These intensive workshops give you a chance to dig deep into important topics.

Register for VABF2016

Monday meals are on-your-own. There are 4 restaurants on campus, or you may pack a lunch.

Workshop registration includes our evening film in the Homestead’s private theater.

We’ll feature an Ag-related documentary, TBD. Please cast your vote here!

Half-Day Workshops ~ $75 each for VABF Members / $95 for Non-members

Growing Fungi for Farm Diversity & Resilience 

with Mark Jones of Sharondale Farm 9:00 – 1:00

As our planet rapidly changes, we must find solutions to retain and build resilience in our agroecosystems. Explore our alliance with fungi which provides farmers opportunities to support and grow biodiversity, enhance ecosystem services, and provide food and medicine for our communities and the planet. We will discuss advanced techniques for mushroom growing and how to use mycelium as solutions to grow a regenerative agriculture.  More about Mark

Pastured Duck Production from Start to Finish

with Erica & Joel of Free Union Grass Farm 9:00 – 1:00

This intensive overview of our pastured duck operation will cover every step of production, from day old ducklings to dressed, packaged meat birds. We’ll discuss in depth the ins and outs of brooder care, field production, and the biggest challenge: processing. Also included is a demo on breaking down a whole bird into primals to increase your margins. While this workshop can be enjoyed by the farmer novice, it will be a real boon for those with existing operations looking to break into the duck market. More about Erica & Joel.

Whole Hog Butchering Demo & Pork Marketing Workshop

with Meredith Leigh of The Ethical Meat Handbook 2:00 – 5:00

Learn how to maximize profit on the whole hog. This workshop will include a butchery demo that will showcase value-added cuts, cooking tips for customers, and muscle science to inform culinary success. We will also discuss options for value added processing and salt preservation, and discuss cost of production principles to explore obstacles and opportunities in niche meat production & marketing.  More about Meredith and The Ethical Meat Handbook

Manyoldcrowefarm thanks to VABF members Jim & Jacqueline Moyer of Old Crowe Farm for supplying the American Guinea Hog for this butchery demonstration.

Whole-Day Workshops ~ $150 each for VABF Members / $190 for Non-members

Advanced Organic Vegetable Production

with Ellen Polishuk, full day intensive  8:30 –  5:00


From irrigation and deer fence to soil fertility and rotations, let’s see what it takes to make a living from growing and selling vegetables. This is an incredible opportunity to learn from an ecoganic vegetable grower, biological farm consultant and teacher whose successful farm sells at 6 farmers markets, runs two roadside stands and serves a 550 member CSA.

Ellen will help you understand the complexity and beauty of growing food: the nexus of plants, soils and people, while focusing on production of main season vegetables. (This course will not cover marketing, hoophouses or winter growing techniques; those topics are offered in the VABF Conference Sessions.)

Beginners are welcome, but this is intended for growers who are already in the field.  More about Ellen

Special Offers

Thanks to support from The Xerces Society and Local Food Hub, we are able to offer these 2 courses at a reduced rate.

Sales of tickets to this session is CLOSING at 3pm today.

Farming with Beneficial Insects for Pest Management:

A Short-Course on Conservation Biocontrol

with Thelma Heidel-Baker, Ph.D. and Nancy Adamson of the Xerces Society; NRCS state biologist Jeffrey Jones; and Dr Megan O’Rourke from the Dept of Horticulture at VT

 $60 9:00 – 3:30

Learn about supporting beneficial insects that provide pest control in this full-day short course. Conservation biological control is a science-based pest management strategy that seeks to integrate beneficial insects back into cropping systems for natural pest control, ultimately reducing and in some cases eliminating the need for pesticides. Join Thelma Heidel-Baker, Conservation Biocontrol Specialist, and Nancy Adamson, Pollinator Conservation Specialist, from the Xerces Society as they overview conservation biological control and beneficial predators and parasitoids that attack insect pests. Participants will learn how common farm practices can impact beneficial insects and how to assess and create farm habitat for beneficial insects.

Click here for the workshop’s full agenda: hot-springs-va-cbc-2017-agenda-1

Sales of tickets to this session is CLOSING at 3pm today.

Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Course

$50  *  8:30 – 5:30

Who Should Attend

Fruit and vegetable growers and others interested in learning about produce safety, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule, Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), and co-management of natural resources and food safety.

The PSA Grower Training Course is one way to satisfy the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirement outlined in § 112.22(c) that requires ‘At least one supervisor or responsible party for your farm must have successfully completed food safety training at least equivalent to that received under standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration.’

What to Expect at the PSA Grower Training Course

The trainers will spend approximately seven hours of instruction time covering content contained in these seven modules:

  • Introduction to Produce Safety
  • Worker Health, Hygiene, and Training
  • Soil Amendments
  • Wildlife, Domesticated Animals, and Land Use
  • Agricultural Water (Part I: Production Water; Part II: Postharvest Water)
  • Postharvest Handling and Sanitation
  • How to Develop a Farm Food Safety Plan

In addition to learning about produce safety best practices, key parts of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirements are outlined within each module.  There will be time for questions and discussion, so participants should come prepared to share their experiences and produce safety questions.

Benefits of Attending the Course

The course will provide a foundation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and co-management information, FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirements, and details on how to develop a farm food safety plan.  Individuals who participate in this course are expected to gain a basic understanding of:

  • Microorganisms relevant to produce safety and where they may be found on the farm
  • How to identify microbial risks, practices that reduce risks, and how to begin implementing produce safety practices on the farm
  • Parts of a farm food safety plan and how to begin writing one
  • Requirements in the FSMA Produce Safety Rule and how to meet them.

After attending the entire course, participants will be eligible to receive a certificate from the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) that verifies they have completed the training course.  To receive an AFDO certificate, a participant must be present for the entire training and submit the appropriate paperwork to their trainer at the end of the course.


Dr. Laura Strawn, Extension Specialist, Produce Food Safety, Eastern Shore AREC

Rachel Pfuntner, Research Specialist, Eastern Shore AREC

Kelli Scott, VCE Agent, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Montgomery County

Adrianna Vargo, Director of Grower Services, Local Food Hub

Cost to Attend

This is a special opportunity to take this Certification Course for a reduced rate of only $50 rather than $85. Includes a Certificate of Course Attendance from AFDO. Local Food Hub will provide a complimentary PSA Grower Training Manual ($50 value) for each participant.

minimum of 10 participants to hold the class / maximum of 30



Register for VABF2016