The 21st annual Virginia Biological Farming Conference is Virginia’s premier organic and sustainable agricultural conference! The Conference brings together farmers, gardeners, eaters, educators and advocates of biological and organic agriculture. The three day Conference includes: Full and Half Day Pre-Conference intensive workshops, 44 sessions, presentations and panel discussions, 50 tradeshow exhibitors, locally sourced farm meals and book signings. The Conference features a Silent Auction and networking opportunities including regional meetings, the Taste of Virginia Expo & Social and more!

Keynote Speakers

Ellen Polishuk,
Plant to Profit

Ellen is a farm consultant, writer and workshop leader. She takes her 35 years of biological vegetable farming experience to help growers around the country. She conducts her production and efficiency consulting through Plant to Profit, and her farm business and profitability consulting through her association with Kitchen Table Consultants. Ellen is the co-author of Start Your Farm, and writes the farmer to farmer profile column for Growing For Market magazine. She lives in the Agricultural Reserve of Montgomery County, Maryland with her husband Dan, where she gardens like crazy.

The State of the Onion Address

Facing a competitive landscape ranging from Uber Eats and to in-store meal kits, from global organic imports to a micro-brewery in every town, how can local farmers not only survive, but thrive in the coming decade? What the heck kind of business are we in, and how can we navigate ever-changing trends? Moreover, why is it so hard to make a profit in farming, and how can we do our best to ensure our success?

Laura Lengnick,
Cultivating Resilience

Laura is an award-winning soil scientist with 30 years of experience working as a researcher, policy-maker, educator and farmer to put sustainability values into action in food systems. Her 2015 book, Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate, examines climate change, resilience and the future of food through the adaptation stories of leading sustainable farmers and ranchers growing food across the U.S. Laura is founder and CEO of Cultivating Resilience, LLC, a firm that works with organizations of all kinds to integrate resilience thinking into operations, assessment and strategic planning.

Climate Change, Resilience and the Future of Food

Climate change is upon us and agriculture is inextricably involved. The evidence is clear: the way that we eat is fueling a climate crisis that threatens our way of life. Athough agriculture contributes to climate change, it can also be a source of solutions. Sustainable principles like soil quality, agro-ecosystem diversity, and regional networks of mutual benefit can slow climate change and enhance the resilience of agricultural businesses and the communities they serve. Sustainable practices like whole farm management and diversified production systems promote the capacity to respond, to recover swiftly, and to make changes that sustain farms and food systems in the face of disruptions of all kinds. Althougth we didn’t know it, sustainable farmers and ranchers, and the people who support them, have been busy over the last 50 years showing us the way to a resilient food future. Join scientist, author, educator and farmer Laura Lengnick as she weaves together the latest climate science and resilience thinking with practical lessons learned from some of America’s best sustainable farmers and ranchers to share a message of hope in these troubling times.

Pre-Conference Workshops

Advanced Organic Vegetable Production

You’ve got the basics covered. Now it’s time to refine your skills, processes and planning. We’ll dive into how to grow better crops starting with great transplants, then addressing fertility, weed and pest issues. Then, checking in with rotation planning, crops and managing harvest and post-harvest. What tools might you want to upgrade to gain efficiencies?

Welcome to the World of Wedding Flowers

So you think you might want to enter the world of wedding flowers. Let’s talk about how to match your skills with the appropriate audience and select your level of commitment to the world of wedding flowers. Gwynn will demonstrate crafting the personal pieces — bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages — and give you time to practice.

The Business of Farming

Have you been too busy with the day-to-day demands of running your farm to pay sufficient attention to the business side of your operation? Or maybe there are some aspects of running the business that intimidate you… or bore you… or just seem to always get pushed off to the side. You’re certainly not alone! We all need to take some time to sharpen our business skills!

Nose to Tail Butchery and Eating

Learn from chef turned butcher, Tanya Cauthen of Belmont Butchery. This two part workshop is designed for farmers and home cooks. Tanya will demonstrate how to break down a pig into retail cuts, make a simple sausage and set up bacon to cure and much more, while going slow enough that farmers and home cooks can do this at home!

Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms

Learn to grow several different types of mushrooms using low-tech, low-cost methods in your garden or woodlot. We will explore the methods for cultivating shiitake, oyster, lion’s mane, reishi, and other mushrooms in wood, straw, and compost.

On Farm Seed Saving and Crop Diversity Trials

On farm seed saving is somewhat of a lost art, but has many benefits to the farmer (and some challenges). This workshop aims to give you the knowledge to start saving your own seeds as well as a realistic look at generating income through seed grow-outs for seed companies. Crop trialing is another on farm activity that can add a lot of value, either in collaboration with researchers or for your own research.

Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training and Certification

The PSA Grower Training Course is one way to satisfy the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirement. Learn about produce safety best practices, key parts of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirements, Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and co-management information, FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirements, and details on how to develop a farm food safety plan.

Harvester Sponsor

Sustainer Sponsor

Pollinator Sponsors

Cultivator Sponsors

Seedling Sponsors

Exhibitors & Advertisers

Agrarian Trust

BioSystems

Common Grain Alliance

Cultivating Resilience

Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Lar=Lyn farms

National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)

Produce Source Partners

Seven Springs Farm

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Thorvin

Utopian Seed Project

USDA-NRCS

Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (VDACS)

Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation and Rural Sustainability (Virginia FAIRS)

Virginia State University

Windrush Microbes