This page is regularly updated with opportunities of interest to our members.

10/2/15:  2014 Virginia Organic Farm Data Available

In 2014, Virginia had 167 organic farms producing $41.3 million in organic products. This includes
both certified organic farms and farms exempt from certification. Of the organic farms identified in
the 2014 Organic Survey, 139 were certified organic farms and 28 were exempt. Certified and
exempt farms together accounted for 28,412 acres of organic production in 2014. Of the $41.3 million in organic sales, $33.4 million or 81 percent came from crop production. Livestock and poultry animals totaled $2.2 million or 5 percent, and $5.7 million, or 14 percent came from sales of livestock and poultry products such as milk and eggs. More info here.

10/2/15: Vacancy on USDA Advisory Panel

One of the newest members of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) has resigned from the 15-member advisory body to the USDA. In addition to needing a replacement, USDA is currently in the process of selecting five new board members to replace the individuals whose terms expire at the end of 2015. To fill the new vacancy on the NOSB, for an environmental/resource conservation representative, the USDA just published details on the appointment process in the Federal Register. Interested individuals can find the application information here.

9/15/15: Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
by Jonathan R. Latham, PhD

Synopsis in Jonathan Latham’s own words: I am a scientist who once made and
used GMO crops for research. Twenty years of experience has taught me
important lessons about them. One concerns the lack of scientific integrity of
GMO risk assessments. Careful study of the documents shows that applicants
(mostly companies) are gaming the system in numerous and interesting ways; at
the same time, government regulators are allowing them to do so. None of this
would matter if GMOs were inherently safe, but they are not. They even have
dangers that are rarely discussed, but which should be more widely known.
These two understandings have led me to conclude that no GMO currently on the
market would pass an honest risk assessment, even by the rather low standards
that most national regulations and laws require.

Read the entire article here.

9/15/15: The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left out)
by Jonathan Latham, PhD

Synopsis: Although hailed as great investigative reporting in many quarters, a new front page article (NY Times Sept 5th) by reporter Eric Lipton left out the most important elements of the story. Some were left out from the main article, others from the email trails linked to in the article. Some of these facts Lipton could not reasonably be expected to have known (though it seems he didnt investigate far). But others he should have, including that the “Nina Fedoroff”, who played a prominent role in the emails he examined, was the President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and that senior administrators at Cornell were in on the PR activities of their academics. Yet both these important facts were omitted entirely. Numerous others were buried as the article focussed instead on little academic fish. This article is the story Lipton should have written.

9/14/15: FSMA Webinars

FDA is conducting a number of webinars around the new rules that have been released: Preventive Controls for Human Food and Preventive Controls for Animal Food. The schedule and info for signing in is here.

8/26/15: Horticulture Instructor – #ED010 Greensville Correctional Ctr – Virginia
$49,788 – $69,824 a year

Position provides individual and group instruction to male offenders at Greensville Correctional Center. Provides effective Career and Technical Education instruction in the horticulture trade area; to assist assigned students to complete the required competencies for that trade area; demonstrate effective classroom or lab management; ensure that the lab is operated in compliance with all aspects of safety management; and to maintain accurate and current records for assigned students. Successful candidate will maintain classroom, equipment and inventories; ensure compliance with all DOC regulations; maintain accurate records and submit timely reports; and manage and supervise aides and students in classroom. Details.

8/21/15: Mushroom Farm Production Assistant wanted at Sharondale Farm in Keswick, VA

The Farm Production Assistant position at Sharondale Mushroom Farm is an entry-level position with opportunity for advancement. The production assistant will work with the farm team in all aspects of mushroom production from preparation of growing medium to sales. We seek an individual who knows how to work, and is interested in supporting, promoting, and developing local food and mushroom culture. This is a full-time, hourly wage position. More information here.

8/21/15: For Sale: Mechanical Weigh Sizing Machine

We have had a spare mechanical weigh sizing machine for many years. The machine sorts out ten different sizes by weight from 100 grams to 500 grams. Each Staten is individually adjustable and is suitable for soft or delicate fruit. There is an auto loader and has padded receiving tables. We have never had to use this machine since our computer controlled machine has been so reliable. Contact: PAUL ESTABROOK, Virginia Gold Orchard, 540 291 – 1481

8/21/15: Future Harvest CASA’s Beginner Farmer Training Program Accepting Applications

Future Harvest CASA’s Beginner Farmer Training Program (BFTP) provides a comprehensive, year-long training program for beginning farmers ready to start their own operations. The program combines classroom learning with in-the-field training, under the guidance of an experienced farmer trainer.

The BFTP is now accepting applications for the 2016 season. The deadline for applications is October 9, 2015. Our goal is to equip the brightest new farmers in the Chesapeake region with the knowledge and hands-on experience necessary to start a successful farm.

8/4/15: 2015 National Survey of Organic Farmers

Your comments and ideas on Organic Farming research need to be heard. VABF is part of a national effort focusing on research that helps develop better organic farming methods. Our own Mark Schonbeck has been closely involved in the initiative. Click on the link and please complete the survey today! And let us know what you think!

7/8/15: Call for Abstracts (Poster Presentations) at 2015 Urban Agriculture Summit

Please see the attached call for abstracts (poster presentations) for the upcoming Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit (VUAS) to be held on October 22-23, 2015, in Richmond, Virginia. The poster session is intended to highlight work related to urban agriculture, including but not limited to topics such as urban food systems, food deserts, food security, and urban economic development. Plan to participate and/or distribute the flyer.

Important Deadlines:

§  Title Submission: July 15, 2015.

§  Abstract Submission: July 30, 2015.

§  Notification of Decision on Poster Abstract: August 15, 2015.

§  Final Abstract Submission: October 1, 2015.

7/1/15: Tour Smith Meadows Farm with Forrest Pritchard in Berryville VA

Visit Smith Meadows — a diverse, grass-finished production operation that markets much of their livestock product through the leading farmers’ markets in Washington DC. Come hear the story of how this farm was transformed over the last 20 years by Forrest Pritchard, the well-known farmer and author of “Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers’ Markets Local Food” and “Saving the Family Farm.” More details.

5/21/15: Organic Certification Cost Share Program Now Fully Funded!

Certified farmers, handlers and processors in all 50 United States (and some territories) are eligible for 75% of certification fees (up to $750) for each certified scope. The refund is available for 4 certification scopes: crops, livestock, handling (processing) and wild crops. Certified entities could receive up to $3000 for all 4 scopes. More Details.

5/5/15: Farmers Wanted for Buckwheat Trials

VABF is partnering with VSU and VT on an evaluation of Buckwheat. VABF is organizing the farmer testing of buckwheat as a cover crop. We seek 4-5 experienced VABF growers to evaluate buckwheat as part of their production systems. More Details

5/5/15: Congressman Robert Hurt to Host Agriculture Roundtables

Join Congressman Robert Hurt at an Agriculture Roundtable for growers, producers and suppliers for a discussion about issues and concerns that impact agriculture in Virginia’s 5th District. The meetings will be held as follows:

  • Wednesday, May 6th:
    8:00am: Mildred’s Meals, 109 E 5th Avenue, Kenbridge, Virginia 23944 RSVP
  • Thursday, May 7th:
    10:00am: Lord Fairfax CC – 6480 College St, Warrenton, VA 20187 RSVP
    2:30pm: Lumi Juice, 1822 Broadway Street, Charlottesville, VA 22902 RSVP
  • Friday, May 8th:
    8:00am: The Colonial Restaurant, 8790 Wards Road, Rustburg, Virginia 24588 RSVP
    2:30pm: The ODAC on Route 29 RSVP

04/17/15: Seven Springs Farm Apprenticeship Program 2015 – involves hands on experience on their 125 acre sustainably managed farm located in Floyd County, Va.

04/6/15: 7 Springs is hiring 2 positions

Seven Springs Farm Organic Farming and Gardening Supplies in Floyd County, VA is now hiring 2 full time positions: Sales Coordinator and Operations Manager. The Sales Coordinator manages the flow of inbound phone sales and customer service and is also involved in outside sales and warehouse activities as needed. The Operations Manager will supervise and participate in all customer service, shipping and receiving functions of the company. See website for details:

04/03/15: Farmer Market Vendors Needed at USDA Farmers Market Washington DC-Application Due April 9

See details here: USDA Farmers Market 2015-2016 Rules(2)

03/30/15: Fundraising for to Support Organic Vegetable Crop Breeding and Variety Evaluation in Virginia

Common Wealth Seed Growers LLC in Louisa County is planning a number of vegetable crop breeding and variety evaluation trials to address some of the toughest challenges that organic farmers and gardeners face in our region.  For example:
Have you struggled to grow cucumbers, melons, or winter squash, only to watch vines die from downy mildew (DM), bacterial wilt (BW) or other diseases year after year? Edmund Frost and co-workers at Common Wealth Seeds have worked for several year with a nationwide network to evaluate existing varieties and develop new varieties with enhanced resistance to these diseases, combined with satisfactory yields and excellent flavor.  In addition to evaluating the most promising varieties from 2013 and 2014 trials in Virginia, Edmund will be making crosses to develop disease resistant cucumber and melon, and will begin the fifth year of selection of a DM resistant butternut derived from a cross between ‘Walthan’ butternut and ‘Seminole’ pumpkin, a powerhouse combination.  (To wit: an accidental F1 cross of those two varieties that came up in my garden in 2013 yielded 110 lb of superbly flavored, if oddly shaped, squash from a single hill of just three plants – and the last one we ate the following June was still at peak flavor.)
Are you looking for lettuce varieties that can take the heat and yield well in our summers?  Common Wealth Seed Growers plans to field-test a dozen varieties that have shown promise for summer production.
Do you wish that sweet corn were not quite so hard to grow organically?  Do you worry about GMO contamination of sweet corn seeds?  Common Wealth Seeds will evaluate several promising open pollinated and hybrid varieties for flavor, earworm resistance, and performance under organic management – and will test the seeds for presence of GMO genetic material before doing a seed increase.
Have you gotten frustrated trying to grow your own vegetable protein only to watch your dry beans turn to mold in autumn rains just before they reach full maturity?  I sure have!  But Edmund is looking forward to testing some promising varieties for mold resistance, earliness, and performance in an organic system.
Last but not least, are you worried about the increasing concentration in the seed industry, the narrowing of the genetic base in major food crops, and farmer disempowerment by seed patenting?  Combine this with the worrisome fact that public crop breeders themselves have become an endangered species, and this is indeed one of the greatest long term threats to our food system.  However, there has been an inspiring counter-trend in recent years – some of the few remaining plant breeders at land grant universities have worked with farmer breeders and seed savers to evaluate older varieties and develop new ones for regional adaptation, disease and pest resistance, and responsiveness to organic production systems.  Beginning about a decade ago, Cornell received a grant for a little under $1 million to establish the Organic Seed Partnership, a network of over 200 farmer breeders working with several universities to develop about 25 new farmer-ready varieties over a five year period.  (That might sound like a lot of money, but it is about 1000 times as  cost-effective as genetic engineering – one GMO variety may cost over $50 million to develop!)  Other farmer-breeder networks, such as the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative, continue this vital work in vegetables as well as field crops like corn and wheat.
Common Wealth Seed Growers is one of Virginia’s leaders in this nationwide movement to reclaim our seeds.  See attached Word file to learn more about their plans for the 2015 growing season, and their fund-raising campaign to support this vital work.  They need just $15,000 to conduct variety evaluations for 11 crops and to do this season’s work on four vegetable breeding projects. If you are interested in contributing to their fundraising efforts, then please donate here:

3/23/15: August 2013 Plant Breeding Listening Session Results

USDA’s Plant Breeding Roadmap was announced last week by Under Secretary Woteki, and it is now posted on the web page of USDA’s Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS).  This page is found at     The direct link to the Roadmap document is    The Plant Breeding Roadmap was developed by the interagency USDA OCS Plant Breeding Working Group (PBWG), including ARS, NIFA, ERS, FS, and NRCS; and draws on extensive stakeholder input.

3/16/15: Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI)
This is USDA’s largest competitive research grants program, and it includes a significant emphasis on plant breeding and genetics and publi cultivar development. Although it is not specifically an organic ag research program, the priority areas include a lot of sustainable ag related priorities, including plant breeding and public cultivar development.

For more information, see NSAC blog on the 2015 AFRI program and Requests for Application at

To find the current Requests for Applications for specific programs, visit the AFRI web page at , scroll down to Related Content and the list of Related Funding Opportunities, and click on the item of interest.

3/16/15: Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI)
Pre-applications due March 30
Full applications (invited on the basis of evaluation of pre-applications) are due July 2
This program funds large integrated research and extension projects on specialty crops (fruit, vegetables, nuts, herbs, cut flowers, nursery stock) for both organic and conventional production systems
For more information, including the 2015 Request for Applications, visit

3/16/15: Organic Research and Extension Initiative: Application Deadline April 30
OREI offers $17.5 million in USDA funding in 2015 for research, education, and extension projects specifically for USDA certified organic farming systems.  Over the past 10 years, OREI has funded a lot of excellent research and outreach projects on top organic producers’ priorities including soil quality and nutrient management; weed, pest and disease management; and farmer-partricipatory projects on crop breeding and genetis for organic systems, including variety evaluation, crop breeding and public cultivar development.
Details at this link.

3/16/15:Organic Transitions Program (ORG)
USDA funding for research, education, and extension projects focusing on:
The environmental benefits of organic and transitioning-to-organic production systems, including,
Projects that seek to develop effective new cultural practices, organic-compatible materials, or integrated strategies as alternatives to substances that the National Organic Program plans to phase out (e.g., antibiotic sprays for fire blight control in apple and pear; methionine nutrition for poultry; or Chilean sodium nitrate for a quick N fix). For more on this program visit the NSAC blog at:

3/13/15: Tricycle Gardens Looking for Farm Manager

Tricycle Gardens is seeking a dynamic and energetic Urban Farm Manager to oversee the organization’s urban agriculture sites. The ideal candidate will have a deep understanding of organic and sustainable growing practices, season extension techniques, four season farming and enjoy sharing their knowledge with farm visitors, fellows, workforce development participants, students and volunteers. Experience farming in an urban environment is a plus. More Information

3/10/15: National Survey on Cover Crops Seeks Farmer Participation

Farmers are invited to share their thoughts on cover crops – whether or not they use cover crops themselves – in a national survey, now in its third year of collecting valuable data on the increasingly popular management practice. The results, which will be released this summer, will help growers, researchers, agricultural advisors, ag retailers and policymakers more effectively address questions about cover crops and learn about best practices.
Take online survey now

3/6/15: Do you Grow Vegetables or Fruits?  If so, Your Opinions Are Needed! 

As a farmer in this region, your help is needed! Please tell us about your preferences when it comes to how you market your fruits and vegetables? A survey is being conducted between Virginia Tech, NC State University, and other local universities to better understand the marketing methods, needs, and preferences of our area’s fruit and vegetable farmers. Your answers will be anonymous and will provide important information on the challenges and tradeoffs that fruit and vegetable farmers consider before entering into agreements with buyers.

Please share your thoughts and opinions by completing our online survey. As thanks for sharing your opinions, enter to win 1 of 5 $150 pre-paid Visa gift cards!

Link to survey:

2/13/15: Make Sure Your Farm or Ranch Counts!
The National Agriculture Statistics Service wants to hear from you. NASS conducts a census of all agricultural operations every five years with sampled surveys occurring between censuses. Whether small or large, your agricultural operation is important to gain a complete measure of U.S. agriculture. Take the survey here.

2/12/15: Kickstarter from VABF Member!
Paul Meyer of the Virginia Vegetable Company is upcycling 2 large Tyson chicken coops into high tunnels in Powhatan, Virginia. Watch his video and be a part of his progress,

2/9/15: Survey of farm owners and managers growing vegetables or fruit

The Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Maryland is conducting a nationwide survey of vegetable and fruit growers to better understand how the FDA’s proposed rule on produce safety under the Food Safety Modernization Act will impact them. The survey is intended for farm owners and managers growing vegetables or fruit. It takes about 10 minutes to complete, and we do not collect any identifying information about participants or farms. The survey will remain open through March 2015.

As an incentive to take our survey, participants have the opportunity to enter a drawing for a free Apple iPad after completing the survey. Survey Link. Password: VABF

12/9/14: Strawberry Creek Farm for Sale – Strawberry Creek Farm owner, Warren Landis, is passionate about natural and chemical free farming. He is on the broad of directors for the Virginia Association for Biological Farming, has been a speaker at the Masters Gardener Association of Danville and the Henry County Master Gardeners and has been featured on and Comcast Channel 10 “Know Your Farmer”. Warren Landis invites you to participate in the Certified Naturally Grown experience by buying this farm. Call 434-432-1133 or email him at See for more info.

2015 Allegheny Mountain Institute (AMI) Farm Fellowship: AMI is seeking inspiring individuals to participate in the fifth cohort of their AMI Farm Fellowship (formerly the AMS Fellowship). Applications are available at The deadline to submit your application is January 15, 2015.