Loudoun photo by Susan VanEppsLoudoun Producer                                                                          February 2014
Loudoun Grown Expo a Success

Snow couldn't keep thousands from enjoying the fourth annual Loudoun Grown Expo in Purcellville February 15. Crews cleared more than a foot of snow from the parking areas of Bush Tabernacle, allowing a steady stream of more than 3,000 to make their way through for tastings, purchases and education. More than 30 local restaurants, wineries, breweries, farms and other rural businesses showcased their made-in-Loudoun best for the event.

Rural Forum Offering Innovative Ideas; Boles to Speak

Registration is underway now for the 10th Annual Forum for Rural Innovation, a day-long conference featuring insights into what's new and successful in local agriculture. The event is aimed at farmers, rural landowners, business owners, educators, government officials and economic developers. Read the highlights and learn how to sign up.

Spring Farm Tour Sign-Ups Underway

Considering having your farm or winery included in the May 17-18 Spring Farm Tour? Did you know that 80 percent of recent participants reported increased weekend sales as a result of a tour? Now is the time to sign up! Registration begins February 25 and ends March 21. Visit the Department of Economic Development website or call 703-777-0426 for information.

Beginning Farmer Program Announced

The Northern Piedmont Beginning Farmer Program has announced spring 2014 dates for its initiative to help aspiring and diversifying farmers make informed decisions about a new operation. The eight-class program is a regional effort of Cooperative Extension offices and the Fauquier Education Farm, and will be held in Middleburg. Contact Sharon Broyles for registration and information.

Farm Breweries Advancing in Loudoun

According to the Brewers Association, there's never been a better time to open a brewery, or just be a fan of craft beer. The craft brew industry is on the upswing both in Loudoun and the nation, with U.S. operations at their highest level since the 1800s. Recently, Loudoun's Board of Supervisors took action related to expanding brewery operations in our county. Here's some background on the issue.

Governor Announces Loudoun Grant, Specialty Crop Funding

Governor Terry McAuliffe's first month in office featured honors and opportunities for Loudoun's rural industries. On January 29, Governor McAuliffe announced a $17,500 grant from the Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund to the Town of Purcellville, with the support of Loudoun County and Northern Virginia Community College. The grant will be used to conduct a feasibility study for the development of a viticultural and enology education center based on the Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture & Enology.

 

If developed, the center would serve Virginia's wine industry by training the next generation of wine makers and vineyard managers through certificate and degree programs. Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd P. Haymore called the Loudoun study "... an excellent example of seeking new initiatives that can have lasting, positive impacts on a region's agriculture and forestry sectors."

 

In addition, the Governor announced on February 6 that the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is accepting applications for USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Specialty Crop Block Grant funding. Agricultural associations, producer organizations and other groups that seek to improve the competitiveness of specialty crops (those not traditionally covered by crop insurance) in Virginia are eligible to submit proposals for grants up to $50,000 per project. The deadline for returning applications is March 21, 2014.

Hornbaker Honored by Cattlemen Group Peers
2013 Cattlemen's Association President Robert Shoemaker, on right, presents to Gary Hornbaker.

Gary Hornbaker's efforts to help and grow the region's cattle industry were honored at the 10th annual Blue Ridge Cattlemen's Association meeting held recently at Whitestone Farm in Aldie. Hornbaker, Loudoun County's rural resources coordinator and a founder of the regional nonprofit cattlemen's group, was presented with an award for his decade of work.

"The Cattlemen's Association began with a meeting of just 18 members a decade ago, sitting on hay bales talking about the industry, and has grown to over 150 registered members and 220 attendees at our annual meeting," Hornbaker said. "This regional group is very diverse, from large purebred cattle operations selling the best genetic lines in the world, all the way to part-time farmers with just a few cows."

Hornbaker is well known in the industry. He served for 22 years as Loudoun County's agricultural extension agent, and also farms more than 900 acres, raising more than 140 head of Angus cattle and other livestock annually. He is also a governor-appointed member of the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board.

"We're all very proud of the work that Gary has done in support of Loudoun's rural economy," said Economic Development Director Buddy Rizer. "As has been evidenced by our rural business strategy, a healthy rural economy reduces county infrastructure costs and contributes to the high quality of life enjoyed by Loudoun residents." 

Where's Warren

Guess where Warren is and win a prize! In this season's final installment of Where's Warren, we sent Loudoun berry grower Warren Howell out to a third-generation, family-owned farm near Wheatland. The family's farm was originally located in Fairfax County, and had the distinction of being the last orchard in that county for 30 years. In 2005, all operations were centralized into Loudoun, where the family's youngest son expanded beyond peach orchard operations to a fully diversified, pesticide-free farm. The farm offers a unique "whole-diet" CSA program (currently sold out with a waiting list) that aims to provide almost all the food needed year round for its members.

Where is Warren? Email us his location at LoudounBiz@loudoun.gov by February 27 and be registered to win pure wildflower honey from Loudoun Center Apiaries, as well as a set of Loudoun, Virginia wine glasses.

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Loudoun Producer will be published three times per year: the October issue is printed, and December and February issues will be sent by email. To be added to our list for all three, just send an email with your name and address that says "Loudoun Producer" to: LoudounBiz@loudoun.gov.


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