Forum for Rural Innovation Will Feature Two From Clarke County

Photo Edward Leonard

The eighth annual Forum for Rural Innovation will be held Friday, March 9, 2012, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Best Western Lee-Jackson Motor Inn & Conference Center in Winchester, Virginia. The annual forum showcases new and exciting projects and programs that enhance farm or rural business profitability. The theme of this year’s Forum is “Direct Marketing Beyond the Traditional Farmers Markets”.

Speakers will discuss their success with providing innovative agri-education programs and share ideas on how to maximize your production by creating value added products.  Also featured will be the benefits of using social media and technology to gain exposure for your business.  Three area farms will be highlighted to explain how they have transitioned from traditional agriculture to innovative food production, preservation, and distribution.  The Forum programs will emphasize farming for high-profitability by using innovative and sound business approaches particularly suited to the Mid-Atlantic region.

Forum topics and speakers will include:

“New Approaches for Some Old Crops”
Bill Mackintosh, Co-owner of Mackintosh Fruit Farm, Berryville, VA.  Mackintosh Fruit Farm grows, harvests, cans and markets a wide variety of products including tomatoes, greens, strawberries, jams, pumpkins and apples. With hundreds of acres of fruit and orchards being lost annually in this region, learn how this family farm expanded on-farm marketing opportunities and increased fruit production

“A Winter Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Model”
Todd Erling, Executive Director, Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation, Hudson , NY  and Jim Hylland, President, Winter Sun Farms, New Paltz, NY.  Winter Sun Farms partners with local, sustainable farms to supply a wonderful winter share of great tasting frozen and stored vegetables all winter long.  Their goal is to deliver a superior product at a fair price for the customer and farmer. Learn how they use product preservation and marketing to redefine the end of the market season.

“ Gaps in the Metropolitan Washington Food System”
Brian LeCouteur, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Washington, DC.   Hear an informative overview of agriculture in the Washington, DC region, in terms of what the region farmers are growing and how much of the regions demands they are able to meet.

 “Mobile Marketing – QR Code Basics”

Stephen Mackey, Co-Founder of Mesh Multimedia & Notaviva Vineyards, Purcellville, VA. Ever noticed those random barcodes on marketing materials?  Come learn the basics on QR Codes, how to generate your own code and the best way to use them to market your business.

“U-pick, U-play, U-grow”

Kate Zurschmeide, Co-Owner of Great Country Farms, Bluemont, VA.  Winner of the 2008 Innovation Award, Great Country Farms continues to expand their innovative business in agritainment, CSA’s, direct marketing and resource management. Hear how this family operation has taken marketing and farm resources to a higher level of success.

“Feeding Mind, Body and Spirit”
Shawna Rinker Hartsook, Co-Owner of Oak Hart Farm, Berryville, VA.  Oak Hart Farm is a produce farm, but more notably, it is an exceptional education farm.  From cooking and canning classes, summer camps and CSA’s, to farm dinners – learn how this family farm is expanding on traditional farming practices.

“Using Google & Social Media to Market Your Business”

Ray Sidney-Smith, President of W3 Consulting, Washington, DC.  As a business and web/digital technology strategist, Ray will provide a crash course on how to utilize social media and other online tools to enhance your business – including the secrets to maximize your virtual presence to attract more customers and visitors.

“Local Food Aggregation, Preservation and Distribution Practices”

Christopher Carpenter, Founder of Lexington/Rockbridge Grows, Lexington, VA.  Following his ground breaking work with local food procurement at Washington & Lee University, Chris is back with a new link in the food value chain.  Lexington/Rockbridge Grows is working to create a local sustainable food system along with providing farmer services such as education in sustainable farming practices and cost analysis of products


During the conference luncheon featuring local food products, the 2012 Innovation Awards will be presented to:

Doug Fabbioli, Fabbioli Cellars, Leesburg, VA

Tyler Caudle, Cedar Springs Farm, Kearneysville, WV

Bill Mackintosh, Mackintosh Fruit Farm, Berryville, VA


In addition, exhibits by agricultural suppliers, support agencies, and area businesses will be featured the entire day. Area agribusinesses are encouraged to participate with exhibits and displays.


The registration fee of $40.00 per person includes the forum program, morning refreshments, and a buffet lunch.  Registration information is available online at or by calling 703-777-0426. Pre-registration by March 1, 2012 is required.


The Forum for Rural Innovation is a cooperative educational effort by the Offices of Agricultural Economic Development and Cooperative Extension in Clarke, Fauquier, and Loudoun Counties of Virginia; Jefferson and Berkeley Counties, West Virginia; the Town of Berryville; and the Small Business Development Center of the Eastern Panhandle.