From backyard chickens to rooftop apiaries, beginning farmers are looking to urban agriculture as an increasingly popular and sustainable way to combat food insecurity and build a sense of community in cities and towns across the commonwealth.

Commonwealth residents who are interested in finding out more about urban farming can attend the third annual Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit from Oct. 22-23 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Richmond.  

The event, which is being sponsored in part by Virginia Cooperative Extension, will feature summit keynote speakers and panelists who will address the current state and future of urban farming operations in the United States, as well as visits to the Harding Street Community Agricultural Center in Petersburg and the Tricycle Gardens in Richmond.

Registration is $75. Participants can find out more about the summit and register online or print a form to mail with registration fees. 

Keynote speaker Ben Greene of the The Farmery in Raleigh, North Carolina, will speak about unconventional farming techniques such as using shipping containers, aqua and hydroponics, and allowing consumers to harvest their own food as techniques for establishing a thriving urban agriculture entity. Other guest speakers at the summit include Ben Flanner of Brooklyn Grange Farm in Brooklyn, New York; Margaret Morgan, cheif executive officer of Eco City Farms in Riverdale, Maryland; and Virginia Secretary of Agriculture Todd Haymore.

Virginia Cooperative Extension specialists and faculty from the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will also address panels on soil and food systems management. Greg Evanylo, professor of crop and soil environmental sciences and Extension specialist; Alex Hessler, dining services director; and Ed Jones, director of Virginia Cooperative Extension.

A recent report commissioned by Virginia Cooperative Extension demonstrated that if each Virginia household spent just $10 of their total weekly food budget on local food and farm products, $1.65 billion would be generated annually, directly impacting Virginia’s economy.

Sponsors of the summit to date include the Virginia Department of Health; the Federation of Virginia Food Banks; Shalom Farms; the Society of St. Andrew; Virginia State University; Virginia Tech; Virginia Cooperative Extension; the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation; the Virginia Food System Council; the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture Innovation & Rural Sustainability; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency.

 

 

Written by Amy Loeffler