Farmers, food enthusiasts and community members from three states will meet in Huntington next week to exchange ideas on how to combine efforts to tap into the $1.2 billion food industry of the tri-state region.

This is the second year for the Tri-State Farm & Food Conference, which takes place on Friday, Nov. 4 and Saturday, Nov. 5 at the New Baptist Church on 28th Street in Huntington.

Farmers, agricultural enthusiasts and community members from Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia will spend two days at hands-on workshops, learning to connect with other farmers, chefs, processors and consumers through new ideas and pathways.

West Virginia University Extension Service agents and specialists, along with officials from the Department of Agriculture, and agricultural entrepreneurs will speak on a variety of topics affecting the region’s food sources.

Friday’s pre-conference schedule includes workshop tracks in poultry production, high tunnels—unheated greenhouses that can help market gardeners extend their growing season—and youth agricultural entrepreneurship. On Saturday, individual classes cover 40 agriculture topics, such as fruit and vegetables, value adding, food security, animal care/production, economic development and farm to institution.

“People are searching for practical, necessary, and trusted information on issues that are crucial to the region’s estimated 4,200 farmers,” Tom McConnell, WVU Extension Small Farm Center program leader, said. “This conference provides a platform to build connections, share resources, and advance the education of the challenges and opportunities that exist in the tri-state area.”

On Friday, youth at the conference will hear from their peers on topics like goat milk soap production and hog breeding. One young entrepreneur will report on his experiences selling eggs to the Mason County school system.

According to McConnell, the participation of youth in the industry will help shape the future of agriculture in the state. Those attending the conference will be supplied with the resources and encouragement to learn more about the opportunities farming provides.

“If a child is told his entire life that he or she cannot make any money farming, then they won’t have enthusiasm to make it work,” McConnell said. “Recently, kids have gone against the grain and been successful in farming and we want other youths to see this and be inspired.”

Anyone may register for the event. The registration fee is $50 for two-day registration. An option to register for individual days is also available. The cost is $20 for Friday and $35 for Saturday.

Breakfast, lunch and break snacks are provided and sourced from local tri-state farmers. Local meals are prepared by the Mountwest Community and Technical College Culinary Institute.

The event is a co-sponsored educational opportunity brought to the region’s farmers by the WVU Extension Service Small Farm Center, Unlimited Future, Ebenezer Medical Outreach, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Kentucky State University, and Ohio State University.

For a complete agenda, additional information, or to register, call WVU Extension Service’s Carrie See at 304-293-2715, or visit www.smallfarmcenter.ext.wvu.edu.


bt/cw 10/25/11

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CONTACT: Ann Bailey Berry
WVU Extension Service Communications
Office: 304-293-5691; Mobile: 304-376-7740