February Updates and Opportunities

Conferences and Events

  • Farm Dreams? February 6th. Candler, NC. Farm Dreams? is an entry level, five-hour, exploratory workshop designed to help people who are seeking practical, common sense information on whether sustainable farming is the next step for them, and how to move forward. This is a great workshop to attend if you are in the exploratory stages of getting started farming. Click here to learn more.


  • Food & Farm Day of Action. February 9th and February 23rd. Charleston, WV. Join the West Virginia Farm and Food Coalition at the West Virginia Capitol to speak with legislators about putting these policy issues on their committee’s agendas. The only way that legislators will know how important these food and farm policies are to creating a more resilient food systems, is if you tell them! Details here.


  • WV Agritourism & Farm-Based Education Initiative hosted by WVU Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources. Five Workshops: Saturdays 8:30-4:30: February 13, March 12, April 9th and May 14th. Lewisburg, WV. Agritourism is a hybrid concept that merges elements of two complex industries—agriculture and tourism – to open up new profitable markets for farm products and services, and provide travel experiences for a growing segment of interested travelers. Agritourism/farm-based education operators can play a catalytic role in strengthening WV’s agriculture and tourism industries. This project will develop and provide technical training, planning tools, supplemental resources and industry contacts to 25 existing and/or new agritourism/farm-based education operators in three counties in WV. More information is available here.


  • Pick TN Conference. February 11-13, 2016. Knoxville, TN. The Pick TN Conference gives Tennessee farmers their best opportunity to explore the latest information and access the best resources for every facet of modern farm life, all in one event. Whether you grow an orchard, flowers, a corn maze, wine grapes, acres of produce, or manage a farmers market, you can leave the Pick TN Conference with a whole new bag of tricks to make 2016 your best year ever. Don’t miss this opportunity to participate in educational sessions, a tradeshow, and networking with producers from across the state. Click here for more information.


  • Business of Farming Conference. February 20th. Asheville, NC. ASAP’s annual Business of Farming Conference is a day of learning and networking for farmers and those seriously considering farming as a profession. The conference offers business and marketing workshops, networking opportunities, and resources to help farmers grow and diversify their businesses. It also features meetings with wholesale buyers, professional consulting opportunities, business and agricultural exhibits, and a locally sourced lunch. Find details by clicking here.


  • 12th Annual West Virginia Small Farm Conference. Charleston, WV. February 25 – 27, 2016. Conference goals include: Unlock the potential of West Virginia small farms to produce food profitably; Help small farms transition from commodity production to food production for community and local consumption. And Support West Virginia’s 22,000 small farms families by: providing reliable, tested knowledge about current trends, needed skills, and latest production and operation information, and building an understanding of how to develop a successful small farming enterprise. And lastly, Support and further develop West Virginia’s food system and local communities by encouraging local production, processing, wholesale & retail marketing, and consumption. Get details here.


  • National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference. February 28- March 1, 2016. Washington, DC. The National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, co-sponsored by the Food Research and Action Center and Feeding America, draws anti-hunger and anti-poverty advocates; federal, state and local government officials; child advocates; representatives of food banks and food rescue organizations; sponsoring organizations and nutrition and anti-obesity groups, for three days of training, networking and Capitol Hill advocacy. Participants share information and learn how to strengthen the quality and reach of federal nutrition programs, learn best outreach and program practices from other states and localities, fill in the gaps in food service for millions of low-income children, and identify creative ideas for new and innovative approaches to ending hunger. Members of Congress, Hill staff and key Administration officials attend the conference, provide comments as part of plenary sessions and panels, and join participants at receptions and special events. Click here to learn more.


  • SAVE THE DATE: Appalachian Food Justice Conference. May 19-21. Morgantown, WV. More details to be announced.


  • Save the Date: National Small Farm Conference. September 20-22. Virginia Beach, VA. Virginia State University will host the 7th Annual National Small Farm Conference in collaboration with Virginia Cooperative Extension and the USDA. The Conference will feature strategies for small farmers and ranchers to enhance farm income and stories from small farm activities. Registration for the Conference will open in early 2016. Save the date!



  • Finding and Buying Local Foods. February 4, 2:00 PM EST. USDA Farm to School local food procurement guru, Christina Conell, breaks down the how to’s of finding and buying local food. We’ll cover a few procurement basics and then focus on where the opportunities are to target local products in the purchasing process. Join to gain insights on how to start making change in your process, big or small. Click here to register.


  • Community Food Systems and Healthy Food Access Initiatives. February 16th, 11:00 AM ET. The session will share accomplishments, lessons learned and next steps in Virginia. Examples of initiatives addressing farm to table, urban and rural food deserts, healthy food retail, food system councils and other collaborative efforts will be discussed. Click here to join the session.


  • GroupGAP: USDA’s New Cooperative Approach to Farmer Food Safety Certification. February 18, 3:30-4:45 pm EST. GroupGAP is a new service (available Spring 2016) from USDA to audit farmers to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). Small farmers are feeling the pressure to get third-party certified as more buyers are requiring GAP certification, and as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) puts them under new regulatory oversight. In GroupGAP, a food hub, support organization, or central business entity collaborates with producers to establish site-specific best practices for complying with a food safety standard. The group develops and implements a quality management system (QMS) built to an international standard that can be measured, analyzed, reviewed, and continually improved. Come hear the experience of a few of the trailblazers – Groups who have already received GroupGAP certification. Why did they seek this certification? How much did it cost? Will they keep up their certification next year? What supports are available? What makes group a good candidate for GroupGAP? What happens if one farmer does not pass an audit? Answers to these questions and more! Click here to register.


  • Farm to School Menu Planning.  February 18, 2:00 PM EST. Let’s bring local products to life on your school lunch and breakfast menus! This presentation will take you through the menu planning cycle and show you the variety of ways to incorporate local products into your school recipes, salad bars, and cycle menus so they become permanent items in your kitchen inventory. Click here to register.


  • Food Safety: March 3, 2:00 PM EST. How can we ensure the safety of farm fresh food? We’ll share local food safety best practices, including identifying safety measures for school gardens and school salad bars. Click here to register.


  • Promoting Your Farm to School Program: March 17, 2:00 PM EDT. You’ve put in so much hard work! Now, how do you promote your farm to school program to ensure student, school, and community engagement? Hear about programs that have successfully promoted farm to school programs while managing a tight budget. . Click here to register.


Funding Opportunities

  • Appalachian Grown™ Cost Share. These funds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. ASAP, through support from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, has funds available for Appalachian Grown™ certified farms in North Carolina to be used in the promotion of locally grown food. These funds can be used for design and production of labels, packaging, or promotional materials featuring the Appalachian Grown logo. The promotion must reach the public and support farmers within one or more of the Appalachian Grown counties in North Carolina. The maximum ASAP cost share for each calendar year is $1,500 for an individual farm and $5,000 for a farmer group, dependent upon total number of farms in group. Find out more by clicking here.


  • Ben & Jerry’s Foundation Grassroots Organizing for Social Change. Organizing for Social Change Program offers general or project support to non-profit organizations throughout the United States and is BJF’s most competitive grant program. BJF makes one-year grants for up to $20,000, to organizations with budgets under $500,000. Only organizations with 501(c)3 status, or who have a fiscal agent with this status are eligible to apply. Click here for more information.


  • Golden LEAF Foundation Open Grants Program. The Golden LEAF Foundation is committed to using the funds entrusted to it for projects that show the most potential for strengthening North Carolina’s long-term economy, especially in tobacco-dependent, economically distressed, and/or rural communities. In the Open Grants Program, Golden LEAF’s grantmaking is focused in the areas of Agriculture, Job Creation, and Retention and Workforce Preparedness. In agriculture, Golden LEAF sees particular promise in the areas of value-added processing, market expansion, and projects targeting alternative crops, livestock, and aquaculture. Eligible applicants are governmental entities and 501 (c)(3) non-profit organizations. First, applicants complete a letter of inquiry. Applications are reviewed on a bi-monthly basis. Click here for more information.


  • Cedar Tree Foundation. Letters of inquiry are accepted at any time. The Cedar Tree Foundation is a small family fund whose grant making focuses on sustainable agriculture, environmental education, and environmental health. The Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals, but welcomes letters of inquiry for U.S.-based work from non-profit organizations working within its program areas. Click here to learn more.


  • The Harry Chapin Foundation. The Foundation Board meets three times a year on an as-needed basis. The Harry Chapin Foundation funds 501(c)(3) not-for-profit programs that operate in the United States that fall within the areas of Community Education Programs, Arts-In-Education Programs, and Agricultural and Environmental Programs. Grant sizes range from a few hundred dollars to a maximum of $10,000. Find out more about applying here.