed to achieve a fair lease arrangement. This webinar will focus on basic economic considerations of leasing, establishing a negotiation range, and valuation of assets and other inputs supplied by the leaseholder and/or landlord— together designed to help farmers address those important farm leasing questions.  

To participate in this webinar, please go to: