Communities across the country are realizing important social, health and nutrition, economic, and aesthetic benefits from incorporating urban farming and food production into their planning processes and redevelopment strategies. 

Community stakeholders are invited to explore these benefits and the importance of urban agriculture programs during the Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit to be held April 15-16 at the Holiday Inn Lynchburg.

The summit is an opportunity for community members and agriculture stakeholders to come together to take a more in-depth look at urban agriculture in the Commonwealth of Virginia — past, present, and future — along with its many challenges and opportunities. 

“Participants at this event will gain a critical understanding of urban agriculture and be able to assist in the development of strategies to reduce food insecurity, increase food access, and enhance healthy and nutritious options within their communities,” said Kevin Camm, agriculture and natural resources Virginia Cooperative Extension agent in the City of Lynchburg unit and one of the summit's organizers.

Topics to be addressed at the summit include:

  • Agriculture in America’s cities and towns.
  • Lynchburg and urban agriculture.
  • Fostering urban agriculture through brownfields redevelopment.
  • Virginia's Region 2000 Partnership's agriculture strategic plan.
  • Food deserts and food access, turning challenges into opportunities.
  • Urban agriculture and city government in 2014.
  • Urban food systems and opportunities for economic development.
  • Health, nutritional, and social aspects of urban agriculture.
  • The future of urban agriculture: What is the role of land-grant universities?

In addition, Virginia’s first lady, Dorothy McAuliffe, and Lynchburg City Manager L. Kimball Payne III have been invited to address the conference.

Attendees will take guided tours of the nonprofit urban farm Lynchburg Grows, which has as its mission helping disadvantaged persons enjoy the healthy benefits of gardening. It conducts programs at community centers, elementary schools, and a summer camp and has donated more than 17,000 pounds of fresh produce to a local food pantry. An equal amount has been sold to restaurants and at a local farmers market.

Summit participants have the opportunity to attend an evening reception and special screening of the documentary by Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette, "Growing Cities: A Film About Urban Farming in America," at Randolph College on Monday, April 14.

Registration is $75 for two days or $50 for one day. Registration includes Monday’s reception, lunch on Tuesday, and a continental breakfast and lunch on Wednesday. For more information about the agenda and speakers and to register for the summit, please visit the Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit website or contact event coordinator Christie Young at 804-516-2396.

The Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit is organized by Centra; the Federation of Virginia Food Banks; Lynchburg Grows, Shalom Farms; Society of St. Andrew; Virginia Cooperative Extension; Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Virginia Department of Health; Virginia Farm Bureau Federation; Virginia Food System Council; Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation and Rural Sustainability; and Virginia’s Region 2000 Partnership Local Government Council.



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