Thursday, April 12

Pre-Conference Sessions. These sessions will be offered at an additional cost to conference registration and are all-day sessions (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Dr. A’s Cheese Camp
Annette Ericksen, West Virginia State University (WVSU) Extension Service
Learn how to make cheese — from goat (yes a real goat) to table in several easy steps. This is a demonstration based workshop that will cover feta, chevre, and any other soft cheese that tickles our fancy (if the cards are right, we may even be able to have a mold ripened version going). Bring your questions and leave having been up close and personal with Arietty as we delve into curds and whey!

Backyard Chickens
Aimee Figgatt, Capitol Conservation District (CCD)
For anyone who has dreamed of walking out to your own chicken coop and collecting fresh eggs for breakfast, this course will guide you through starting up your own flock of laying chickens. During the Backyard Chickens workshop participants will learn the basics of keeping chickens including breeds and behavior, housing, nutrition and care techniques.

Wade Stiltner, WV Department of Agriculture (WVDA) Apiarist, Kanawha Valley Beekeepers, CCD
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. 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.)


Friday, April 13

Registration (7:30–8:30 a.m.)

Welcome (8:30–9 a.m.)

Housekeeping and welcome remarks


Session 1 (9–10:15 a.m.)

Learn From My Mistakes
Julie Schaer, The Potager
In this session, Julie will be going through all of things she got wrong over the years growing on her family farm.

Soil Health
Aron Sattler, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)
Healthy soil gives us clean air and water, bountiful crops and forests, productive grazing lands, diverse wildlife, and beautiful landscapes.  This course will guide you through understanding soil health so that the soil in your back yard or garden functions optimally now and is not degraded for future use.

Explore Food Security and Value-Added Products in Your Backyard and Beyond! (Part 1)
Rebecca Wood, Hopewood Holistic Health
We will cover the history and fundamentals of permaculture: urban, rural, and your backyard. Then we will take off into the woods and pastures to conduct an assessment of local resources. Includes discussions on value-added products, herbals and more.

WV Grown Roundtable
Moderated by Buddy Davidson, WVDA
Provide your ideas to the West Virginia Department of Agriculture in this listening session on how it should revamp and operate its “WV Grown” branding program for produce growers and value-added manufacturers.


Session 2 (10:30–11:45 a.m.)

Growing Specialty Crops in West Virginia
This workshop will focus on conservation, production and marketing practices for specialty crop growers, and will provide an excellent opportunity for beginning growers to connect with and learn from experienced growers.

Basic Backyard Greenhouse for the Beginner
Rebecca Proudfoot-McCoy
Learn how to start plants from seed and understand basic methods.

Potted Orchard
Mira Bulatovic-Danilovich, West Virginia University (WVU) Extension Service
Learn how grow and care for fruit trees in very small places. By choosing appropriate rootstock you can control the size of a tree and have it grow in pots on your patio.

Explore Food Security and Value-Added Products in Your Backyard and Beyond! Part 2
Rebecca Wood, Hopewood Holistic Health
We will cover the history and fundamentals of permaculture: urban, rural, and your backyard. Then we will take off into the woods and pastures to conduct an assessment of local resources. Includes discussions on value-added products, herbals and more.


Lunch (12–1 p.m.)  

Session 3 (1:15–2:30 p.m.)

Waste Area Plants and the Legacy of Domestication
Lawrence Greene, founder of Ugata
We will discuss the relationship between domesticated plants and their wild cousins, urban farming in the Rust Belt and permaculture’s role in community renewal.

Service Provider Roundtable
Moderated by Julie Stutler, NRCS
Local representatives from multiple USDA agencies will lead a roundtable discussion on how USDA can assist you.

Home Butchering
Anita Cobb, Safari Meats
Basic butchering skills for the homesteader. Proper tools and their use, handling of the carcass and packaging. We will butcher a lamb for demonstration.

Judith Lyons, WV Conservation Agency

Living along a creek, stream or river bank 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.


Session 4 (2:45–4 p.m.)

Growing a Small Business
Caleb Knight, Flaherty Sensabaugh Bonasso PLLC
Picking a business type and getting started, including who to call and how to get help, as well as other legal considerations, such as obtaining business licenses, hiring/firing employees, obtaining financing, protecting intellectual property, and other useful topics.

Department of Environmental Protection/Capitol Conservation District
Not sure what to do with your kitchen, garden and yard scraps? Would you like natural, homemade compost for your lawns and gardens in the spring? Then expand your recycling efforts to include kitchen scraps and yard debris by signing up for a Backyard Composting Workshop and turn your yard waste and food scraps into a valuable resource for your garden.

Season Extension and High Tunnels
John David Johnson, WVU Extension Service
This session will cover season extension for your home garden or small-scale production site. From high tunnels to low tunnels and other techniques for extending your growing season, the basics and how-to’s will be the focus.

Nature Walk, Plant and Tree Identification
Tyler Putzulu, WV Division of Forestry & NRCS
Nature walks are a great to unwind and discover the world around you.  Join us for this walk through the woods of Camp Virgil Tate and learn more about the trees and plants that reside in our West Virginia hills.


Keynote and Movie Screening (4:15 p.m.) 

Join us as Romney, WV native and marine veteran, Calvin Riggleman, introduces the documentary, “Farmers for America,” in which he is featured. The film is narrated by Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs,” and highlights young farmers across the U.S. and the obstacles they face as the average age of today’s farmers is on the rise. After the screening, Mr. Riggleman will be available for a Q&A session.


Saturday, April 14

Registration (7:30–8:30 a.m.)

Welcome (8:30–9 a.m.)

Housekeeping and welcome remarks


Session 5 (9–10:15 a.m.)

Mike Easter, WVSU Extension
Vermiculture is the process of garden composting using worms. This session will be covering the benefits of vermicomposting and vermiculture, from plant health to soil building.

Rob Absten, founder of K.R.A.Z.E.
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.

Setting Up a Small Business
Dee Singh-Knights, WVU Extension Service
Have an idea for a business, but have no idea how to turn your dream into a reality?  Have you started down the path of small business ownership only to find out there was so much that you didn’t know so you stopped? Are you an existing business looking to improve in some areas?  Let’s help you explore some of the main ingredients in starting or growing a successful and profitable agriculture business.

Irrigation for the Home Garden
John Bombardiere, Rutgers University
Irrigation and rain barrels.


Session 6 (10:30–11:45 a.m.)

Agriculture Adventures with ChalleNGe
Jessie Uphold, WV ChalleNGe Academy
As a quasi-military program operated by the West Virginia National Guard, Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy is expanding career exploration opportunities and life skills through agriculture. This will be a discussion of our farm to table production and cadet involvement. Cadets will also provide first-hand accounts of their experiences.

Home Food Preservation
Brenda Porter, WVU Extension Service

Market Readiness
Dee Singh-Knights, WVU Extension Service, Cindy Martel, WVDA, and Barbara Liedl, WVSU
Like other forms of agricultural activities, direct marketing comes with its own set of marketing considerations, and legal and liability concerns. This session is for beginning and existing producers and processors interested in selling products to restaurants, grocers/ wholesalers/retailers, schools and other institutions. We will discuss marketing, food safety and legal liability issues to improve sales relationships and get you up to speed with the latest resources and regulations. This session is in no way an exhaustive workshop to all potential marketing and legal problems direct market farmers might encounter. However, it is at least a good starting point for those interested in breaking into the industry.

Raised Bed Gardens
Aimee Figgatt, CCD
Learn the construction, management and benefits of raised bed vegetable and herb gardens.


Lunch (12–1 p.m.)  

Session 7 (1:15–2:30 p.m.)

Beekeeping (Part 1)
Steve May, CCD, Kanawha County Beekeepers

Backyard Hydroponic Production
Melissa Stewart, West Virginia National Guard
Learn the basics of hydroponics and how you can use this technology in your own backyard as a unique production system.

Logos, Photos and Infographics: DIY Visual Communications
Dee Singh-Knights, WVU Extension Service and Barbara Liedl, WVSU
Learn how add value to your farm product and improve your revenue by simply telling your farm story. Participants will learn easy ways to use computers, the internet, and easy software to highlight their farm story and draw customers to their farm businesses.

To Eat or Not to Eat: Nutrition and Allergies in the Kids’ Garden
Jessica Pollitt-Hudson, WVU Extension Service and Kimberly Earl, WV Children’s Allergy Alliance
In this hands-on session, we will explore topics related to garden experiences and taste tests with kids including: food safety practices, creating positive food experiences, and allergy awareness.


Session 8 (2:45–4 p.m.)

Beekeeping (Part 2)
Steve May, CCD, Kanawha County Beekeepers

Growing Lavender in West Virginia
Shelly Keeney
This workshop will focus on general guidelines for successfully growing lavender in our plant zone (6). Lavender is native to the Mediterranean and therefore can be a challenge to grow in our area. In general, this lovely herb prefers dry, sunny climates and well drained soil. It detests wet roots. High and dry is preferred, but it can adapt. Students will learn about the many varieties of lavender, soil preparation, watering requirements, seed/propagation, recommended varieties, harvesting, pruning, aromatherapy use, and culinary use. We will have some tasty, fragrant lavender treats to sample as well.

Food Safety on the Farm: What Does GAP and FSMA Have to Do With Me?
Dee Singh-Knights, WVU Extension Service and Barbara Liedl, WVSU
Food Safety is serious business, and new regulation is going to be a game changer in terms of how we do business, or more importantly, how customers perceive we should be doing business when it comes to food production in West Virginia. This session will help you understand what you should be doing and why, and where to get the resources you need.

Beyond the Basics: School Gardens from Start to Harvest
Tabitha Surface, Shelley Whittington and Emily Moore, WVSU Extension
School gardens are not one size fits all. From strawberry bags to production level growing, there is something that works for everyone. Join our session for information on school garden design, planning, funding and more.