22nd annual Virginia Biological Farming Conference will be held in-person January 22-24, 2022 at The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center.

The 22nd annual Virginia Biological Farming Conference is Virginia’s premier organic and sustainable agricultural conference! The Conference brings together farmers, gardeners, eaters, educators, industry professionals, and advocates of biological, sustainable, regenerative, and organic agriculture.

The three day Conference includes: Pre-Conference intensive workshops, 63 concurrent sessions of workshops, presentations, and panel discussions, 50 tradeshow exhibitors, locally sourced farm meals and book sales with author signings. The Conference highlights include a Youth Program, a Silent Auction and networking opportunities including regional meetings and fireside chats, morning yoga for farmers and the Taste of Virginia Expo & Social. 

Keynote Speakers

Amyrose Foll
The Virginia Free Farm

Amyrose Foll is seeking to dismantle and transform the regional foodshed and create community-driven systems based on collectivism and respect for nature. Amyrose founded The Virginia Free Farm, which works to provide free nutrient dense food assistance to those in need and plants and seeds (free of charge) to community gardens, schools, and community-based organizations. It is a hub for educating young people in the Richmond metro area about indigenous agriculture & lifeways. Amyrose’s strong background in healthcare and her native heritage (Penobscot/Abenaki) is what prompted her to begin advocating for food sovereignty, security, and preservation of indigenous food culture through seed saving & distribution.

AmyRose is also a U.S. Army veteran, former fire fighter-paramedic, and nurse. She has a background in Biology & Healthcare, in addition to a Master’s in Health Information Management, and digital marketing. She holds certificates in viticulture & fruit tree production, poultry production, and well as woodlot management from Cornell University.

Farming Our Past, The Sacred Science of Traditional Ecological Knowledge

The science of traditional ecological knowledge is handed down through millennia of generations as a set of intergenerational observations connecting people to place. My ancestors worked in concert with nature to create a living repository of instructions passed from father to son, and mother to daughter for Earth care, people care, and resource share. Our stories are no longer all considered anecdotal, as western science has caught up, and quantified, or qualified our teachings with numbers. Can traditional stewardship help save us in these times of climate crisis? When we look around to options, have we realized the answers have been standing right next to us all along?

Karen Washington
Rise & Root Farm

Karen is a farmer and activist. She is Co-owner/Farmer at Rise & Root Farm in Chester New York. An activist, food advocate; in 2010, Co- Founded Black Urban Growers (BUGS) an organization supporting growers in both urban and rural settings. In 2012, Ebony magazine voted her one of their 100 most influential African Americans in the country and in 2014 was the recipient of the James Beard Leadership Award. Recently in 2020 Essence magazine name Karen one of their Essential Heroes recipient. Karen serves on the boards of the New York Botanical Gardens, Soul Fire Farm, the Mary Mitchell Center, Black Farmer Fund, and Farm School NYC.

Soil Health is Food Justice

How food is grown is as important to what we eat , who grows it, and how it is grown. Food justice starts with food grown in a way that is fair, just and equitable. We will examine how soil health has impacted the poor and communities of color from seed to plate, and look at ways communities are fighting back to be healthy.

Pre-Conference Workshops

Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms

Mark Jones, Sharondale Mushroom Farm

In this introduction for gardeners and homesteaders, learn to grow several different types of mushrooms using low-tech, low-cost methods in your garden or woodlot. We will explore the biology and ecology of fungi in agriculture, using mushrooms for personal and planetary health, and methods for cultivating shiitake, oyster, lion’s mane, reishi, and other mushrooms in wood, straw, and compost.

Wash/Pack Design – Increase happiness, extend shelf life, lower risks, and reduce bottlenecks

Billy Mitchell, National Farmers Union Foundation Local Food Safety Collaborative

A produce farm’s wash/pack area is important real estate! A place to create a positive environment for you and your employees to effectively and efficiently wash and pack produce – keeping the quality high and the produce safety risks low. We’ll cover simple design strategies, brainstorm solutions to common bottlenecks, diagram and discuss your existing or future wash/pack spaces, and experiment with different tools.

Being a Better Boss

Ellen Polishuk, Plant to Profit

Success in Market Farming depends on your growing prowess, business acumen, AND your people skills. Farmers often underestimate the importance of their leadership skills on the farm. For many, this is the limiting factor of their profitability and certainly their quality of life. Let’s focus on your role as manager (attending to the now) and as a leader (creating the future). We will dive deep into giving and receiving feedback.

Digging Deep on Growing Grains

Common Grain Alliance

Join Common Grain Alliance (CGA) for a half day workshop on grain growing. In this workshop, we will walk through a series of presentations from experts and farmers detailing the following topics:

– Crop Selection, Planting, and Cultivation

– Harvesting and Storage

– Fertility, disease prevention, and soil regeneration

– Processing and Marketing.

Year round Hoophouse Vegetables

Pam Dawling, Twin Oaks Community

In this workshop you’ll learn how to decide which crops to grow; how much to plant and harvest; how to make maps, schedules and crop rotation plans. We’ll discuss which market crops are best at various times of year and consider less common crops, such as seed crops, flowers, and cover crops for soil improvement. Learn how to maximize the use of space and manage challenges such as extreme temperatures, nitrate accumulation in leafy greens, soil-borne diseases, pests and nematodes, salt buildup, and maintaining soil organic matter.

Principles to Produce Nutrient Dense Food

Dan Kittredge, Bionutrient Food Association

Nutrient Dense crops are the byproducts of well functioning biological systems. This workshop will cover a number of critical environmental conditions and management practices necessary for the production of these more flavorful, aromatic, nutritious, pest and disease resistant harvests. The foundational paradigm of how plants have evolved to operate in relation to their environments will be covered, along with practical suggestions having to do with seed quality, mineralization, minimal soil disturbance, inoculation, in season monitoring, integrating cover crops, managing for soil aeration and hydration, and intention.

No-Till Intensive Vegetable Culture

Bryan O’Hara, Tobacco Road Farm

Join renowned organic grower Bryan O’Hara as he describes the no-till methods he has developed, which are completely free of herbicides or other pesticides and require only a few acres of land and minimal capital investment. He asserts that this flexible, ecological methodology is as important for soil fertility as it is for his economic success. This comprehensive workshop will explore the following topics:

  • No-till bed preparation techniques
  • Seeding and transplanting methods
  • Irrigation
  • Use of fertilizers (including foliar feeds)
  • Composting (preparation and application)
  • Culture of indigenous microorganisms to support soil biology
  • Pest and disease management
  • Year-round growing
  • Harvest and storage techniques

Harvester Sponsor

Sustainer Sponsor

Pollinator Sponsors

Cultivator Sponsors

Seedling Sponsors

Exhibitors & Advertisers

Dirtcraft Organics

Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund

Floyd Eco Village

Kenkashi Microbes

Local Environmental Agriculture Project — LEAP

National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)

National Farmers Union

Peace and Harmony Farm

Produce Source Partners

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Stone Soup Books

Thorvin

Twin Springs Farm

Ujamaa Cooperative Farmers Alliance

Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (VDACS), Produce Safety

Virginia State University

Weston A. Price Foundation

Young Living Essential Oils