Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the Virginia Food System Council and its participating organizations, and the University of Virginia’s Institute for Environmental Negotiation will hold Virginia Food System and Farm-to-Table Forums in late March and mid-April to determine priorities for strengthening local, regional, and statewide food systems.

The forums will be held on Tuesday, March 29 at the Inn at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and on April 14 at Virginia State University’s Randolph Pavilion in Petersburg, Va. Both events will take place from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and sign-in will begin at 8:30 a.m.

“The objective of these forums is to frame a vision for a healthy, vibrant, resilient food system and address the challenges, opportunities, and priorities for strengthening Virginia’s food system and local economies,” said Eric Bendfeldt, community viability area specialist for Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Northwest District. “The results of these forums will help in the development of a Virginia farm-to-table plan.”

The Virginia Food System and Farm-to-Table Forums will be of interest to farmers, food entrepreneurs, market managers, chefs, and restaurateurs; local government, community planning, and economic development officials; food buyers for schools, universities, hospitals, and institutions; individuals interested in sustainable community, health, and community nutrition; farmland protection and environmental conservation groups; and farm and food cooperatives.

After a lunch, a facilitated discussion will help attendees identify the top priorities for strengthening and enhancing the local and regional food system in Virginia and the role agriculture and foods can play in economic recovery. Discussion will also focus specifically on research, education, policy, and infrastructure needs for strengthening the local and regional food system business sectors.

You may register for one of the forums online. Registration is limited to 100 participants at each event. The registration deadlines for the March 29 and April 14 forums are March 25 and April 12, respectively.

If you are not able to attend one of these forums, the Virginia Food System Council and its participating organizations will also hold listening sessions across the state to gain more public input and participation on specific strategies for strengthening Virginia’s food system.

Funding for these forums is provided by Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Integrated Internal Competitive Grants Program as part of a Virginia Food System Research and Extension Initiative to Strengthen Virginia’s Agricultural Economic Vitality and Community Viability for Farm-to-Table.

For more information, contact Eric Bendfeldt at (540) 432-6029 ext. 106, Crystal Tyler-Mackey at (804) 524-5494, or Kim Niewolny at (540) 231-5784.



Share this story