West Virginians spent $7.1 billion on food last year, but farmers in the state only see about 19 cents from each of those dollars, according to the West Virginia University Small Farm Center.

The 2010 WVU Small Farm Conference can help farmers learn to gain a “market share” of the industry and increase their individual “farmer share” of each crop they produce.

The conference, which kicks off with an event on the evening of Monday, March 1, at Lakeview Resort, features lectures from industry experts in topic areas designed for beginning farming, energy and alternative energy, agri-tourism, and fruit, vegetable and animal production.

“There are roughly 23,500 farmers in this state,” Tom McConnell, WVU Small Farm Center director, said. “We want to offer them with the training and tools they need to compete in their local market as opposed to supplying commodities to the global food market.”

The conference theme, “It’s All About the Food,” is a statement taken to heart by the event organizers. All meals and snacks served will be made at local farms and prepared by chefs at Lakeview.

“We practice what we preach,” McConnell said. “It’s not difficult to make healthy, tasty meals from food grown in your community, but we have to do a little extra planning and sometimes it is just as simple as thinking about it. The local food serves as a very important lesson.”

Attendees and community members are invited to attend the 2010 Winter Blues Farmers Market from 4 to 7 p.m. at Lakeview. The market, organized by the West Virginia Famers Market Association, grossed approximately $ 7,500 last year.

The program includes programs in several other important disciplines including beginning farmers, livestock, value adding, agri-tourism, food security, and farmers market management.

The cost for attending three days of the conference is $150. This fee includes lunch and two snack breaks. Additional registration is required for the Local Foods Banquet.

Single day registration fees are $50 per day. Scholarships are available on a limited basis for those who qualify.

Attendees and community members can also register just for the Local Foods Banquet on Wednesday night. The cost for the banquet is $25 per person.

For more information on registration, contact Becky Casteel at 304-293-2565, or e-mail becky.casteel@mail.wvu.edu.

For more information on the 2010 W.Va. Small Farm Conference, visit www.ext.wvu.edu.


CONTACT: Ann Bailey Berry
voice: 304.293.5691
cell: 304.216.3938
fax: 304.293.7163
email: ann.berry@mail.wvu.edu