The Summer Field School has 8 on-farm classes to explore production methods and farm enterprises that are thriving in Southwest Virginia. Classes are held on the 1st and 3rd Thursday during the months of May through August at 5:30pm.
**SWVA Field School Events are sponsored by funding through the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement for up to 3 years. When the funding period ends, there may be a cost associated with the program.**
Creative Seeds Farm is Certified Naturally Grown. They began by selling a wide variety of produce to one local farmers market eventually seeing a customer need for fresh greens (specifically lettuce) year round. They began focusing their production based on customer demand and removed tilling to improve their soil.
They focus strictly on providing their customers with lettuce and “salad fixings” year round. Creative Seeds previously sold a very large variety of produce during the summer months.
Join us at TNT Farm N Greenhouse for a class of Season Extension. Season extension provides early and late harvests, winter harvests, and longer harvest windows. These techniques also offer pest and disease control. These opportunities translate into more income.
TNT began in 2012 as a greenhouse and vegetable farm selling retail at three farmers markets, selling wholesale to Appalachian Harvest, and peddling to local restaurants. From 2012-2015 TNT was USDA GAP certified and from 2012-2020 was USDA Certified Organic. In its beginning years, TNT established itself at the Abingdon Farmers Market and with a couple restaurants. The 1 acre wholesale garden was eliminated in 2015. 2021 was a fallow year for TNT and in 2022, now focuses on edible garden transplants, perennial edibles, and mostly heirloom fresh vegetables selling at the Abingdon Farmers Market and restaurants. TNT is 4000 sq ft greenhouse, 3000 sq ft high tunnel tomatoes, and a quarter acre garden. Practices on TNT are still in tune with Nature and food safety although I have chosen to no longer carry the USDA Organic or GAP certifications.
Join us at Appalachian Harvest for a class on Aggregation and Distribution services and more. Founded in 2000, Appalachian Harvest is ASD’s rural food and herb hub. Our team works with small to medium-scale local farmers, helping them get their produce and medicinal herbs to market. We provide training, assist with organic certifications, and much-needed, year-round technical support. Our team also secures retail orders from various wholesale markets and provides processing, aggregation and distribution services to get products to these markets!
Integrating operations is key to incremental success in farming. Farms aren’t about single product lines, but about how you can design your operations to support each other and build your assets (and soils) for the long haul. Shift away from extractive farming methods and focus on long term success. I will discuss our experience (both successes and failures) with building synergy in farm operations. Topics under discussion will include livestock (pigs, sheep, horses, chickens), alternative feeds, composting, pasture maintenance, kid rearing, specialty crops (such as hops), integrated processing services, fertigation, and more.
Darrell Wess and family started Valor Valley Farm in 2017 as a cow/calf operation. They have specialties in good land stewardship, quality cattle, and environmental conservation and sell at livestock markets and to other producers. Join us at the farm for a class on rotational grazing and cattle work to gain knowledge on production methods for better land and cattle, tools of the trade, and helpful resources available to begin your own cattle operation. Darrell has served as a FARM Mentor and shares some insightful information for beginning farmers; “Don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment with what works for you and your farm. Get out and tag along with other farmers doing things you’d like to implement. For anyone considering adding cattle to their farm the importance of animal health with a quality working pen is crucial. It ensures your animals and your safety in times of needed care or preventative protocols.”
Debbie Mott grew up on a ranch in Arizona. Her and her husband had a horse ranch in Coeur d’Alene Idaho and now have a farm in Southwest Virginia.” At The Old Virginia Farm & FunGirl Farms, they are growing hay and mushroom as well as raising bees, horses & German Shepherds. During this class, we will learn about maintaining healthy hives, the tools required for the trade, and how to get started with your hives. Debbie states “No matter what you think you know about bees, they will show you something different.”
Join us at Appalachian Cove Forest Farm & Homestead to learn about Forest Farming with Ryan Huish. Appalachian Cove farmers have been gardening/farming for several decades at various places. At their current location, they steward a forest farm (growing edible, medicinal, and handicraft plants), practice permaculture, no-till, animal rotation, and alley cropping. They also raise dairy goats, chickens, pigs, cows, and livestock guardian dogs.
Gather information on sustainable agriculture, and support of native ecosystems and gain a connection to the land/nature.
Visit Tumbling Creek Cider Company’s expanding orchards to learn about cider apple varieties, propagation, planting, maintenance and how to re-establish the apple industry in our region. We’ll tour the Old Orchard where we are rejuvenating 50 year-old trees and have planted many 3 year-old trees, the New Orchard as a high-density trellised system and the tree nursery. The tour will end at the cider barn to sample some of our hard cider.