Loudoun photo by Susan VanEpps
Loudoun Producer                                                                        February 2016

Come to the Forum for Rural Innovation
Hear from nine presenters and visit
with a number of exhibitors.
The 12th annual Forum for Rural Innovation will be held Friday, March 11, from 8:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. in the Best Western at 711 Millwood Avenue in Winchester, Virginia. Farmers and rural business owners are encouraged to register for this event by March 4.  Registration is $40 per person and includes lunch and refreshments.
The nine presenters include business owners who will discuss their real-world experiences, and educators who will offer useful news and info. One of the speakers, Clifton Slade from Slade Farms in Surry, Virginia, has been rated "one of the best presenters of practical and useful knowledge presented in a comedic fashion."
"This is a great opportunity to learn, have fun, and network with other farmers," says Loudoun Economic Development Executive Director Buddy Rizer. Get more details here.

Sign Up for the Spring Farm Tour
Whether you offer camel rides or kombucha, orchids or organic vegetables, you can grow your customer base by participating in the Spring Farm Tour. Each year, Loudoun Economic Development promotes Loudoun's rural economy through printed brochures, ads and web content that urge the public to visit Loudoun farms the third weekend in May. To get your farm, winery or rural business listed on this Spring's Farm Tour, fill out the application online by March 16.

Virginia Agri-Women
Don't miss the first meeting of 2016! Women farmers and rural business owners are invited to the Virginia Agri-Women lunch on Friday, April 1 at noon at Fabbioli Cellars, located at 15669 Limestone School Road in Leesburg. To RSVP, email Cassie Walls at Loudoun Economic Development, or call her at 703-737-8458.

Small Business Week
Loudoun Small Business Week starts on May 16 and ends May 21-22 with the Spring Farm Tour. The whole week gives you great chances to network with like-minded people growing a business. At the very least, you could gain new customers; you might even find new business partners or new places to distribute your products.
Join us for happy-hour events and a movie screening, plus workshops that explore these themes:
  • Motivational Monday will feature speakers who failed their way to the top;
  • Tool-Kit Tuesday walks you through the steps to create a business in Loudoun;
  • Worldwide Wednesday showcases international businesses;
  • Thirsty Thursday helps "quench your thirst for capital" with funding-related events;
  • Finish-Strong Friday shows you how to protect your intellectual property.
Look for more details soon at LoudounSBW.org.
Grant Will Fund Agriculture Education Clearinghouse
Thanks to a cooperative effort, area farmers will soon be able to go online to find out where ag-related classes and workshops are offered nearby. The AgEd Clearinghouse will be a database of training offered by colleges, nonprofit organizations and the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office. 
The need for an AgEd Clearinghouse is outlined in the Long View Study published by Loudoun's Rural Economic Development Council. Virginia Tech's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Program funded the grant as an incentive for coalition members to create projects that showcase learning opportunities across the Commonwealth.

Both the REDC and Loudoun Economic Development provided letters of support to the Extension Office's grant proposal. Extension Agent Jim Hilleary credits this cooperation between county government departments and the REDC for improving Loudoun's competitiveness among the other grant proposals. 
The AgEd Clearinghouse is expected to be available to farmers before the end of 2016.
REDC Welcomes New Members
With the new year comes a pair of new faces to the Loudoun County Rural Economic Development Council.

Warren Howell represents the horticulture sector and owns Allder School Berries in Purcellville. Jill Evans-Kavaldjian owns Garden Corner Studios in Lovettsville, and represents an at-large seat with a focus on the arts sector.

The 25 REDC members are appointed by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and are tasked with making recommendations on the Rural Economic Business Development Strategy.

They are also responsible for coordinating the implementation of the General Revised Plan among agencies that support economic development in Loudoun.

For more information on the REDC, visit: biz.loudoun.gov/redc
Please Take Quick Survey
A local entrepreneur is in the process of building a commercial kitchen in Loudoun with the goal of providing a certified kitchen space for farmers and small food businesses to make value-added products. Please take her survey if this is of interest to you.
Where's Warren?
Did you find Warren?  In our December issue, Warren was at the Blue Ridge Tree and Berry Farm. Pictured above: Dave Hubbuch and Warren Howell look at the blueberry plants and pawpaw trees. Dave and Eleanore Meredith started with an empty field in 2000 and now grow trees, berries, vegetables and bees. Congratulations to our winner, Chris VanVlack.

HINT: Here you'll find a picture of Warren with his new friend Bruno. This farm is off Taylorstown Road. The nonprofit it houses is celebrating 25 years of rescuing, rehabilitating and re-homing horses and other equines.

Email us Warren's location by February 25 and be entered to win a jar of Bluemont's Bee Chic Naturals lavender bath salts. 


Loudoun Producer is published three times per year: the October issue is printed, and December and February issues are sent by email.