Conference schedule is still being finalized and is subject to change. Sessions will take place in and around the WVSU Wilson University Union, except those noted with an asterisk (*), which will take place at the WVSU Integrated Research and Extension Building, located campus-adjacent at the former WV Rehabilitation Center property (entrance across from GoMart).

NOTE: Some of our sessions have limited capacity and require a separate sign-up, in addition to regular registration. These sessions are Food Preservation & Canning (Friday/Saturday options) and Processing Chickens for the Backyard Producer (Friday). [Saturday’s Mushroom Cultivation is already full.] If you are interested, complete sign-up for these sessions ASAP and don’t forget to do your full registration for the conference as well.

Friday, May 3 (Professional Farming/Agency Focused)

9:00 AM – Registration Opens

9:45 AM – Welcome and Housekeeping

10:00 – 11:00 AM Concurrent Sessions

  • Meat Production/Inspection – Quinton Jones, WV Department of Agriculture (WVDA): All meat and poultry products that are sold for human consumption are required to be inspected during slaughter and processing activities. However, certain exemptions exist that may be useful to the small producers. The workshop will explain the basic requirements for selling meat and poultry in West Virginia as well as an explanation of the available exemptions and associated requirements.
  • Finding the Magic of Mushrooms: How to Give a Shiitake and Make Culture – George Patterson, Hernshaw Farms (short session – 10:00-10:25): Have you ever wanted to grow 10,000 lbs of mushrooms from a single petrie dish? Or make some spawn happen? Now is your chance to learn about a new world. 
  • Farm Insurance 101 – Kate Luckini, The Luckini Agency (short session – 10:25-10:45): This workshop covers the nuts and bolts of what a farm policy covers and when it covers it, whether you need one, and what questions to ask your agent. Also discussed is estate planning, as it can often be more complicated for farmers than for regular homeowners.  
  • Urban Beekeeping 101 – Eric Grandon, Sugar Bottom Farm: Yes, you can raise honeybees in your city. Look into the possibilities of having your own honeybee colonies in your backyard, deck or even rooftop.
  • High Tunnel Field Trip – Julie Stutler, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS): Topics to be covered include NRCS programs and high tunnel basics on construction and season extension.

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Concurrent Sessions

  • Agripreneur Roundtable Discussion led by Dr. Annette Ericksen, West Virginia State University Extension Service (WVSUES): Join three new agripreneurs in a discussion of how they started their business enterprises, what hurdles they had to overcome to be successful, where they found the best support and how they intend to grow their markets. Explore how ideas can become business opportunities. Each will present a summary of their business and then field audience questions.
  • Rain Barrells and Gardens – Tomi Bergstrom and Lee Ann Grogg, WV Department of Environmental Protection: Curious about rain gardens and rain barrels?  In this hands-on workshop, we will discuss and define the primary functions of a rain garden and cover what plants and soils are needed to create it.  We will demonstrate how to safely and cost-effectively construct, install and paint a rain barrel for water collection. Learn how installing one or both green infrastructures can reduce nonpoint source pollution from our waterways. No tools are necessary. A barrel and parts kit will be given away at the end of the workshop to one of the participants to create their very own rain barrel.
  • Backyard Habitat: Ceruluean Warblers – Tiffany Beachy, NRCS: Learn about two imperiled migratory species and what YOU can do to improve their plight! Monarchs and Golden-winged Warblers both depend on dwindling early successional habitat. The Natural Resources Conservation Service facilitates cost-share programs to support you in managing your property for the benefit of wildlife.
  • Food Preservation and Canning – Bonnie Dunn et al., WVSUES* (Participation limited to 15. Requires separate sign-up. REGISTER HERE): Home canning has changed greatly in the 180 years since it was introduced as a way to pre­serve food. Scientists have found ways to produce safer, higher quality products. As a participant in this class you will be able to identify the following: canning equipment, food safety steps, hand washing, two types of canning methods, weights and measures, canning for a family of one/two, and different methods to preserve food.
  • Arbor Day Celebration/Tree Planting – Andy Sheets, WV Dvision of Forestry – Join WVSUES and the WV Division of Forestry for a celebration of Arbor Day and WVSU’s designation as a Tree Campus USA from the National Arbor Day Foundation.

12:00 PM LUNCH ON YOUR OWN (Onsite and Offsite Options Available)12:30-1:00 Optional Lunch and Learn session with the WV Department of Agriculture

1:00 PM to 2:00 PM Concurrent Sessions

  • Let’s Talk Certified Organic – Julie Schaer, The Potager: Chat with organic farmer Julie Schaer, the “Potager.” An overview of what it means to be Certified Organic with Q&A from the audience.
  • Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers Program Highlights – Dina Hornbaker and Kristie Martin, WVSUES (short session – 1:00-1:25):WVSU Extension Service will highlight current activities and opportunities available to the public through its partnership with local non-profits and the support of the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Outreach. These include training in urban agricultural techniques, sustainability, agribusiness planning and practices, as well as area revitalization efforts and public service volunteer opportunities.
  • Rural Development – Roger Waugh (short session – 1:25-1:45)
  • Planting a Home Orchard – Bruce Murphy, WVDA: This workshop entails  site selection, how to plant fruit trees, where to plant and what do you want from your orchard.
  • WVSU Healthy Grandfamilies Program Overview – Bonnie Dunn, WVSUES: West Virginia ranks second in the nation for the prevalence of grandparents raising their grandchildren. To meet the special needs of this family dynamic, WVSU launched the Healthy Grandfamilies program to provide free information and resources to grandfamilies in the state. The session will discuss the program’s format and history to date, as well as a forthcoming statewide expansion.
  • Processing Chickens for the Backyard Producer – Annette Ericksen, WVSUES* (Participation limited to 18. Requires separate sign-up. REGISTER HERE.): Processing and marketing your backyard flock, either through egg sales and/or meat sales can provide additional income for the small producer. Learn about methods, labeling and presentation of your product for local sales.

2:00 PM to 3:00 PM Concurrent Sessions

  • Climate Impacts Roundtable Discussion led by Kristie Martin, WVSUES: No one knows the impacts of changing weather patterns on the land better than the people who farm it themselves. WVSU Extension Service invites any interested local agricultural producers to this roundtable to share their observations, challenges and successes in adapting to the climate conditions affecting their operations. This is an opportunity for farmers to voice concerns, ask questions, and propose solutions with other area farmers.
  • The Economic Cost of Disease in Livestock – James Maxwell, DVM, WVDA: Animal Health Division’s main mission is to prevent, control, eradicate and respond to state-reportable and foreign animal diseases. There are federal and state regulations animal producers need to be aware of as some rules can impact animal movement (import or export). There can also be testing requirements to ensure absence of disease prior to movements. This workshop is intended to explain the basic requirements and highlight economic consequences to animal industries that can result from major animal disease outbreaks.
  • Food Safety 101: Making $ and Sense of Food Safety Planning – Dee Singh Knights, West Virginia University Extension Service (WVUES) : In this session, we will understand the importance of food safety planning to meet buyer and consumer expectations, and protect our farm assets.
  • Small Tractors for the Garden – William Crede, Crede Implement: Crede Implement will deliver discussion and demonstration of small tractors and implements suitable for small farms and high tunnel production. 
  • High Tunnel Field Trip – Julie Stutler, NRCS: Topics to be covered include NRCS programs and high tunnel basics on construction and season extension.

3:00 PM to 4:00 PM Concurrent Sessions

  • Indoor Shrimp Production – Leo Fleckenstein, Kentucky State University: Global fisheries stocks are often at or over the limit for sustainable harvest, and the market for seafood is expanding quickly. Shrimp are the most popular seafood item in the United States and over 85% of the shrimp consumed in the U.S. is imported. Due to a nationwide interest in local, sustainable products, farmers have an opportunity to break into the seafood market. Marine shrimp are fast growing, have been selectively bred over several decades, and perform well in indoor recirculating systems. Indoor shrimp farming allows shrimp producers to be located in areas away from the coast and offer a fresh, never-frozen seafood product at premium prices. Shrimp production systems located indoors are also more easily controlled and have consistent conditions that allow producers to predict harvest weights before going to market. Kentucky State University is working on refining these shrimp production systems to reduce costs, reduce waste production, and increase shrimp production. This presentation will cover some of KSU’s research and also discuss different aspects of shrimp production including system types and system design, filtration types, system location, shrimp growth cycles, production rates, system management, water quality, waste remediation, and marketing.
  • Introduction to Sustainable Poultry – Jim Adkins, Sustainable Poultry Network: What makes a flock of poultry sustainable? What is Standard-bred Poultry?  If you purchase chicks from a hatchery are they true to the breed? Why does every hatchery sell Rhode Island Reds, and they all look different? Why do the Cornish Cross meat chickens have so many problems? Raising standard poultry is the only true way to improve the sustainability of quality local food while preserving the strength of Heritage poultry.
  • Introduction to Hydroponics, Nikki Honosky, WVSUES: This workshop is a beginner’s introduction to hydroponic growing and is meant to help participants learn more about hydroponics. The workshop helps provide knowledge about various growing systems, materials used and convenience of use.

Ongoing Activities for Friday

  • Manchin Greenhouse and Ree Creation Boutique
  • Goats and Chickens
  • WVSU Pollinator Project
  • Vendors

Saturday, May 4 (Hobbyist/Home Gardening and Community Resource Focused)

9:00 AM – Registration Opens

9:45 AM – Welcome and Housekeeping

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Concurrent Sessions

  • Youth Mental Health Roundtable: Facing Today’s Challenges with Insight and Compassion led by Tabitha Surface, WVSUES: Join therapists and community educators to discuss the unique challenges our youth are facing, the short and longterm impacts of those challenges, and what resources there are for educators, parents and the community. 
  • Taking a Noble Trade to the Global Market – Melissa Hill, GoJourney: Opportunity: Both rural and urban areas can make progress toward eliminating poverty and achieving zero hunger goals, outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, through inclusive rural transformation. Problem: Inadequate infrastructure leads to a lack of access to markets, jobs, information and training, creating a major barrier to doing business. This workshop will discuss branding, digital footprint, press/media kits, eCommerce in Agriculture, and funding.
  • Creasy Jane’s – Ruby Daniels – Creasy Jane’s operates as an incubator farmer at Sprouting Farms in Talcott, WV., cultivating herbs and vegetables. Creasy Jane’s sells herbal teas, salves, facial scrubs and other products made with the herbs and vegetables grown on the farms.
  • High Tunnel Field Trip – Julie Stutler, NRCS: Topics to be covered include NRCS programs and high tunnel basics on construction and season extension.

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Concurrent Sessions

  • West Virginia in Crisis: On the Intersections of the Opioid Epidemic, Agriculture and Food Insecurity Roundtable Discussion led by Tabitha Surface, WVSUES: Join representatives from Manna Meal, Cafe Appalachia, Step by Step, Recovery Point, and the University of Charleston’s Pharmacy School for a community discussion; find out more about programs being innovated in our backyard.
  • Anaphylaxis 101 – Tiffany Davis (short session – 11:00-11:25): Anaphylaxis 101 will focus on identifying the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and how to use an epinephrine auto-injector such as EpiPen or Auvi-Q.
  • Food Label Basics – Tiffany Davis (short session – 11:25-11:45): In this session we will not only discuss the parts of a food label but also how to decode the label for nutritional information and food allergens.
  • Snake Remediation and Identification – Jim Fregonara, WV Division of Natural Resources: Throughout history, people have hated snakes mainly based on misinformation and irrational fears. In this workshop, participants will be introduced to several live native WV snakes and learn how fascinating and beneficial they are and the important role they play in a healthy ecosystem. Participants will also learn how to distinguish between WV’s venomous and nonvenomous snakes. Hopefully, participants will walk away with a better understanding and appreciation of these beneficial and fascinating creatures.
  • Arbor Day Celebration/Tree Planting – Andy Sheetz, WV Forest Service: Join WVSUES and the WV Division of Forestry for a celebration of Arbor Day and WVSU’s designation as a Tree Campus USA from the National Arbor Day Foundation.
  • WVSU Native Bee Program Overview – Kristie Martin, WVSUES: Participate in a discussion of how you can contribute to the conservation of West Virginia’s native pollinators and extend your garden potential through habitat creation. Will include information on bee houses, species identification and benefits of supporting our native pollinators.
  • Food Preservation and Canning – Bonnie Dunn et al., WVSUES* (Participation Limited to 15. Requires separate sign-up. REGISTER HERE.): Home canning has changed greatly in the 180 years since it was introduced as a way to pre­serve food. Scientists have found ways to produce safer, higher quality products. As a participant in this class you will be able to identify the following: canning equipment, food safety steps, hand washing, two types of canning methods, weights and measures, canning for a family of one/two, and different methods to preserve food.

12:00 PM LUNCH ON YOUR OWN (Onsite and Offsite Options Available) 12:00-12:30 Optional Presentation from Buffalo High School FFA Chapter

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Concurrent Sessions

  • Choosing the Breed of Chickens for Your Backyard – Jim Adkins, Sustainable Poultry Network: There are so many different kinds of chickens! Which one is best for me and for the backyard where we live? Which breed is best for my climate? What about the personalities of different breeds? Which breed will be best for my children? What about egg production and meat? These are all the questions that we will answer in this seminar.
  • Welding Safety – Lee Wright and Tygart Valley Middle/High School (30 minute short session – 1:00-1:25): Presentation on the different personal protection devices used in agricultural welding in the farm ag shop.
  • Pollen8’s Cafe Appalachia – Cheryl Laws, Pollen8 (short session – 1:25-1:45): Cheryl Laws will discuss Café Appalachia, a restaurant and training program of Pollen8 helping former drug addicts with families find sustainability along their path towards recovery.
  • School Gardens from A to Z – Caroline Copenhaver and Emily Moore, WVSUES: From basics to volunteer management, this workshop provides you with the knowledge and resources you need to start a school garden or take your existing program to the next level.
  • West Virginia Vintage Apples – Bruce Murphy, WVDA: Learn about the History of WV apples, apple varieties, and why we should be holding on to our heritage apples. Also during this workshop you will learn how to find and care for vintage apple trees.

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Concurrent Sessions

  • Meat Production and Inspection – Quinton Jones, WVDA: All meat and poultry products that are sold for human consumption are required to be inspected during slaughter and processing activities. However, certain exemptions exist that may be useful to the small producers. The workshop will explain the basic requirements for selling meat and poultry in West Virginia.
  • KISRA/Refresh Appalachia – Joey Aloi (short session – 2:00-2:25): West Virginia’s two largest cities are home to two agriculture-based social enterprises and farmer training programs. Paradise Farms is a project of KISRA in Dunbar, right outside Charleston, and Refresh Appalachia is a project of Coalfield Development with locations in Wayne, Lincoln, and Mingo counties. Both enterprises operate farmer-training programs and work with beginning farmers from underserved communities. Both enterprises are also members of the Turnrow Appalachian Farm Collective. In this capacity, they participate in region-wide local foods aggregation and distribution efforts that help connect locally grown and processed foods to local restaurants, institutions and individual consumers. In this session, Joey Aloi from Paradise Farms and Adam Hudson of Refresh Appalachia will describe their programs, their work together, and how working with Turnrow helps with farmer education.
  • Mental Health/First Aid – Tabitha Surface, WVSUES (short short session – 2:25-2:50) This short session will explain what Mental Health First Aid is and why everyone who interacts with youth–from parents to educators—need this certification. Find out how you can get trained and the kind of impacts the program has had around the world. 
  • Small Tractors for the Garden – William Crede, Crede Implement: Crede Implement will deliver discussion and demonstration of small tractors and implements suitable for small farms and high tunnel production. 
  • High Tunnel Field Trip – Julie Stutler, NRCS: Topics to be covered include NRCS programs and high tunnel basics on construction and season extension.

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM Concurrent Sessions

  • Emergency Preparedness for Farm and Family – Inetta Fluharty, WV AgrAbility: Protecting yourself, family and farm during an emergency involves a number of considerations. Planning ahead can help to minimize the impact and speed of the recovery process. Learn what you can do to prepare for an emergency and the step by step actions you can take beforehand to protect yourself, your loved ones and your farm.
  • Mushroom Cultivation – Dina Hornbaker, WVSUES [Participation limited to 20. Workshop is FULL]: This workshop will provide a great hands-on learning opportunity for anyone from backyard hobbyists to entrepreneurs looking to grow and harvest their own mushrooms. Attendees will receive instruction on mushroom inoculation on logs, and will receive a log to take home.
  • Pollinator Gardens – Shelley Whittington and Kaysha Jackson, WVSUES: Hands-on fun in this workshop, where you’ll learn about creating pollinator friendly gardens and butterfly way stations. 

Ongoing Activities for Saturday

  • FFA Speech Competition*
  • Goats and Chickens
  • Soil Tunnel Trailer Exhibit
  • WVSUES Pollinator Program
  • Make-and-Take Bee Houses
  • Poetry and Literature Corner Open Mic Readings: Join us for a look at our community through art. Buy books or art from local creators or take a turn at the open mic.  You definitely don’t want to miss our featured poet Ace Boggess, author of several books of poetry including his most recent I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So, when he reads at 1:00 p.m.
  • Vendors
  • Health Rite Blood Glucose and Blood Pressure Screenings — 12:00 to 1:00

*Session takes place at the WVSU Integrated Research and Extension Building, located a the former WV Rehabilitation Center property adjacent to campus. (Entrance located across from GoMart.)