More than 700 agricultural leaders from across the country will gather in Virginia Beach September 20-22 to identify ways to secure the future success of our nation’s small farms and ranches, numbers of which have been dwindling for decades, while the number of very large farms has seen rapid growth.
The conference specifically focuses on small farmers because of the vital role they play in the national economy, environmental sustainability, local (agro-) biodiversity, and landscape and cultural heritage. Yet they face unique challenges that set them apart from mid-size or large farming operations.
According to the USDA, a small farm is any farm whose gross cash farm income is less than $350,000. Farms who generate more than that annually are considered commercial farms. A whopping 89 percent of U.S. farms are considered small and operate nearly half of the country’s farmland, however those farms account for only 22 percent of agricultural production in the U.S.
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Virginia Tech Director of Dining Services Alex Hessler (above) will speak on a panel along with other college faculty about urban agriculture during the Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit.
From backyard chickens to rooftop apiaries, beginning farmers are looking to urban agriculture as an increasingly popular and sustainable way to combat food insecurity and build a sense of community in cities and towns across the commonwealth.
Commonwealth residents who are interested in finding out more about urban farming can attend the third annual Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit from Oct. 22-23 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Richmond.
The event, which is being sponsored in part by Virginia Cooperative Extension, will feature summit keynote speakers and panelists who will address the current state and future of urban farming operations in the United States, as well as visits to the Harding Street Community Agricultural Center in Petersburg and the Tricycle Gardens in Richmond.
The Extension initiative to create a produce auction in Southside Virginia has been a boon to local producers.
Marketing fruits and vegetables used to be a challenge in Southside Virginia. A lack of outlets for farmers to get their produce to market limited the amount that could be sold, which diminished farmers’ profits.
The solution? A produce auction was born in 2012 with assistance from Virginia Cooperative Extension to help farmers sell products and decrease the amount of time they spent manning markets and roadside stands.
BLACKSBURG, Va., March 25, 2014 – Communities across the country are realizing important social, health and nutrition, economic, and aesthetic benefits from incorporating urban farming and food production into their planning processes and redevelopment strategies.
Community stakeholders are invited to explore these benefits and the importance of urban agriculture programs during the Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit to be held April 15-16 at the Holiday Inn Lynchburg.
The summit is an opportunity for community members and agriculture stakeholders to come together to take a more in-depth look at urban agriculture in the Commonwealth of Virginia — past, present, and future — along with its many challenges and opportunities.
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Edwin Jones, director of Virginia Cooperative Extension; and Michael Van Ness, executive director of Lynchburg Grows are presented the Virginia General Assembly’s resolution designating October as Urban Agriculture Month in Virginia. Pictured from left to right: Delegate Ben Cline, Van Ness, Jones, Delegate Kathy Byron, and Delegate Scott Garrett.
Lynchburg Grows and Virginia Cooperative Extension celebrated the important role that agriculture plays in the commonwealth’s economy and the designation of October as Urban Agriculture Month in Virginia with a ceremony at the Lynchburg Grows H.R. Schenkel Urban Farm and Environmental Center in Lynchburg on Oct. 17. Read More