ASHEVILLE, N.C. — ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) is kicking off the 2020 farm planning season with its annual Business of Farming Conference, Feb. 22, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the AB Tech Conference Center in Asheville, NC. The conference focuses on the business side of farming, offering beginning and established farmers financial, legal, management, and marketing tools to improve their farm businesses and make new professional connections.
“The networking and camaraderie of the Business of Farming Conference is so valuable,” said Stacey Thompson of Our Fiddlehead Farm, who will participate in a panel on Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs). “Farmers tend to be homebodies because we have to work, so we don’t get to talk to each other. ASAP also does a good job of having a pulse on trends in farming. I always come away with a nugget of inspiration or an idea that’s new and innovative. The workshops are small-farm-centric, not scaled to industrial or one-crop farms, so the content is applicable and realistic, not theoretical.”
(photo by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project)
The conference offers over a dozen workshops led by farmers and regional professionals, including Achieve Your Farm Financial Goals, Developing Your Farm Brand, Selling to Restaurants, and more. The popular Grower-Buyer Meeting gives farmers the chance to meet with buyers from area restaurants, groceries, and distributors. Farmers can receive individual support on legal, tax, labor, recordkeeping, and marketing issues during the extended lunch. Breakfast and lunch featuring local farm products is provided.
For the second year, the conference will include a free summit and leadership training for farmers market managers as well as a new farmers market fundraising forum. With more than 100 independent markets across the region, farmers markets are an important outlet for farmers to sell their products, build their customer base, and strengthen community ties. Interested market managers should contact Mike McCreary, firstname.lastname@example.org, to pre-register for the summit.
Registration for the Business of Farming Conference is now open at asapconnections.org or by contacting ASAP at (828) 236-1282. Attendance is $75 per person by Feb. 1 and $95 beginning Feb. 2, with a discount for farm partners registering together. Sponsors for the Business of Farming Conference include Ingles Markets, Farm Burger, and Biltmore. Additional support comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Buncombe County Strategic Partnership, Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, and the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission.
—Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project