Mark Your Calendar: Tri-State Farm to Food Conference

From the West Virginia Community Development Hub and the WV Food and Farm Coalition

For the third straight year, farmers, producers, locavores and foodies will converge on Huntington for in-depth training and discussions on the agricultural community in this part of West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. The Tri-State Farm to Food Conference is Oct. 12 and 13 at the Pullman Plaza Hotel in Huntington, WV.

The conference will focus on the food system, or foodshed, within 50 miles of Huntington. This encompasses 15 counties in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. West Virginians spend more than $7 billion on food every year. Less than 1 percent of that wealth stays in West Virginia. But change is underway.
 
Local farms are getting more attention lately, as a locally-grown movement sweeps the nation. That movement includes the Ohio River Valley, where new farmers markets are opening and a new local food market, The Wild Ramp, has opened in Huntington. “With such opportunity for growth and expansion of the agricultural community and foodshed in the Tri-State region, we feel it is an ultimate necessity to bring farmers, consumers, cafeterias, and businesses in this region together to continue revolutionizing Huntington’s foodshed,” said Tom McConnnell, the WVU Extension Service Small Farm Center program leader.
An exciting, new feature this year is the Farm Festival, which kicks off at 5 p.m., Friday, Oct. 12. The Farm Festival will feature a farmer’s market and a food fair. Local vendors will offer their farm products, while area chefs use local ingredients to showcase their best dishes at the food fair. These events are open to the public and will be held at Heritage Station, 210 11th Street, in downtown Huntington.
 
Lunch is provided both days, sourced from area farmers. Local food is a mission of the conference, and helping farmers capture more of the food expenditure of their geographic area is a goal.
 
High school and college students interested in attending are eligible for a discounted registration fee.
 
Registration begins Friday at 8 a.m., with in-depth, discussion-based workshops offered. Registrants will pick one track and stick with it all day Friday. The four topics on Friday are Farm to school; Good handling and good agricultural practices; Farmers markets; and Direct marketing.
The fun continues Saturday, when registrants will be able to choose from 30 session options. The Saturday classes offered include: Farm to School, Homesteading 101, Tree Fruit, Value-adding, Farm Transition, Dairy Regulations, Strawberries, Branding your Farm, Agri-Tourism, Vegetable Storage, Potato Production and Storage, Social Styles Marketing, Working with your Red Meat Processor, Farm Taxation and Crop Insurance, Production Cost Analysis: Market Garden and High Tunnel, Community Aspects of Local Food, Season Extension and Fall Crops, Forest Non-Timber/Mushrooms, Homegrown, Value-Adding Sausage and Red Meats, Business Planning and Cash Flow. Rules and Regulations for Restaurants.
 
Registration is available by calling 304-293-2565 or online