2-4-13 WV Small Farm Conference features more topics

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Agricultural enthusiasts looking to improve their understanding of agriculture and connect with fellow farmers are invited to register for the ninth annual West Virginia Small Farm Conference, Feb. 28 to March 2, at Waterfront Place Hotel and Conference Center in Morgantown.

Registration is available through the West Virginia Small Farm Center website:  http://smallfarmcenter.ext.wvu.edu/.

The conference brings together many experts, including West Virginia University Extension agents and experienced farmers, for a three-day learning experience with more than 70 classes covering everything from horticulture to farm taxes.

“People learn about more than 50 issues and methods that can make their farms and families more profitable, including new crops,” said Tom McConnell, WVU Extension Service Small Farm Center program leader. “We’ve learned from our farmers that it’s more than answering ‘what opportunities are out there?’ It’s about teaching them how to embrace those opportunities.”

The conference begins with a selection of intensive workshops on Thursday, Feb. 28, covering high tunnel construction and management, farmers markets, food business, agritourism and youth entrepreneurship.

Participants have the opportunity to earn special certifications in processing and management. The Better Process Control School classes take place Feb. 27 and 28.  Participants will walk away with a license sell their preserved products. The Good Agricultural Practices/Good Handling Practices certification course also certifies attendees in Best Management Practices.

A Youth Entrepreneurship Workshop gives young agriculturalists an open forum to exchange ideas and learn from professionals. Last year more than 125 FFA students attended the conference with their advisors.

On March 1 and 2, the conference offers more than 70 classes, including returning favorites, such as high tunnels, agricultural law, marketing, agritourism, managing a layer flock and estate planning. Other classes will focus on timely topics in horticulture and farmers market management.

New topics include sessions on forming cooperatives, farm-to-school issues, integrated pest management including deer, teamwork and team roles, insurance, red meat production and a series of personal and business financial workshops.

The annual Winter Blues Farmers Market is open to attendees and the public from 3-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at Waterfront Place. Vendors sell everything from local meats and veggies, to breads. Admission to the market is free.

A Local Food Dine-Around will coincide with the farmers market. Tickets for this event will be sold at the door and may be purchased by the public. The dine-around features local foods from 15 West Virginia restaurants and will showcase locally grown products.

To register for the conference, or to view a tentative schedule, visit www.smallfarmcenter.ext.wvu.edu.

For information about the WV Small Farm Conference, contact Program Coordinator Carrie See at 304-293-2715 or carrie.see@mail.wvu.edu.

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