Forum for Rural Innovation Will Showcase Programs for Farms and Rural Businesses

The seventh annual Forum for Rural Innovation will be held Friday, March 11, 2011, 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Best Western Lee-Jackson Motor Inn & Conference Center in Winchester, Virginia. This forum will showcase new and exciting projects and programs that enhance farm or rural business profitability. The models presented at the forum also focus on conserving farmland and natural resources, and developing new approaches to rural prosperity in upscale areas where land commands premium prices.
The program features presentations from some of the most progressive and recognized agriculture businesses in the region. In addition, Richard Pirog from the world renowned Leopold Center in Ames, Iowa will be featured as a keynote speaker on developing food systems (production, marketing, 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:

“Local Food Networks and Working Groups To Help Local and Regional Food Value Chains”
Richard S. Pirog, Associate Director, The Leopold Center, Ames, Iowa. Hear how a regional working group offers a collaborative environment for farmers, community leaders, non-profits, government, and private organizations to share resources and support to build food value chains.

“Statewide Food Systems Organizing in West Virginia”
Savanna Lyons, program Manager, West Virginia Food and farm Coalition, Beckley, West Virginia. Learn how local food systems are being developed in West Virginia to provide healthy, locally-produced food to all citizens, especially low income families and other vulnerable groups.

“Ins and Outs of Filling the Wholesale Gap in a Regional Food System”
Paul Mock, Mock’s Greenhouse and Landscaping, Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Mr. Mock will share how he has prepared his business and products to distribute to large volume retailers, and what challenges he faces to distribute to a growing customer base.

“Economic Impact of Local Foods”
Richard S. Pirog, Associate Director, The Leopold Center, Ames, Iowa. States and counties need to understand the potential economic benefits that increased local food commerce may bring before investing in economic development strategies. Hear how Iowa legislature is requesting a Local Farm and Food Plan that includes funding and policy recommendations.

“TechnoBillies 101 – A Farmers Guide to Facebook”
Stephen Mackey, Owner of MeshMedia and Notaviva Vineyards LLC, Purcellville, Virginia.
Back by popular demand! Mr. Mackey will show how to set up a Facebook account, find friends, connect your mobile device, leverage applications, market your business, and have fun!

“Transitioning to Wholesale Vegetable Production and Sales”
Dr. Gordon Johnson, University of Delaware Fruit and Vegetable Specialist, Delaware Cooperative Extension.   Learn about transitioning from field crops or small scale production to wholesale production and sales of vegetables and fruit. To include equipment, growing methods, packing and cold storage, labor management, and marketing to wholesale distributors.

During the conference luncheon featuring local food products, the 2011 Innovation Awards will be presented to:
The Fauquier Education Farm – Fauquier County, VA
Hedgebrook Farm – Frederick County, VA
Cool Lawn Farms, LLC – Fauquier County, VA
Quarter Branch Farm – Loudoun County, 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 www.LoudounFarms.org or by calling 703-777-0426. Pre-registration by March 4, 2011 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, Frederick and Loudoun Counties of Virginia; Jefferson and Berkeley Counties, West Virginia; Potomac Headwaters and Shenandoah RC&D; Virginia Cooperative Extension and WVU Extension.