Small farms can mean big business. That’s one of the messages of the 10th annual West Virginia Small Farm Conference, Feb. 27 through March 1, at Waterfront Place Hotel and Conference Center in Morgantown.

The conference brings together a number of experts, including West Virginia University Extension agents and experienced farmers, who will offer more than 100 sessions covering everything from livestock and crop production to packaging, marketing and record keeping.

“It’s not enough just to tell farmers about the opportunities that are out there,” said Tom McConnell, WVU Extension Service Small Farm Center program leader. “To make their farms and families more profitable, they need to know how to embrace those opportunities. This conference is all about teaching and networking.”

Pre-conference activities begin on Wednesday, Feb. 26. The West Virginia Department of Agriculture will offer a Good Handling Practices/Good Agricultural Practices (GHP/GAP) course and a Better Process Control School.

The 2014 West Virginia FFA Business Plan competition will also take place on Wednesday.

Thursday, Feb. 27, will feature day-long, intensive sessions ranging from farmers market nutrition voucher training to the business aspects of operating and managing a farm. Some hands-on sessions will be offered as well.

Friday and Saturday will bring a wide variety of hour-long classes.

Thursday evening brings the popular Winter Blues Farmers Market, a free event that is open to the public from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. This producer-only market typically includes such items as locally raised meats, West Virginia smoked trout, eggs, cider, nuts, maple syrup, honey, jams, houseplants, garlic, commercial-kitchen canned goods, winter-stored apples, potatoes and other root crops, hydroponic lettuces, cheese, breads and much more.

There will also be a pay-as-you-go Local Food Dine Around, where visitors can purchase tasty, prepared foods.

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

For more information about the West Virginia Small Farm Conference, contact Tom McConnell at 304-293-2642 or trmcconnell@mail.wvu.edu.

-WVU-

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CONTACT: Cassie Waugh, WVU Extension Service
304.293.8735, Cassie.Waugh@mail.wvu.edu

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