Annual Small Farm Outreach Conference begins Oct. 24


Starting a small farm is just the first step for a new or beginning farmer. The next step is figuring out how to keep it growing, profitable and sustainable.

Farmers, landowners and agriculture professionals can learn more about the best practices for farm profitability and sustainability at the 2019 Small Farm Outreach Conference Oct. 24-26 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Suffolk. This is an opportunity to learn about available resources, smart business strategies and successful production practices.

Celebrated New York Times best-selling author and seventh generation farmer Forrest Pritchard will share strategies from his latest book, Start Your Farm. The book, co-written with Ellen Polishuk, is a comprehensive handbook for beginning or transitioning to economically viable, sustainable agriculture.

“This conference is a must for all farmers, whether they are beginning or experienced farmers,” said William Crutchfield, Director of the Small Farm Outreach Program at Virginia State University. “Farming is always changing, weather patterns are changing and farming techniques are changing. The key to sustainability and profitability is keeping up with the changes and implementing new strategies.”

The three-day conference includes educational sessions that focus on business and production management techniques as well as marketing strategies. Topics range from crop insurance to disease and pest management to farm safety, as well as mitigating legal and financial risks.

Participants will also discover new options to help diversify and add value to their farm operations. They can also explore resources available from USDA, Virginia’s Small Business Administration and other state and local agencies and organizations that support agriculture enterprises in Virginia.

Participants will also have an opportunity to choose from one of three tours of local farm operations. The cost is $75, which includes registration, meals and the tour. To register, visit, click on the event and then click on the registration link. Hotel rooms are available at a discounted rate ($94/night) for registered attendees at the conference. Check your registration confirmation email to receive the group code for the hotel.

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact the Small Farm Outreach Program office at or call (804) 524-3292 / (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

Founded in 1882, Virginia State University is one of Virginia’s two land-grant institutions and is located 20 minutes south of Richmond in the village of Ettrick. VSU’s College of Agriculture consists of three academic departments: Agriculture, Hospitality Management, and Family and Consumer Sciences. Integrated within the College are an Agricultural Research Station; Randolph Farm, a 417-acre research and educational facility; and Virginia Cooperative Extension.