Details for the 2018 conference are being planned.  If you’re considering joining us, take a look at the 2017 schedule below to get an idea of the types of sessions we offer and check back soon for updates.

Friday, April 28

Registration (8–9 a.m.)

Speakers (9–9:45 a.m.)

Speakers from the West Virginia Conservation Agency (WVCA) and National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) will welcome attendees on the first day of the fourth annual Urban Ag Conference.

Session 1 (10–10:50 a.m.)

Post-Harvest Crash Course: What you Need to Know Right Now
Robin Turner, West Virginia State University (WVSU) Extension Service
From pre-cooling to packaging, learn how to handle your urban harvest.

Sugar Bottom Farm
Eric Grandon, Sugar Bottom Farm
Learn about veteran Eric Grandon’s Sugar Bottom Farm.

USDA Farm Service Agency: Programs and Farm Loans and Participant Testimonials
Josh Lewis, USDA Farm Service Agency
Learn about what the Farm Service Agency can provide for you and hear directly from those who have successfully utilized their programs.

Farm to Tablet: How to Cultivate a Social Media Plan That Works for You
Liz Turner, MESH Design and Development
The digital world can be an intimidating place; from preparing compelling content to balancing your time at home and at work. Trust us, we get it! That’s why we’re going to break it down, one element at a time. We’ll walk through ways to develop best practices for small businesses using various forms of social media to understand how they can be a fundamental tool for your business’s growth. You’ll walk away feeling comfortable and confident that what you share online will allow your business to flourish.

Chicks in the City
Various Presenters
Urban farmers will be on hand to discuss the benefits of raising one’s own chickens. Topics will include nutrition, housing, care, first aid, supplies, predators, egg sales, cartons, marketing and city regulations.

Sap in the City, Episode 2
Mike Rechlin, WV Maple Syrup Producers Association
This session will focus on how your trees prepare for bud break and the growing season ahead. We’ll reach back in time to see how sugar sap flow during the maple syrup season helped get trees ready for spring and explore what’s happening right now with the explosion of new arboreal life in your backyard.

Session 2 (11–11:50 a.m.)

Theme Gardens and Youth Spaces
Tabitha Surface & Valerie Bandell, WVSU Extension Service
Creating inviting environments for young farmers to learn and engage in agriculture.

Ag on a Small Scale: How to Get More Bang for Your Buck
Terry Hudson, Hudson Farms
Learn about Terry Hudson’s Hudson Farms.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service: Programs & Participant Testimonials
Julie Stutler, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Learn about what NRCS can provide  for you and hear directly from those who have successfully utilized their programs.

Chad Bishop, Hatfield & McCoy Moonshine
Learn about the history, art and process of distilling moonshine, as well and where the craft is today.

Don’t BEE a Hater, Save the Pollinator! PART 1
Wade Stiltner, WVDA Apiarist, Kanawha Valley Beekeepers, Capitol Conservation District
Instructor and experienced apiarist Wade Stiltner hosts a beekeeping 101 workshop for those interested in beginning beekeeping. Topics include getting started in beekeeping, the honey bee’s world, hives and accessories.

Introduction to Specialty Crops
Cindy Martel, WVDA
This session will allow participants to learn more about specialty crops and how they impact agriculture in West Virginia, as well as the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

Lunch (12–1 p.m.)  — Provided by Lem’s Meat Varnish


Session 3 (1–1:50 p.m.)

Vacant Lots to Urban Farms
Christal Perry, Huntington’s Urban Renewal Authority and Valerie Bandell, WVSU Extension Service
What you need to know to transform a vacant urban lot into a thriving micro farm.

Farming is a Lifestyle, Not a Hobby
Steph Pauley, Pauley’s Rowdy Acres and Tinia Creamer, Lucas Farm

The Programs of USDA Rural Development
Lisa Sharp & Jesse Gandee, Rural Development
Learn about the many programs of Rural Development including home loans, business and community programs, the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and the Value-Added Producers Grant (VAPG).

Dr. Wilson Ward, Fisher Ridge Winery

Better sourcing of product and supplies. Simple tests to avoid disaster. Thinking of an overview of what you are trying to accomplish. Finish with generous Q&A time.

Don’t BEE a Hater, Save the Pollinator! PART 2
Wade Stiltner, WVDA Apiarist, Kanawha Valley Beekeepers, Capitol Conservation District
Management for honey production and pollination. Harvest of honey, processing and post-harvest. Producing honey for market as a WV Specialty Crop. (Free pollinator flower seeds with this class.)

Mushroom Production
Brad Cochran, WVSU Extension Service
Participants will learn the basics of producing shiitake and oyster mushrooms in West Virginia.

Session 4 (2–2:50 p.m.)

Raised Bed Gardening
John David Johnson, WVU Extension Service
Learn about bed construction and proper soils.

Roadside Farms
Joel McKinney,  Roadside Farms
Learn about veteran Joel McKinney’s Roadside Farms.

West Virginia Conservation Agency & Capitol Conservation District: Programs and Special Projects
Aimee Figgatt & Russell Young, WVCA
How to make the most of your local Conservation District and agricultural cost share programs.

Demystifying Aged Cheese: A fresh approach to mature curds
Annette G. Ericksen, WVSU Extension Service
Journey through the step-by-step process of making a hard (aged) cheese from beginning to end using simple tools and techniques. A discussion of the myriad of cheeses that come from simple alterations in the use of bacteria, processing and aging methods will be presented.

On Second Thought, I Might Be More Crazy Than My Goat
Tinia Creamer, Lucas Farm
“Hey neighbor, your goats are on my porch again!” This fun and interactive workshop will cover management of the world’s most renowned escape artists. Topics include proper nutrition, hoof care and worming, fencing, play time, and using goats for biological brush control.

Lavender Production
Shelley Keeney, R&R Products, LLC
You can grow lavender in West Virginia! Learn how to grow this ancient herb of love. We will discuss soil requirements, propagation, pruning, harvesting and the many uses of lavender. We’ll also learn about which varieties of lavender are hardy for our planting zone. Lastly, we will discuss the culinary side of lavender and sample some delicious lavender-infused teas and sweets.

Session 5 (3–3:50 p.m.)

Water for the Urban Garden
John Bombadarie, WVSU Extension Service
Irrigation and rain barrels.

Rain Barrels
Ben Marcum, NRCS
During this hands-on workshop, you will learn not only the benefits of having a rain barrel but how to fully install and utilize one.

Rob Absten, home brewer, K.R.A.Z.E. founder & Charles Bockway, Brilliant Stream
An experienced homebrewer, Absten was the founder of K.R.A.Z.E., the Charleston-area’s homebrewing/beer-enthusiast group.  He has been a leading advocate in the West Virginia brewery scene for a number of years, especially active in the legislative arena. He drafted the bill that eventually became our growler law, which allows restaurants and retailers to sell draft beer to-go in jugs.

Raised Bed Kitchen Gardens
Aimee Figgatt, CCD
Kitchen gardens provide fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. This workshop will provide information you need to know to construct your own kitchen garden. From planning to hands-on use of the tools and materials. Each attendee is provided seeds and plans for their home kitchen gardens.

Hops Production
Brad Cochran, WVSU Extension Service
Participants will learn the basics of hops production in West Virginia.

Session 6 (4–4:40 p.m.)

Friars to Fryers
Annette Ericksen, WVSU Extension Service
Backyard rabbits are an excellent resource for the urban farmer. Cooks like chicken, but does not taste like chicken. Learn how to get started, tips on breeding, raising and processing your buns. Oh and yes, delectable dishes.

So You Think You Want to be a Farmer
Military Round Table

Streambank Stabilization
Judith Lyons, WVCA
Living along a creek, stream or riverbank makes for a beautiful view outside your windows. Recent flooding has given us a reminder of just how powerful Mother Nature and water can really be. In this workshop, Judith Lyons from the West Virginia Conservation Agency will take participants on a walk along the stream banks of the Poca River at Camp Virgil Tate to discuss keeping your soils in place with stream bank stabilization projects, repairing erosion issues, proper removal of blockages, who to call in the event of an emergency, and what services are offered by WVCA to landowners along these waterways.

State of the Craft Beverage Industry
Round table discussion with various participants

John Bombadarie, WVSU Extension Service & Dayan Perera, Aquaculture Research Assoc./Technician, WVSU Research

Post-Harvest Handling
Robin Turner, WVSU Extension Service

Local Foods Dinner (5 p.m.)  —  Dinner provided by Bridge Road Bistro


Saturday, April 29

Registration (8–9 a.m.)


Speakers (9–9:45 a.m.)

Speakers from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and West Virginia National Guard will welcome attendees to the second day of the fourth annual Urban Ag Conference. The Keynote speaker will also address the attendees.

Session 7 (10–10:50 a.m.)

Urban Backyard Gardening
Melissa Stewart, WVSU Extension Service
How to maximize your garden space in your own backyard using unique production systems.

Refresh Appalachia
Ben Gilmer & Savannah Lyons, Refresh Appalachia
Learn about what Refresh Appalachia has to offer veterans in agriculture in your community.

WV AgrAbility: Programs & Projects
Inetta Fluharty, WVSU Extension Service

Home Cider Making 101: An apple a day…
Matt Christianson, home cider maker
In this session, you will learn the ins and outs of small batch hard cider making in your own home. Learn about apple varieties, cider styles and more!

Kent Gilkerson, Sunset Berry Farm
This hands-on workshop will cover proper planting, renovation and transplanting practices, as well as pricing from personal experience.

Getting a Handle on your 4 P’s in Marketing
Cindy Martel, WVDA & Dee Singh-Knights, WVU Extension Service
Understanding the “Big Picture” of your business is essential to maintaining a viable and profitable agribusiness. Understanding the importance and connection between your 4 P’s (product, place, price and promotion) is critical to your business’ success.

Session 8 (11–11:50 a.m.)

Urban Orchards
Brad Cochran, WVSU Extension Service
Participants can learn the basics of urban orchards from land acquisition to variety selection and all points in between.

Apprenticeship and Farm Incubation Program
Tom McConnell & Tom Snyder, Parchment Valley
Be the boss and/or the owner of your own farm business. This session will present a two- to four-year training and support program to assist participants in becoming full-time specialty crop farmers or farm managers. This training and support opportunity is available on the base incubator training farm in Ripley, WV, or on an independent farmer operation anywhere in the region. Hear the details at this session.

National Agricultural Statistics Service: Small Growers Count Too!
Charmaine Wilson, National Agricultural Statistics Service

Canning and Preserving Your Harvest
Capitol Conservation District/WVU Extension Service
This hands-on workshop will provide information about how to properly and safely use canning equipment to produce and store home canned produce, jams, jellies and salsas.

Growing Hazelnuts
John Kelsey, John Kelsey Farms
Choosing the best varieties and making a successful start with your own hazelnut production.

Top 10 Lessons in Pricing your Product for Profitability
Dee Singh-Knights, WVU Extension Service
For those who want to maintain the small family farm legacy and be good stewards of the land, good financial management is critical and must be factored into your decisions for long-term sustainability. Pricing your products effectively is the first step on the road to good financial management and can make or break your business.

Lunch (12–1 p.m.)  — Provided by Lem’s Meat Varnish


Session 9 (1–1:50 p.m.)

West Side Growing
Dural Miller, Keep Your Faith Corp.
Learn how Keep Your Faith Corp. is providing access to fresh fruits and vegetables on Charleston’s West Side.

Patriot Guardens
Melissa Stewart, WVSU Extension Service & BG HG Gilliam and LT Brittany Evans, West Virginia National Guard
Learn about what Patriot Guardens has to offer veterans in agriculture in your community.

Whole Food Revenue
Edward Gregory, Risk Management Agency

Breadmaking for Beginners (Part 1)
Karen Figgatt
Our two-part workshop series gives you a comprehensive learning experience for enthusiastic home bakers or farm-to-market bakers. Students will be mixing their own dough and learning to knead by hand. Class size will be limited to 15 attendees.

Walter Moore, Herot Hall Farm
Participants will learn the planning process of establishing a productive blueberry patch. From soil pH to selected cultivars for West Virginia to pruning and management, this session will cover all the bases.

Selling Through Farm Stories
Barbara Liedl, WVSU & Dee Singh-Knights, WVU Extension Service
Stories are used as a way to learn about our history, traditions and heritage by passing them from generation to generation. So what does this have to do with agriculture and your business? Well everything, because YOUR STORY SELLS.

Session 10 (2–2:50 p.m.)

The ChalleNGe: Practice What We Preach
Jessie Uphold, Camp Dawson
As a quasi military program operated by the West Virginia National Guard, Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy is expanding career exploration opportunities for Cadets with a focus on agriculture. The program generates savings by producing food for our program consumption and recycles the savings into expanding career exploration activities. Cadets will be providing first hand testimonials regarding the benefits of their agriculture experiences.

Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture
James McCormick, Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture
Learn about what Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture has to offer veterans in agriculture in your community.

A New (and Easier) Day in WV Food Safety: The West Virginia Food Safety Training Team
Dee Singh-Knights, WVU Extension Service and Cindy Martel, WVDA
This session explores why building a culture of food safety within a local food business is a critical step in successfully engaging your buyers and growing your own business and that of your community.

Breadmaking for Beginners (Part 2)
Karen Figgatt
Students from Breadmaking Class 1 will continue their lessons on breadmaking.

Fruit Tree Production
Mira Danilovich, WVU Extension Service

Market Readiness Listening Session
Cindy Martel, WVDA and Dee Singh-Knights, WVU Extension Service
Come share and discuss with us your stories about selling in the market place. We are interested in getting constructive feedback and want to share best practices.

Session 11 (3–3:50 p.m.)

Garden Security
Julie Stutler, NRCS & Aimee Figgatt, WVCA
Deer and other critters are the nemeses of nearly every home gardener in West Virginia. Hey, they like fresh veggies, too! In this workshop, we will take a moment to forget all that Grandpa told us about emptying Grandma’s hairbrush in the garden to ward off deer and learn from NRCS District Conservationist Julie Stutler about long-term fencing solutions that have worked for her cooperators.

Project Welcome Home
Lewis Jett, WVU Extension Service
Learn about what Project Welcome Home has to offer veterans in agriculture in your community.

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary. How Does YOUR Garden Grow?
A round table discussion with experienced gardeners and agriculture specialists about tips, techniques and solutions to soil health, composting, deer fencing, erosion prevention, cover crops, weed block, pest control and trellising. Big yields for small spaces.

Bramble Production
Brad Cochran, WVSU Extension Service
Participants can learn the basics of bramble production both for home consumption and also commercial production, from planting to harvesting and all points in between.

Round Table with Restaurants & Farmers Markets & CSA​
Cindy Martel, WVDA and Dee Singh-Knights, WVU Extension Service
Discussion with vendors and growers discussing market readiness/supply and demand.