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Rural Innovation forum scheduled for March 10

February 21, 2006

The second annual Forum for Rural Innovation will be held Friday, March 10, at the Best Western Lee-Jackson Motor Inn & Conference Center in Winchester, Va.

The event showcases innovative ideas, projects or programs that enhance farm or rural business profitability, conserve farmland and natural resources, or develop new approaches to rural prosperity that are viable in an expensive farmland-upscale consumer environment, according to the Jefferson County Agriculture Development Office.

The topics and speakers include:

"The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences' Role in Fostering Innovative Agriculture," Dr. Sharon Quisenberry, dean of the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Quisenberry is to highlight educational and research efforts at Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension to explore innovative and sustainable agriculture.

"Innovative Horticulture Production Systems," Steve Bogash, commercial horticulture educator, Penn State Cooperative Extension. Various forms of horticulture production, including high tunnel, Haygrove tunnel and others are commercially available. Hear a comparison of "why" in selecting these production systems, and opportunities in cut-flower production, vegetable production, small fruits and other niche crops.

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"Effective Farmers Markets Promotions," Bernadine Prince, founder and co-director of FRESHFARM Markets. FRESHFARM Markets operates six producer-only farmers markets in the Washington, D.C., metro area. Learn how management and public education of food and farming issues make these farmers markets the markets of choice.

"Livestock Marketing - From Hobby to Big Business," Dr. David S. Redwine, doctor of veterinary medicine, co-founder of Scott County Hair Sheep Association in southwest Virginia. Learn the history, marketing strategies and current production methods of this group in supplying a meat marketing niche.

"High Value Horticultural and Forestry Crops Program," Dr. Jerzy Nowak, head of the Department of Horticulture, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Nowak is to discuss his department's role in research aiming at commercialization of a wide range of high-value horticultural crops and sustainable production of bio-energy and bio-products.

"Innovative Marketing and Agritourism Approaches," Kate Zurschmeide, Great Country Farms, Bluemont, Va. The farm's goal is to offer ways for everyone to experience farm life and enjoy its bounty. CSAs, U-pick, weddings, picnics, Pumpkin Chunkin, Strawberry Jubilee and a farm animal barnyard are part of this innovative farm operation.

"Endless Summer Harvest: A New Way of Making GREEN," Wallace E. Reed Jr., managing director and grower, Endless Summer Harvest, associated with the U.S. Botanic Garden specializing in tropical plants. The Endless Summer Harvest farm hydroponically grows gourmet lettuces, specialty greens and culinary herbs, pesticide free, in a controlled environment.

"Off Season Strawberry Production in Unheated Greenhouses," Dr. Fumiomi Takeda, research scientist, USDA/ARS, Kearneysville. Dr. Takeda will present production issues and opportunities, including cultural practices, pest management and pitfalls associated with strawberry production in unheated greenhouse structures.

"Container Production of Trees," Louis Nichols, Bellwether Farm, Purcellville, Va. Containerized production of Christmas trees and landscape nursery trees can reduce growing time of Christmas trees by 40 percent. Learn production techniques to reduce labor and increase production of Christmas and shade trees.

In addition, exhibits by agricultural suppliers, businesses and support agencies will be featured. Area agricultural businesses are encouraged to participate with exhibits and displays, the ag development office said.

A registration fee of $35 per person will include the forum, morning refreshments and buffet lunch. Registration information is available online at www.JeffersonFarms.org; or by calling 1-703-777-0426. Registration by March 3 is required.

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