Newsletter header

In This Issue
Food Heritage Gathering March 26
Summer Food Service Program Webinar March 27
Community & Adaptive Gardening Workshops March 28-May 9
NRCS EQIP Webinar March 29
Loacl Food Round Table March 29
Food Business Workshop April 17-18
Wild Food Weekend May 4-6
Renewable Energy System Loan and Grant Program Deadline March 30
Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs Deadline March 30
NRCS Organic Initiative Deadline March 30
Healthy & Humane Farms Fund Deadline April 1
Organic Transitions Program Deadline April 25
Roadmaps to Healthy Community Grants Deadline May 2
State Farm Service-Learning Grants Deadline May 4
WV Department of Agriculture Marketing Internship Opening
Farm to School Resources
WIC study
Farm Wisdom Video Series
Acquiring Your Farm Online Course

The mission of the West Virginia food and Farm Coalition is to build, support and strengthen a statewide network of the many kinds of people involved in developing West Virginia's local food economies, with the intertwined goals of improving access to healthy, locally-produced food for all West Virginians and helping to viable food and farm businesses to grow.  The Coalition was launched in 2010 by the West Virginia Community Development Hub with funding from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.


We believe that as West Virginia farmers and food producers become more directly connected to West Virginia consumers, the results include healthier people, greater business opportunities, stronger communities, and a unique economy reflecting our state's proud heritage of self-sufficient food production.


The Coalition is guided by a 14-person Steering and Transition Committee which is helping to determine its future as an organization and to develop a more permanent, participatory leadership structure.


The West Virginia Community
Development Hub
is a statewide non-profit organization with the mission of engaging communities and providers in an intentional, aligned and continuous system of community development.
Join WVFFC's Mailing List!
Sign up for this newsletter or change your subscription


This biweekly newsletter provides a regular compilation of events, resources, and ideas that are relevant to farms and food access in West Virginia.  Whether you are a producer, consumer, nonprofit organization, educator, agency or food-related business, there may be something here to help you with your work.  The information in this newsletter is compiled by the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition, which is an organizing initiative coordinated by the West Virginia Community Development Hub


In addition to this newsletter, we now offer timely updates on specific food and farm topics.  To subscribe to updates on things you're interested in, go here and enter your email address.   



West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition News  


Webinar Announcement: Marketing Together through Producer Cooperatives: Three Stories from PA and WV

A Webinar hosted by the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Cost: Free

Farmer cooperatives are a business model that can help small and medium sized producers address local food system challenges related to aggregation, distribution, storage and marketing. By cooperatively coordinating supply chain logistics, producers work together to market and brand their products, satisfy the requirements of higher-volume purchasers like restaurants and institutional buyers, and expand distribution opportunities.

In this webinar, hear from three farm cooperative leaders from around Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Learn about and discuss how these successful models work, and how to apply lessons learned from these models to strengthen opportunities for farmers in your community.
Click here to register.

Commissioner of Ag Candidates Share Their Positions on Local Food Issues: A WVFFC Exclusive

As most of you know, 2012 is an election year for the position of Commissioner of Agriculture in West Virginia. Gus Douglass, who has held the Commissioner position for the past 44 years, is retiring. The position oversees the operations of the WV Department of Agriculture. Five candidates are running in the Democratic primary on May 8, 2012. They are: Walt Helmick, Joe Messineo, Steve Miller, Sally Shepherd, and Bob Tabb

To find out more about the candidates running in May, the WVFFC and its Steering Committee created a list of eight questions and sent them to each candidate. We were able to reach all five contenders! Since our last update, we have received Joe Messineo's answers. Be sure to read the responses from all five candidates and find out more about the election here


West Virginia Food News

Williamson receives grant for high tunnel construction

A grant acquired by West Virginia State allows for construction of ten tunnel greenhouses across the state, one of which will serve as a community garden for the Williamson Farmer's Market, as well as a way for local farmers to learn about season extension. The greenhouse currently under construction in East Williamson is 18x50 square foot (inside diameter), and if all goes as planned, two more of similar size will be added to the lot. The West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition helped the Williamson Farmers Market get started with a grant. Williamson Daily News reports here  


Working Lands for Wildlife

The Departments of Agriculture and Interior announced a new partnership to use innovative approaches with farmers and forest landowners to restore and protect the habitats for specific wildlife species. Working Lands for Wildlife focuses conservation dollars and wildlife expertise on the recovery of certain at-risk, threatened or endangered wildlife species, such as the golden-winged warbler, while also helping other vulnerable and game species that depend on similar habitat. Read the Natural Resources Conservation Service announcement here.  


National Food News  

Proposed youth farm work rules could harm FFA, 4-H

In trying to create a safer work place for youth on farms, the U.S. Department of Labor has proposed rules which threaten to end 4-H and FFA projects as currently structured. The National FFA Organization is a strong opponent, as the new rules would do away with Supervised Agricultural Experience for FFA members, one of the three components of FFA. The Labor Department received more than 10,000 comments overwhelmingly opposed to the proposed rules. Indiana Economic Digest reports here.  


USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative

This initiative, launched in 2009 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has helped galvanize the energy and interest about local and regional food systems and is kick-starting projects all over the country that have potential to help shape our food system into one that is more economically viable for small and mid-size farmers and more ecologically sound for us all. See the new electronic resource here. 


Beginning farmers share their stories in D.C.

Earlier this month, four beginning farmers and ranchers participated in a congressional briefing on the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act. They spoke about common struggles among beginners, such as access to land, credit, training, and financial assistance, as well as their involvement in programs included in the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition reports here


Upcoming Events
in and near West Virginia

Food Heritage: A Central Virginia Gathering 

March 26 6:30-8:30pm 

Charlottesville, VA 


Come learn and share knowledge about food heritage at this event hosted by the Virginia Food Heritage Project. After a brief introduction to the project, participants will be able to visit different "booths" where you can learn and share information. You might want to tell us about an old-time apple you don't see anymore, or vegetables that are unique to this area, or a heritage chicken breed you're now raising. You can share old-time recipes and food traditions. You can swap stories about how food used to be grown, processed, or sold. Help us locate old farms, orchards and other food heritage sites on maps. You can even tell a story while being interviewed on video. And we hope everyone will offer ideas for how we can integrate our food heritage into our future community development. Read more here.

Summer Food Service Program Introductory Webinar 

March 27 4-5pm 


USDA provides a free or reduced-priced lunch to 22 million children during the school year. But once school lets out for summer break, only about 2.5 million children receive a meal (about 1 in 10). Children are at a higher risk of going hungry during the summer months. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) can help to fill the summer meal gap for low-income children. Faith-based, community and private non-profit organizations can make a difference in the lives of hungry children by serving meals with SFSP, a federally funded program administered by States that reimburses organizations for meals served to children during the summer. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service is offering free webinar sessions on the Summer Food Service Program, so you can learn more about the need, the program, and how you can help. Read more here and register here.

Community & Adaptive Gardening Workshops

 Rock Lake Community Life Center 

South Charleston


The West Virginia State University Extension is launching a a five-part workshop series that will cover all aspects of designing, implementing and maintaining community and adaptive gardens. The four remaining workshops are:   


March 28- Garden Design and Plant Spacing

April 11- Plant Selection and Growing Techniques 

April 25- Raised Beds and Container Gardening 

May 9- Insect and Disease Management   


The workshop series is made possible through a grant from the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, Division of Healthy Lifestyles. There is no cost to attend the workshops, but registration is required by calling 304-766-4288 or e-mailing Rock Lake Community Life Center is located at the former Rock Lake Park location, 801 Lincoln Drive in South Charleston.

Webinar: NRCS EQIP Technical and Financial Support for Organic Farmers    

March 29, 2pm


In its fourth year, the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program's Organic Initiative aims to provide technical and financial assistance to certified organic, transitioning to organic, and exempt from certification producers. Sarah Brown manages Oregon Tilth's Organic Conservation Program which aims to bring organic technical assistance to the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). When she is not working with NRCS and providing outreach to producers, Sarah is also a beginning organic farmer in Oregon's Willamette Valley. The webinar is free and open to the public, registration required here. 


Local Food Round Table 

March 29, 6:30-9pm  

New Martinsville, WV  


Learn more about bringing local food to the table and join area businesses, farmers, educators, and hungry neighbors to chat about local food. Come at 6:30 to meet with seven to ten local producers to discuss their products and growing techniques. The Round Table will begin at 7pm. Read more here.  

Food Business Workshop 

April 17-18  

WVU State Fair Bldg., Lewisburg, WV


WVU Extension Service in full partnership with West Virginia Department of Agriculture is offering this two day workshop is for those who want to start and/or successfully operate a food business in West Virginia. It offers classes by business and food safety experts from throughout the state. You'll learn everything from developing a business plan and applying for loans to determining prices, registering trademarks and buying insurance. Other topics to be covered include needed certificates, inspections of food businesses, labeling requirements, responding to emergencies, marketing, and WVU's business incubator facility.Sponsored by Greenbrier County CEOS. Registration $50. Read more here. Find out about future workshops here

Divine Journeys Wild Food Weekend Retreat    May 4-6 

FLOC Outdoor Education Center
Harpers Ferry, WV


Come retreat into the woods, hike in companionship with Nature, reunite with local edibles, and share a gourmet meal. Later, commune with friends and learn more about the benefits of wild food while sipping wild brewed beverages. Sit around the bonfire under the stars, or around the fireplace in a comfortable lodge. Spend the night in tent or lodge and share a breakfast & wild food cooking demo. Read more here

(grants, awards, partnership ideas)

* Find a full grants calendar here, on our website!

Renewable Energy System and Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loan and Grant Program    

   Deadline: March 30, 2012


 This program provides support for energy audits and renewable energy development assistance in rural areas. Support is also provided to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. The main application deadline is March 30, 2012, but applications are also accepted on an ongoing basis up to June 29, 2012. Read more here.  


Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs Program   

Deadline: March 30, 2012           


This program identifies and supports inspiring young entrepreneurs whose work helps alleviate domestic poverty. This competitive program is open to entrepreneurs who are operating viable businesses in the United States with the dual purpose of making a difference and making a living. Eligible entrepreneurs must have launched their business before they reached age 30. Their business must be between one and five years old. Round 1 applications due March 30. Read more here


NRCS Organic Initiative 

Deadline: March 30, 2012

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Kevin Wickey reminds potential applicants to contact their local NRCS office soon to find out if they are eligible for the agency's Organic Initiative. Applications for the second ranking period of 2012 are due at NRCS offices by close of business on March 30, 2012. Read more here

Healthy and Humane Farms Funds

Deadline: April 1, 2012 


Food Animal Concerns Trust's Healthy & Humane Farm Funds Project will provide small grants to qualifying humane farmers who need assistance in improving the welfare of their farm animals. They will award grants for projects that (1) help farms transition to pasture-based systems, (2) improve the marketing of their humane products, or (3) more generally enrich the conditions in which farm animals are raised. FACT is committed to funding at least five farms each year, with the anticipated grant size ranging from $500 to $1,500 per farm. Read more here

Organic Transitions Program

Deadline: April 25, 2012


The National Institute of Food and Agriculture is requesting applications from public and private colleges and universities for the Organic Transitions Program (ORG). ORG supports the development and implementation of research, extension, and higher education programs to improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers. In FY 2012, ORG will focus on environmental services provided by organic farming systems that support soil conservation and contribute to climate change mitigation. Read more here. 

Roadmaps to Health Community Grants

Deadline: May 2, 2012


This program will support communities to implement policy or system changes to address one of the social or economic factors that, as defined by the County Health Rankings, most strongly influence health outcomes in their community. These include: education; employment and income; family and social support; and community safety. Grantees will be organizations that participate in established coalitions or networks that span multiple sectors and perspectives and may include representatives from business; education; public health; health care; community organizations; community members; policy advocates; foundations; and policy-makers. Applicants must engage community members in the planning and implementation of projects, and must collaborate with organizations having expertise in improving the health of the public. Applicants must secure 100 percent matching support, including a cash match of at least 50 percent with the balance as in-kind support. Read more here


State Farm Service-Learning Grants

Deadline: May 4, 2012


The Youth Advisory Board is currently funding service-learning projects between $25,000 and $100,000 that address the root cause of the following issue areas: access to higher education/closing the achievement gap, financial literacy, community safety and natural disaster preparedness, social health & wellness issues, and environmental responsibility. Read more here.
Employment Opportunities

WV Department of Agriculture Marketing Internship Opening   

Paid internship, 15-40 hours/week, from April/May to December 31, 2012. The intern will assist in a variety of administrative and technical support duties for the International Marketing Team on projects relating to the Southern United States Trade  

Association (SUSTA). To apply, please send cover letter and resume to Applications accepted until position is filled. See a full description here
Food for Thought
(fruitful reading, research & case studies)

Farm to School Resources on the Green Accelerator 

The Green Accelerator, designed by the Center for Economic Options, is an online community that connects people who are interested in sustainability issues and the green economy. See the Farm to School discussion group's resources from successful Farm to School programs in Colorado here.

A study: Changes to WIC Program Improve Access to Healthy Foods without Increasing Costs 

The study is one of the first to look at access to healthier foods as a result of the 2009 WIC program revisions, which represent the first changes to the WIC food package in 35 years. Although the study focused on stores in a small area of North Philadelphia, the revisions apply to food stores across the United States and could impact the availability of healthier foods for millions of women and children who participate in the program. Read more and watch various short videos here.  

Farm Wisdom Video Series 

A diverse set of small-scale producers served as farm hosts for Washington State Department of Agriculture's 2009-2011 mobile workshops aimed at helping farmers reduce risk in their businesses. Production practices, direct marketing strategies, business planning, energy conservation practices, regulations for raw and processed products are all featured in this video series. Farmers participating in the workshops found the information to be so useful that we began filming them in order to reach more farmers with this invaluable, practical information.
Funded by USDA Risk Management Agency Community Outreach and Partnership Assistance Grant. Find the video collection here


Acquiring Your Farm: An online course for farm seekers     


Access to land is one of the biggest challenges facing farmers - especially beginning farmers. Will you acquire your farm by leasing, purchasing, or a combination?  How much can you afford and how will you pay for it?  How will you determine the right property for you?  How will you work with landowners, landlords and community resources?  These are big questions for all farm seekers.

This online course will help you find the answers that are right for you.  As you go through the course, you will build your own action plan.  You will have new information and be better prepared to make sound land acquisition choices. Learn more about the online course here

This is YOUR space, YOUR newsletter and YOUR Coalition. If you have suggestions, announcements or resources you would like to share please contact us.
If you received this email from someone else, and would like to subscribe to the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition Newsletter, please visit this link to sign up.