Find workshop topics for the 2022 Business of Farming Conference below, organized by track. Check back for workshop speakers and schedule. Workshops will have capacity caps and will be available on a first come, first served basis. Topics are subject to change.
Building Blocks: How to Start Your Farm Business
This session will help new and early-stage farmers assemble the building blocks necessary to launch a strong business with an easy-to-use checklist, business planning templates, and a resource guide. Ask key questions to determine what kind of operation you want to run and how to set yourself up for success. Explore options for getting started and moving forward on financing, insurance, accounting, and more. Presented by Mountain BizWorks.
Navigating Farm Programs, Resources, and Support
With a wide range of resources and support available to small farms, it is often difficult to know where to start. Learn about the variety of programs and resources available to farms in the Southern Appalachian region and where to go for additional support. Hear farmer perspectives on what has been the most useful in starting and growing their own businesses.
Systems for Success: Farm Financials and Recordkeeping
Whether you are just getting started or looking to improve existing systems, this session will introduce you to three key financial tools for knowing your numbers: profit and loss reports, balance sheets, and production projections. Learn recordkeeping best practices that can be tailored to serve your farm’s financial management needs during both pre-season planning and in-season cash flow tracking. Presented by Mountain BizWorks.
Dynamics of Farm Employment
Ready to hire your first employee? This session will explore the balance of farm financials and human resource skills needed for hiring and maintaining paid farm labor. Run the numbers on how bringing on an employee could improve your profitability, brush up on your interviewing skills, and learn management techniques to promote a positive employer-employee relationship for many seasons to come.
Legal Tools for Protecting Your Farm
Join agribusiness attorneys from Ward and Smith, P.A. for an interactive session as they walk through real-life legal issues affecting farms and learn how to address those challenges and mitigate the risks farmers face on a daily basis. Topics we will cover include business formation, labor and employment, litigation (how to avoid it and what to do if you cannot resolve a dispute), legalities of farming on leased land, and estate planning/succession planning issues.
Building Your Online Presence
From your website to social media to e-newsletter, it can be difficult to know where to direct your time and money in marketing your farm business. Learn about options for tools and platforms, hear tips on content creation, and get guidance on when it might be most useful to hire professional help. Hear from peer farmers about what’s worked for them.
Direct Marketing for Niche and Culturally Significant Crops
Introducing new specialty products requires more involved customer engagement and education than promoting familiar seasonal items. This workshop will explore ways that farmers have identified appropriate market outlets for their niche and culturally significant crops as well as how they’ve used storytelling, recipes, sampling, and other approaches to grow and sustain demand for these products.
The Southern Appalachians are rich in agricultural heritage and community connections. How can we honor and share these traditions authentically, now and in the future? We invite leaders in our farming community to share what it means to them to cultivate community around their farm. We’ll touch on themes related to networking, experiential farm visits, values-aligned partnerships, inclusive food and farm spaces, and more.
CSA Options and Opportunities
As the boom in demand for CSAs levels off in the wake of the pandemic, how will your CSA find stable ground? Experienced CSA farmers will share successes, challenges, innovations, emerging trends, and what they’re expecting to navigate in the 2022 season. Explore topics related to sustaining sales, maximizing efficiency, expanding customer access, identifying the right CSA management platform for you, and more.
Food Relief Sites as Market Outlets
Food insecurity has risen sharply in our region since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join a discussion on how farmers can be part of a mutually supportive solution. Hear from a food relief agency predominantly utilizing local food in their prepared meals and from farmers who have found success growing for food relief efforts. Learn how to connect with your community’s efforts, add value to your farming experience, and get insight into the challenges and opportunities of this emerging market outlet.
Selling to Restaurants
Selling to restaurants can be a great opportunity to diversify your farm business, but it can also be a huge commitment of time and energy. Learn from farmers that sell to restaurants to gain strategies for building and maintaining restaurant sales and relationships. Walk away better prepared to meet with buyers during the lunchtime Grower-Buyer Meeting.
Beyond Restaurants and Groceries: Selling to Alternative Markets
Traditional markets like restaurants and groceries are often crowded and present challenges for small or beginning farmers. This session will explore selling to alternative market outlets, such as the beverage industry, herb and spice companies, and food trucks, as well as strategies for connecting to and growing alongside these niche outlets.
Diversifying with Value-Added Ventures
Expanding farm offerings through value-added products creates unique opportunities and challenges for farmers. This workshop presents an overview of questions to consider when exploring value-added options, as well as resources available to farms in the region. Farmers and industry professionals will share their experiences.
Crunching the Numbers: How Do You Make Meat Sales Work?
Join meat producers and NC Choices for a panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities in niche meat. Topics will include pricing for profitability, navigating processing, and successful marketing strategies.
Block 1: Market Management and Operational Support
Market managers will share challenges and best practices around a variety of topics, including market rules and governance, vendor relations, and budgeting. ASAP staff will give a presentation on resources and pilot program opportunities for 2022.
Block 2: Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in Market Spaces
Cultivating diverse, inclusive, and equitable market spaces invites in more of the community and helps to build a stronger local food system. This session will feature guest speaker Dr. Amieris Lavender of the YWCA of Asheville for a conversation about creating welcoming and engaging markets for all members of the community. Market managers can share successes and challenges they’ve experienced responding to community needs, engaging new demographics, and addressing inequities at the farmers market level.
Block 3: Marketing, Promotion, and Outreach
Participants will receive a print version of ASAP’s Farmer Market Toolkit, Part 1 for a roundtable review. Everyone is invited to bring a sample of market merchandise for exchange during our concluding Market Merch Swag Swap activity.