WV Urban Agriculture Conference caters to all levels of growers

Courtesy photo
Attendees register for the 2016 Urban Agriculture Conference.
Courtesy photo
The 2017 urban Agriculture Conference will be held at Camp Virgil Tate. Chicken Stu is the ‘spokes chicken’ for the event.

The West Virginia Urban Agriculture Conference is returning this month, offering sessions on everything from homesteading, urban growing, marketing, livestock and small fruit production to involving veterans in agriculture.

The fourth annual conference will be held April 28 and 29 at Camp Virgil Tate, in Charleston.

Matt Browning, marketing director for the conference, said the event will offer something for everyone — from the backyard beginner garden to more experienced farmers.

The event started four years ago, after organizers started noticing an upswing of those interested in urban farming and agriculture, he said.

“People all over the country and the state are more interested in knowing where their food comes from and are more interested in growing their own food,” Browning said. “A lot of people think you have to live on a traditional farm to do that.”

Workshops throughout the conference will include sessions on canning, bread-making, growing hops, raising chickens, preserving bees and urban orchards.

In addition to workshops, the event includes a local foods dinner, vendor exhibits and a keynote presentation by Morris Henderson of the 31st Street Baptist Church, in Richmond, Virginia. A farmers market and garden launched by the church earned a designation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the nation’s first urban farm.

New to this year’s conference is a track dedicated to agricultural opportunities for veterans. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 20 percent of young veterans are unemployed, and 45 percent of armed service members are from rural America.

Browning said nationwide veterans are getting involved in agriculture, and the conference hopes to target those groups in the area this year with special sessions on veterans in agriculture.

Registration for the full conference is $80. One-day registration is $45. A full schedule and registration is available at urbanagwv.com.

The conference is hosted by the Capitol Conservation District, the West Virginia State University Extension Service, West Virginia University Extension Service, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Conservation Service, and Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.

Camp Virgil Tate is located at 1400 Camp Virgil Tate Road, near Sissonville and Cross Lanes.

Reach Carlee Lammers at carlee.lammers@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1230 or follow @CarleeLammers on Twitter.

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