2023 Session Summaries

By November 7, 2022VABF News

Sessions by track  |  Speaker session schedule  |  Speaker Bios

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Session A             8:30 AM – 10:00 AM

Building resilient, kind and caring food systems to increase the local economy. Funding a better future for our community and region.
April Jones, Pinehurst Farmers Market
How can we enhance current efforts toward community-wide access to healthy, local food year-round? movement building resiliency from the ground up. In this workshop, Pinehurst Farmers Market hosts a dialog exploring how we can better prepare ourselves for future instabilities, such as labor and produce shortages, and transportation issues.

Overwintering: Overview, Crop selection, Techniques and Practical Tips
Dan Gagnon, Broadfork Farm
Overwintering is great tool to have in the Virginia grower’s toolbox. Many growers have experience overwintering at least a few crops like garlic and spinach. But in the Mid-Atlantic there are lots of opportunities for fall plantings that can put food on your market table when harvest are traditionally scant. During this session we will look at a few crops in depth for overwintering success such as onions, leeks, strawberries, cabbage, carrots, spinach and flowers.

Growing Fresh Cut Flowers
Maggie Moomaw, Irvington Spring Farm
This session will be focused on how to start growing cut flowers, and how to incorporate them into your already established farm operation. Including lists and descriptions of best beginner flower crops and perennial must haves as well as tips for successfully succession planting, fall planting, and Information on regenerative flower farming- including biointensive methods, best KNF practices for cut flowers, etc.

Markets for Socially Disadvantaged farmers 2023
Michael Carter, Jr.
2023 Markets – We will explore the plethora of potential markets and pricing for socially disadvantaged farmers in the region. Options include farmers markets in VA, Washington DC, Maryland and North Carolina, wholesale institutional sales, religious institution sales, food banks as well as others. Learn about what markets will be the best for your operation in 2023.

The Healing Power of Cultivating Your Own Apothecary
Ed & Maya Skopal, I-Tal Acres
Ed & Maya with I-Tal Acres will be discussing the relatively simple and hugely empowering act of starting your own medicinal plant garden and home apothecary. They will discuss some ideal medicinal plants to start with (based on ease of cultivation, ease of harvest, and powerful remedies), and how to cultivate, harvest, use, and prepare them. They will also mention some of the herbs you can ‘wildcraft’ in your lawns, meadows, and creek sides and their folk uses. You will learn the basics of making infusions, decoctions, tinctures, and oils.

Seed Stories: A deeper dive into the process of seeds
Michelle Hochkeppel, High Mowing Organic Seeds
We will share a handful of specific organic seed stories; challenges and triumphs of the multi-faceted process. We’ll offer a glimpse into the importance of developing relationships with breeders, farmers and vendors in order to develop the organic varieties that you love. We hope this narrative will facilitate a deeper conversation of what it takes to build regional resilience in seed systems.

Demystifying Vegetable Fermentation
Emilie Tweardy, Appalachian Sustainable Development
Students will leave this session with the skills and confidence to go home and ferment without fear! We’ll talk about ‘What is Fermentation?’, cover basic krauts and brines, and demo each process in a participatory way. This casual session will feature lots of Q and A, and help troubleshoot any challenges attendees may be experiencing in their own fermentation projects.

Session B            10:30 AM – 12:00 PM

AgriSolar: Simultaneously Using land for Agriculture and Solar Production
Chris Lent, National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)

In some areas farmland faces heavy development pressure. Increasing solar development over the next decades will only increase that pressure. What if solar and agriculture could co-exist. NCAT’s AgriSolar Clearinghouse project is about bringing people together who can make this dual use of agricultural lands a reality. If designed properly, livestock grazing, pollinator habitat, apiaries, and crop production can all happen in and around installed solar panels. This session will introduce the AgriSolar project and its partners and show examples of Agrisolar production that currently exist. It will also cover the latest research in this new field of study and the issues that farmers face when considering solar on their land.

Planning for Cover Crops in Your Garden Rotation
Cindy Conner, Homeplace Earth
Cover crops help to feed the soil, attract beneficial insects, and can provide mulch and compost material for your garden. Learn how to plan these great crops into your garden rotation so your beds are full all year. Advice is given to manage these crops with hand tools. No tiller required. Each participant will receive a copy of Cover Crops and Compost Crops IN Your Garden DVD. www.HomeplaceEarth.com

Perennializing food security through urban native plant cultivation.
Jason Aldrich, Undoing Ruin
In this time of waning food security— due to inflation, conflict, global warming and environmental collapse— I present an alternative model of food production: urban native plant cultivation. Our modern cities have been erected upon hardscaped land bereft of connection to the ecosystems all of life depend upon. Perrenializing food security would ensure each successive year that our local native food systems are nurtured, compounding benefits to the greater ecosystem. This class will focus on Virginia native foods and how they can be creatively and succesfully grown in an urban environment. This localism buffers the effects of global warming and instills an appreciation of the natural world for generations to come.

A world gone completely Nuts
Bill Whipple
Small scale regional nut processing is nut’n to laugh at! With the increased accessibility of user friendly robotics we have a bright horizon for reducing the hand labor involved in processing native nuts. We may now be competitive with large scale producers who are shackled to ever increasing transportation costs tied to their top heavy, centralized systems. When we crack open the pinch points of small scale processing making them more economical, we can then create demand for native nuts which will, in turn, incentify farmers to start growing a second tier economy of orchards in their fields helping them economically, delivering to their communities high quality food, and buffering the environment with more trees.

Socially Disadvantaged farmer strategy session 2023
Michael Carter, Jr.
Socially disadvantaged farmer 2023 strategy session – An open and engaging discussion about the needs, wants, successes and challenges for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers as we prepare for 2023. We will discuss solutions and strategies to have a prosperous 2023.

Regenerative Practices for the Home Gardener
Leah M. Webb, MPH
Regenerative practices pull carbon and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and draw them into the soil where they can be stored for hundreds and even thousands of years. Increasing carbon in your soil improves nutrient and water retention, improves drainage, reduces reliance on agricultural inputs, and ensures that home gardeners are growing some of the most nutritiously dense foods available. Regenerative techniques are often discussed when referencing large farms, but these same techniques (and more!) can be easily applied in backyard gardens. Come learn about the factors affecting soil health, why carbon storage is so important, and how to use naturally occurring soil processes to enhance soil nutrition.

Fruit of the Rot: Diversify Your Farm with Mushrooms
Mark Jones, Sharondale Mushroom Farm

Explore the different skills and infrastructure needed for developing a viable mushroom growing business. Discussions will include: evaluating your site, obtaining valuable mushroom strains, evaluating spawn, obtaining substrates, grow-room design, cultivation, harvesting, post-harvest handling, and marketing. With minimal equipment and knowledge of mushrooms, you can amplify and utilize other fungi and microbes to advance soil, plant, and animal health.

From Open Field to Food Forest
Ed & Maya Skopal, I-Tal Acres

A no-till, plant-guild, polyculture approach to increasing soil health, biodiversity, and abundance. It seems like a simple concept, but the way we plant effects the environment around us. Our planting, our cultivating should be building the soil, not depleting it; it should be conserving water, not over-using it; it should be beneficial to pollinators not detrimental to them; our cultivating should be sustainable and mindful. Using the examples of I-TAL Acres food forest and the Floyd Eco Village Learning Garden, we’ll discuss the food forest designs based on the concept of upper canopy, shrub layer, and herbaceous layer.

Biodynamics and the Soil Food Web
Jeff Poppen, Barefoot Farmer, Long Hungry Creek Farm
As a biodynamic market gardener and cattle farmer in the 1980’s and 1990’s, I had lots of questions – how and why did what I do work? Studying with Dr. Ingham and looking through her microscopes enlightened me to the invisible world that I was fostering through composting. This session is about our shift from focusing on vegetable and pasture production to soil microbiology, the consequent improvement of the quality and yields of our crops, and how Elaine’s work reinforced my love of biodynamics.

Session C            2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

Selling the Farm, Plan Before You Need a Plan
Carolyn Quinn, Dug In Farms
The presentation would include practical advice on the considerations to take as you grow your farm operation that will create a more attractive purchase to the next buyer. The considerations include capitalizing overlooked investments and assets; how much and when to pay yourself; marketing your products to the right audience; effectively using resources to attract the right buyer.

Vegetable Disease Identification
Steve Rideout, Virginia Tech
Audience will be introduced to most common vegetable diseases in Virginia as well as diseases that are emerging. Cultural and organic management practices will be discussed where practical.

4 season Carrot Growing
Dan Gagnon, Broadfork Farm
Carrots can be a challenging crop for many growers. Customers love them but getting consistent results can be difficult. In this session we will take a deep dive into the many aspects of growing carrots throughout the year. Dan will share in depth information regarding germination techniques, seeding densities and plant spacings, variety selection, weed control, pest and disease control, season extension, harvesting, post harvest handling, and sales.

Seeds of Ancestors
Michael Carter, Jr.
Join Ujamaa Seeds and seed stewards from around the region to share in the what seeds are available for 2023 and the stories and marketing potential of those various seeds.

Garden Variety Harvests: The Story of an Urban Farm Start-Up
Cam Terry, Garden Variety Harvests
I’ll tell the story of what inspired me to start farming and how I learned enough to get started. We’ll discuss the Small Plot INtensive backyard model including tools and techniques and crop selection. The technical details will be set in the greater context of why urban agriculture is important, and why land access challenges make a dispersed business model a necessity for young and beginning farmers.

Perennializing food security through urban native plant cultivation.
Jason Aldrich, Undoing Ruin 
“The only thing harder than farming is parenting.” <- This unattributed statement often feels true! Part presentation, part interactive session for parents and farmers of all stages: Struggling with the juggle of farming and parenting? Want to start farming and/or parenting? Join in for peer support, community interaction, and new ideas. Join in to learn from a living example of a farmher-mother 15 years in and still joyfully engaging in both. Janet will share photos, stories, tips, and tricks for giving plants, customers, and children each appropriate attention while balancing their unique needs, including a Farm Share-centric farm and homeschooling children. Spoiler alert: Janet’s approach hinges on bomb-proof systems and heart-led communication, and children are incredibly capable when given the need and space to initiate responsibility.

Seed Selection and Crop Diversity for a Changing Climate
Chris Smith/Ira Wallace

A presentation exploring working with heirlooms of the past while imagining and developing varieties of the future. This workshop will cover growing and saving seeds with a focus on diversity, flavor, regional adaptation and climate resilience. Chris will share his journey with ultracross populations of collard and okra, and encourage you to start your own seed selection journey!

Increasing Diversity and Resiliency through Multispecies Grazing
Lee Rinehart, National Center for Appropriate Technology
This session will cover the principles and practices of grazing multiple species of livestock including the benefits on productivity and profitability and its positive impacts on pasture diversity and health. We will discuss how diverse animal species use grazing resources, the types and kinds of fencing and working facilities needed by various animals, vegetation management, how to make stocking-rate decisions, and how to deal with predators, mineral supplementation, and parasites.

Session D            4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

Farmers as Endurance Athletes: Stretch and Strengthen to Stay In the Game
Janet Aardema, Broadfork Farm

Farming is often an active lifestyle but full of repetitive movements and not always ideal ergonomics. In order to keep farming the way that best suits you, avoid injury (and/or recover from), and enjoy best physical fitness, you’ll benefit from stretching and strengthening complementary muscle groups on a regular basis. Drawing on experience from 12 years of market farming, preceded by collegiate athletic competition, Janet will help bring awareness to where your physical ability to farm is vulnerable and how to keep yourself able to farm, comfortably strong and without injury, through building stretching and strengthening sessions into your weekly routine. Think you don’t have time? Join in to learn why prioritizing these habits is a worthwhile investment in your farming future.

Heirloom Varieties for the Mid-Atlantic
Dominic Carpin, delli Carpini Farm

Using my experience of 8 years raising heirlooms in Hanover County Virginia and Goochland County Virginia I would present the best recommended varieties along with photographs of the crops and production and post harvest.

Organic Production of Winter Greens
Ira Wallace

Learn some of the best practices for producing and post-harvest handling of greens through the winter with covers and greenhouses, and outside in the south. Long-time producer Ira Wallace will discuss tips and timing for growing kale, collards, mustards and turnip greens, as well as lettuce and salad greens with herbs. Ira Wallace, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (VA)

Labor support for socially disadvantaged farmers 2023
Michael Carter, Jr.

Need help on your farm. Carter Farms and Africulture is working with agricultural worker agencies to utilize and share H2A workers for small farmers in Virginia. Consistent labor can be quite challenging and expensive, and our H2A labor share opportunity will assist in reducing the costs while providing labor when you need it. This opportunity is open to all small farmers in need of some other labor solutions.

Maximize Your Backyard Harvest
David & Nicole Schauder, Permaculture Gardens (Bethany Farm, Leesburg)

More information coming soon.

Make-and-Take your own vermicompost bin
Karen Fetty, Hanover-Caroline SWCD
Learn how composting kitchen scraps can divert waste from landfills to create black gold for your garden! With the help of red wriggler worms, produce your own natural fertilizer that increases plant health and productivity while also improving soil structure. All bin materials and a coupon redeemable for 1 lb. of Buckeye Organics red wriggler worms included in workshop fee. Scholarships may be available.

Biomimicry at a systems level
Ben Friton, The REED Center for Ecosystem Reintegration

An exploration of the laws governing thriving ecosystems that allow them to grow indefinitely and how humans can leverage biomimicry in our relationships, dwellings, farms, communities and society. Ben’s time in politics as well as his time with refugees and the food insecure and displaced, give him rare insights on the interface of economics and ecology, and some surprising ways in which human history has determined the world we’ve inherited and what we can do about it.

Pasture Raised Poultry
Adam Auccoin

More information coming soon.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

 7:00 AM – 8:00 AM
Yoga for Farmers
Mary Cush, Pamplin Community Yoga
Roanoke Ballroom D
Gentle flow yoga with an emphasis on body awareness and posture while you farm

Session E            8:30 PM – 10:00 AM

Value-Added Seed Saving: Adding Value While Preserving Agrobiodiversity
Ben Casteel, Virginia Highlands Community College

Southern Appalachia is home to the highest Agrobiodiversity in the country and close to the highest in the world. This session will inform participants of how to play a significant role in preserving this living history while creating value-added products and maximizing revenue. Join this discussion at the crossroads of sustainable agriculture and culinary conservation. The session will focus on Solanaceae and Cucurbitaceae crops.

Mission-driven farming: increasing profits by fighting food insecurity
Sam Hedges, Local Environmental Agriculture Project
LEAP will facilitate a panel discussion on integrating a mission to fight food and nutrition insecurity into a farm business. LEAP has held food access as a core value since its foundation and has proven that farmers can earn more by serving a more diverse customer base that includes people with limited food budgets and high food insecurity. Our healthy food incentives draw in customers enrolled in SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), Medicaid, WIC, and other services, and we support farmers markets, co-ops, and farms around the state in building successful incentive programs. More and more, the local food community is challenging the base assumption that fresh, nutritious food is reserved for those with wealth, but it takes a mission-driven commitment from our producers to lower the barriers to food: cost, proximity, and awareness. The customers who use healthy food incentives at our markets shop because they want to choose good food and they want to know the people who grow it. In this session, LEAP will invite farm partners with missions to fight food insecurity to speak about ways in which a farm business can reach more people, increase income, and improve the health of their communities. Panelists will include Susanna Thornton of Thornfield Farm, Cam Terry of Garden Variety Harvests, Vanessa Clemens of Community Roots, and LEAP Market Manager Connie Kenny. LEAP Director of Support Services Sam Hedges will act as moderator.

Alliums Year Round
Pam Dawling, Twin Oaks Community

You can grow onions or some of their relatives in every month of the year in the mid-Atlantic. As well as bulb onions and garlic, this workshop includes leeks, perennial alliums, scallions, garlic scapes, elephant garlic, shallots, pickling onions, and many unusual alliums. This workshop covers planting, caring for the crop, harvesting, storage (when possible) and saving seed stock for replanting.

Paid Focus(ed) Group for socially disadvantaged farmers
Michael Carter, Jr.
The purpose of the Focus group will be to highlight the experiences of individual Black farmers who are contributing to Virginia’s rural and urban food systems and to connect Black farmers who are organizing at the grassroots level with each other for networking purposes. To accomplish this purpose, I am seeking Black farmer organizers’ participation in a 60-90minutes focus group discussion. Compensation for participation is available.

Farming with Vintage Tractors
Dominic Carpin
Explore my experience owning and operating the Farmall Cub, Farmall Super A and Ferguson TO35 tractors how to use them in your production system as well as various care and maintenance items.

Spiders: an overlooked tool for keeping insect pest populations in check
Cerruti RR Hooks, University of Maryland
Spiders are a diverse group of generalist predators and considered one of the most important groups of natural enemies of insects worldwide. They are important to agriculture because they represent more than half the predatory fauna in cropping systems and are frequently the first natural enemies to colonize newly planted fields. Similar to other natural enemies, production and land management practices conducted within and in areas, neighboring crop fields affect spider diversity, numbers and efficacy as biological control agents. Farming practices that can reduce or enhance spiders’ efficiency as biological control agents will be discussed.

Human Centric Ecosystem Mimicry in Agriculture and Global Economic Structures
Ben Friton, The REED Center for Ecosystem Reintegration

Mr. Friton will discuss leveraging research & technologies that give us perspectives that no human ancestors could have known as they designed the systems that dictate our modern lives. From the study of microbiology, and the countless organisms that self-organize for maximum plant, human & ecosystem health, to technologies like satellite imagery that show us our first multi-generational macro perspectives, he will describe the natural systems our species must mimic to avoid catastrophe.

Work-Flow Calendar for Low Input Cattle and Vegetable Farm
Jeff Poppen, Barefoot Farmer, Long Hungry Creek Farm
Long-term market gardens thrive with a continuous and liberal supply of aged manure/hay compost. A grass-based operation creates excess fertility that dovetails nicely with truck farming. We will look at the workload through the months of a year on our farm, raising six acres of vegetables and managing 40 head of cattle while minimizing off-farm inputs.

Session F            10:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Agricultural solutions to climate change for Virginia
Cathy Day and Mark Schonbeck, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition & Organic Farming Research Foundation
Like much of the east coast of the United States, Virginia is expected to experience more extreme and erratic rainfall events and possibly more intense or sudden-onset droughts as a result of climate change. . Its plant hardiness zones are expected to shift by another full zone well before the end of the century. Higher temperatures combined with high humidity are also expected to create increasing challenges for the agricultural workforce as well as aggravating crop diseases and livestock stress. How should Virginia’s farmers prepare for such increasing challenges? We will discuss the farming systems that are most likely to help with mitigating future climate risk, while also helping to decrease agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. From planting more trees and other perennial crops to building rotations that keep the ground covered and build soil health, we will discuss top recommendations for building climate resilience. We will also discuss how federal policies can help farmers to implement such systems. Federal conservation programs, including cost-share and loan programs, as well as the technical assistance associated with them, provide farmers pathways to integrating conservation approaches on their land.

Growing Great Vegetables in VA
Ira Wallace
Tips and techniques for growing garden fresh produce all year-round. Covers great new varieties and beloved standards for Virginia, including vine ripened tomatoes, crisp green peppers, outstanding winter collards, and dozens of other delicious edibles. Discussion of soil building, planting dates, succession sowing, mulch, managing water, selecting the best varieties for success, and more.

Asian Greens in the Winter Hoophouse
Pam Dawling, Twin Oaks Community
This workshop covers the production of Asian greens in the winter hoophouse, for both market and home growers. Included are tips on choosing among over 20 types of Asian greens, ways to keep the space fully planted: filler greens, follow-on cropping, interplanting, and succession planting. Harvesting is covered, as well as crop rotation, irrigation and pest and disease management.

Introductory Biodynamics: Holistic Basis of a Self-Sufficient Farm
Stewart Lundy, Perennial Roots Farm

More information coming soon.

Get to know your arthropod allies
Thomas Kuhar and Tim Kring, Virginia Tech

Beneficial organisms including arthropods play an important role in the agroecosystem. Helping growers to recognize the organisms that drive natural pest control can aid them in IPM decision making as well as conservation measures.

Urban agriculture
John Wilson, Drishti Compost

Why we need to decentralize our food system. The role urban ag could play in that . How to go about it.

Agroforestry: The Ins, Outs, and Future
John Munsell, Virginia Tech
Attendees learn about temperate agroforestry principles, practices, and strategies. Presentations on applications in Virginia and beyond draws on more than 15 years of experience. Case studies and technical and financial assistance programs provide attendees real-world insights and opportunities, including a deep dive into emerging large-scale conversion support initiatives that attendees can use to integrate agroforestry production into their operation.

Session G            1:30 PM – 3:00 PM

Balancing Farm and Family
Janet Aardema, Broadfork Farm

“The only thing harder than farming is parenting.” <- This unattributed statement often feels true! Part presentation, part interactive session for parents and farmers of all stages: Struggling with the juggle of farming and parenting? Want to start farming and/or parenting? Join in for peer support, community interaction, and new ideas. Join in to learn from a living example of a farmher-mother 15 years in and still joyfully engaging in both. Janet will share photos, stories, tips, and tricks for giving plants, customers, and children each appropriate attention while balancing their unique needs, including a Farm Share-centric farm and homeschooling children. Spoiler alert: Janet’s approach hinges on bomb-proof systems and heart-led communication, and children are incredibly capable when given the need and space to initiate responsibility.

Taking the “suck” out of succession
Bill Whipple, W.T. Farm

Succession is Nature’s subtle, runaway, freight train moving through time. Farms are growing up all around us and that can suck a lot of energy from the landowner. It is said, “we clear, and we clear, and we clear, and then we die.” After working with trees and plants in a way that encourages wild edge and diversity for the last 35 years, the scale easily tips towards Nature overwhelming us. This discussion focuses on first understanding succession, and then stratagizing techniques with plants to guide this formidable force so we farmers can decrease stress, increase yield and resiliency through diversity, replacing “SUCK-session with SUCCESS-ion.

A Survey of Home Preservation Methods
Maureen Diaz, Weston A. Price Foundation

In this we cover everything from fermenting, canning, salting, drying, root cellaring, and more. Including value-added ideas and methods for the small scale farm or cottage kitchen.

Demystifying Vegetable Fermentation
Emilie Tweardy, Appalachian Sustainable Development

Students will leave this session with the skills and confidence to go home and ferment without fear! We’ll talk about ‘What is Fermentation?’, cover basic krauts and brines, and demo each process in a participatory way. This casual session will feature lots of Q and A, and help troubleshoot any challenges attendees may be experiencing in their own fermentation projects.

Growing, Saving and Eating Heirloom Collards
Chris Smith/Bonnetta Adeeb
The Heirloom Collard Project is working with over sixty varieties of heirloom collards to regenerate seed and celebrate the history, culture and cuisine of collards. This presentation will cover the work of stewarding these varieties (we need more seed stewards) as well as the cultural importance of collards, taste testings, variety trials and using and marketing collards. If you want to take a deep dive into collards or just learn more about collaborative seed work, then this presentation is for you.

Integrating Livestock and Vegetable Production
Stewart Lundy, Perennial Roots Farm

Learn about the benefits of a diversified farm and the possibility of producing meat from less fertile soil as well as producing fertility for the garden from livestock. Add an additional revenue stream as well as reducing fertility costs for the garden.

Session H            3:30 PM – 5:00 PM

Certified Naturally Grown: Stewarding Community, Peer Learning, and Market Success
Erin Worrall, Certified Naturally Grown

For 20 years Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) has offered peer-review certification for farmers producing food for their local communities according to high ecological standards. The grassroots approach emphasizes accessibility and continuous improvement. Learn how CNG goes beyond providing a marketing edge, but also works to create peer-learning opportunities that boost success for vegetable and flower growers, beekeepers, and livestock operations. Join this panel of CNG producers and a representative of the organization. They will share about new peer-learning and community building opportunities, and speak about their own experience and the benefits of CNG certification.

Climate Change Vegetables
April Jones, Pinehurst Farmers Market
Climate Ready Farming Practices. Become your own climate hero! Learn about the ways that you can combat climate, to create a more friendly and kind farming practice. Learn how you can create your own direct climate action plant, and the types of drought tolerant plants that you can plant and profit from and to grow revenue at your farm. Protecting natural resources, storing carbon and building resiliency.

Build Your Homestead in Seven Steps
Leah M. Webb, MPH
Building a highly productive homestead is best accomplished using incremental steps that increase your workload and skillset overtime. Leah will discuss the seven steps and corresponding inputs she’s used to slowly build her diverse homestead using no-dig, no-till, deep organic practices that are applicable for both rural and urban settings. Her own homestead was built on just three quarters of an acre in an urban community and started with just a few beds. She slowly expanded to include berries and fruit trees, perennial crops, four season growing, storage crops, and eggs. Participants will learn how to dream big while setting realistic and achievable homesteading goals.

Closing The Nutrient Loop In Regenerative Agriculture Systems
Jay Dunbar, River Ridge Organics
The farm eco-system is a constant flow of energies and resources, and one of the farmer’s primary objectives is to manage this flow in the most efficient and productive way possible. Among other strategies, farmers strive to close the nutrient loop or re-capture “wastes” which can become feedstocks for other processes. Using this systems approach, we will explore the ways in which we can hone our farm enterprises to require fewer off-farm inputs and build more resilient, low-input farm systems. Using his experiences with organic berry production as an example, Dunbar will lead attendees through a conversation, exploring practical ways in which on-farm resources and complimentary farm enterprises can provide fertility, pest control, and more. We will also discuss the ways in which understanding the nutrient loop can aid beginning farmers as they design and re-design their farm.

Compost: How to Make it and Use it.
John Wilson

My history of making compost, my reliance on for fertility, and the many benefits.

Grassfed Cattle Production: Genetics & Management, Fun & Profit
Gil Yearwood,
Description coming…

MarketLink: Grant funding to help direct marketing farmers & farmers’ markets accept SNAP/EBT
Amy Crone
MarketLink is a program of the National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (“NAFMNP”). In partnership with the USDA and Novo Dia Group (“NDG”), MarketLink assists farmers and markets with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) Retailer Application, and connects them with free app-based SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer (“SNAP/EBT”) processing equipment. We also offer options for integrated credit/debit payment processing. MarketLink has a long-term vision of sustainability for farmers and markets through a broader customer base, increased sales, and profitability. Founded in 2013 in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture, MarketLink has helped more than 3,000 farmers and markets accept electronic payments – including more than $69m in SNAP sales and $58m in credit/debit sales for a total impact of more than $127m. In 2019, USDA awarded NAFMNP a Cooperative Agreement to implement the ‘free equipment program’, providing grant funding for equipment to direct marketing farmers and farmers markets. In 2021, NAFMNP was awarded a USDA grant to help farmers accept SNAP benefits online. The first part of the presentation explains what is provided through the MarketLink grant for eligible farmers and farmers markets, such as free point-of-sale (POS) equipment, one-year free TotilPay Go subscription, and technical assistance. Amy will then break down the requirements and best practices for the SNAP Retailer Application. The last portion of the presentation will cover additional MarkeLink projects and how it will streamline farmers and markets’ payments for Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) participants, such as eWIC/FMNP/incentives, and Online SNAP.