The 2014 Business of Farming Conference was a great success! BIG thanks to all the attendees, speakers, exhibitors, interns, volunteers, and sponsors who made the event not only possible but a pleasure. Want to get a glimpse of the conference? Keep reading for a Storify collection of tweets and posts. And, flip through a photo album at fromhere.org. You can also find speaker presentations on SlideShare.
2014 Workshops Descriptions
Workshop Block One: 9:45 am – 11:15 am
Farm Business Planning: Assessing Your Costs | Jensen 306
Are you so bogged down with working “in” your business that you don’t take the time to work “on” your business? This session will give you the opportunity to look at your farm business from an aerial perspective and assess all of the costs involved, including start-up costs, overhead, variable costs, and factors to consider in pricing. You’ll learn the importance of understanding and working with a cash flow projection.
Annie Price of Mountain BizWorks
Food Safety: Current Trends and GAP Certification | Jensen 308
Farmers are facing new customer concerns about food safety and the Food Safety Modernization Act. This session will address the current status of food safety and how it affects farmers. Learn what GAP Certification is and how to obtain it. Walk through the key phases of a mock audit. Two case studies will be presented, one focusing on farm and crop certification and the other highlighting a produce handling facility.
Jeremy DeLisle of NC Cooperative Extension Service and TRACTOR Aggregation Facility, and Farmer TBA
Expand Farm Offerings with Value-Added Products | Jensen 303
Explore adding value to your farm products through farmers who are doing just that. Learn valuable lessons from three farmers as they share their experiences in a moderated panel discussion. Topics covered will include getting started, packaging and labeling, marketing and future expansion.
Jenn Beck of Madison County Extension, Joel Mowery of Smokin J’s Fiery Foods and Farm, Cynthia Sharp of Oak Moon Creamery, and Danny McConnell of McConnell Farms
Considerations for Selling Wholesale | Jensen 302
Learn the ins and outs of building and maintaining relationships with wholesale buyers. A panel of experts will be on-hand to share their experiences with purchasing local products and answer your questions. This session’s discussion will include communication and marketing strategies, product and production requirements, and getting the most value out of your wholesale relationships. Do you have specific questions about growing for the wholesale market? Visit Craig Mauney with NC State Extension for a consulting session during lunch.
Jess Epsten of ASAP, Anne Lancaster of Mountain Food Products, Sarah Blacklin of NC Choices, and Restaurant buyer TBA
Land Access: The Legalities of Leasing Land | Jensen 305
Trying to find land to start a farm operation? Interested in expanding your acreage by leasing land? This session will cover important legal elements to consider when negotiating a contract to lease land. We’ll discuss the benefits of different lease structures (long-term vs. short term, etc.), termination of leases, enforcement of lease provisions, formation and use of business entities, and the use of leases in farm transition and estate planning. It will also provide information about a developing farmland matching program in WNC.
Cameron Farlow of Organic Growers School and WNC Farm Link, Eric Mine of Land Loss Prevention Project
Workshop Block 2: 1:30 pm – 3 pm
Agritourism: Grow Your Farm with Safety and Fun | Jensen 302
How can you operate your farm business with peace of mind and still have fun welcoming the public? How do you determine the safety level of your farm? What questions do you have about the responsibility of farm safety? Hear directly from three farms! They’ll share details of their agritourism projects designed to generate revenue, draw visitors, and guarantee a memory visitors will take home.
Martha Glass of M&S Glass Consulting, Inc., Alan Ward of St. Paul Mountain Vineyards, Doug Harrell of Harrill Hill Farm, Elke Amenda-Spirakis of Wellspring Farm
QuickBooks for Beginners | Jensen 306
Where does your money go? Which farm enterprises are most profitable? Every farm and business needs accurate recordkeeping to guide its decisions, keep up with tax requirements, and plan for the future. This workshop, designed for farms with little or no QuickBooks experience, will show you how to set up your farm business books and discuss the benefits of transitioning to automated bookkeeping. Participants will learn how to design the chart of accounts and class list, post income and expense items, and interpret basic financial reports. A Q&A session will follow.
Marsha Byrd of Snap Accounting Services, Inc.
Becoming Social Media Savvy | Jensen 305
Wonder how many times a day to post to Facebook or Twitter? Curious about what content to include in your e-newsletter? Unsure if you should jump on the Pinterest bandwagon? This beginning-intermediate workshop will answer your questions and cover the who, what, when, where, and why of social media and e-newsletters. Hear from ASAP’s former communications manager and two local farmers who are using social media websites and e-newsletters to their advantage.
Maggie Cramer, Freelance Writer, Editor, and Communications Specialist, Rachel Brown and Susan English of English Farmstead Cheese, and Dawn Robertson of East Fork Farm
Sell More! Improving Sales at Your Farmers Market | Jensen 308
How can you improve your sales at market? This workshop will share best practices for selling at market and offer practical tips, recommendations, and resources for increasing sales. Content includes handouts and references compiled by successful market vendors focusing on product mix, presentation and display, sampling, promotion, and customer service.
Mike McCreary of ASAP
Structuring Labor on the Farm | Jensen 303
Are you interested in hiring workers on your farm but aren’t sure where to start or how to manage them? What are the laws on hosting interns and what do experienced farmers say about using them effectively? Hear from three knowledgeable local growers about different ways of structuring labor on the farm! We’ll also discuss legal considerations, employee retention, and recordkeeping.
Cameron Farlow of Organic Growers School and WNC Farm Link, Becca Nestler of Balsam Gardens, Tom Elmore of Thatchmore Farms, and farmer TBA.
Workshop Block Three: 3:30 pm – 5 pm
30 Direct Marketing Strategies to Reach Your Customer Base | Jensen 303
You may grow a great product, but it’s not always easy to find customers. Whether you’re isolated in a rural area with limited local markets or trying to sell farm products in a competitive area, you need a creative approach! In this workshop, you’ll learn how to apply classic marketing thinking to the local food and farm customer base. Define your niche … and reach the people! Learn practical, doable marketing steps from both the presenter and your fellow attendees.
Jess Epsten of ASAP
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Options and Opportunities | Jensen 308
This workshop will provide an overview of CSA models and challenges. A panel of experienced CSA farmers will offer information and insights on CSA program options, promotion, and coordination. Workshop participants will be encouraged to ask questions and share challenges. Note: Content is designed to focus on coordination and promotion rather than on growing or production topics.
Mike McCreary of ASAP, Christina Carter of Ten Mile Farm, Wendy Brugh of Dry Ridge Farm, Annie Perkinson of Flying Cloud Farm
Building Community Capital | Jensen 302
Building a loyal customer base by making connections in the community is one strategy for long-term farm sustainability. This workshop will explore how to link your farm to your community in ways that work for you and your farming operation. Hear how Full Sun Farm organizes their CSA work-share for community members, and learn about Trosly Farm’s on-farm Saturday store and community events. Learn about these and other opportunities for participating in community outreach and inviting customers to be a part your farm.
Vanessa Campbell and Alex Brown of Full Sun Farm, Amos Nidiffer of Trosly Farm, and Anna Littman of ASAP
Demystifying Web Development and E-commerce | Jensen 305
Learn what’s new in the world of web development that could benefit your farm. This session will introduce you to simple web platforms and help you decide whether to hire a developer or design your own website. Interested in selling your products online? Get an overview of your options for selling directly to your customers on the web and decide if this is a viable approach for your farm business.
Jose Ibarra of Applied Solutions Group, Inc.
Advanced Accounting and Tax Topics | Jensen 306
Learn how QuickBooks can assist your farm with determining profitability, grant and sales tax tracking, and more. This session will answer any questions you may have regarding relevant tax topics for farmers. This session is tailored for farms already familiar with QuickBooks programs.
Marsha Byrd of Snap Accounting Services, Inc., Dawn Barnard of ASAP
Other 2014 offerings include:
- Grower-buyer meetings (meet with restaurant owners, chefs, distributors, and grocers to discuss the possibility of a match between what you produce on your farm and what these buyers need)
- Opportunities to meet with professional consultants and attorneys (engage in small, informal sessions for support around legal issues, social media, accounting, business planning, and more)
- A locally sourced lunch and breakfast
- A comprehensive resource notebook
- The chance to tour Warren Wilson College’s farm and garden
Directions, Map, and Accommodations
- Holiday Inn – Biltmore East at Blue Ridge Parkway – 828-298-5611
- Motel 6 – 828-299-3040
- Days Inn – 828-298-4000
- Super 8 – 828-298-7952
Most of Asheville is within 15-20 minutes of the conference site, and Asheville has more than 6,000 hotel rooms. There is no need to restrict yourself to these four choices. The following establishments are within 30 minutes of Asheville. You’ll find additional options in the B&B’s/Farm Lodging section of ASAP’s Local Food Guide. Being 30 minutes from Asheville, some may be 40 minutes from the conference site. Also note that some are rural and may be difficult to access in inclement weather, so ask the farmer/innkeeper if you have concerns about travel distances.
- Cloud 9 Relaxation Home
- Mountain Valley Rock House at Dogwood Hills Farm
- Hawk and Ivy Bed and Breakfast
- Highland Lake Inn
- Inn on Main Street
- Princess Anne Hotel
This year’s conference is brought to you with support from: