ASHEVILLE —Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) is kicking off the 2019 farm planning season with its annual Business of Farming Conference, Feb. 23, 8 – 4 pm 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 conference is held at a great time of year when we still have the time and ability to make plans and look at the farm from a business perspective. I participate year after year because there is always a new topic that I believe my farm business can benefit from,” says Niki Irving, owner of Flourish Flower Farm. Irving will teach a social media workshop at this year’s conference. “I am excited to share how social media does not need to be daunting or feel overwhelming, and how it can actually bring new customers to your farm.”
In addition to social media marketing, the conference will offer over a dozen workshops led by innovative farmers and regional professionals. Workshops returning from previous years include “Community Supported Agriculture Opportunities,” “Farm Business Planning,” and “Improving Sales at Farmers Markets,” along with several new sessions, such as “Hosting Events and Dinners on Your Farm” and “Developing Your Farm Brand.” The popular Grower-Buyer Meeting offers farmers the chance to meet one on one with local buyers from area restaurants, grocers, and distributors. Farmers can also receive individual support on legal, business, tax, and marketing topics from local agencies and businesses during the lunchtime break.
New this year, the conference will include a farmers market summit and leadership training. 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. “Farmers markets in the mountains face unique challenges and opportunities,” shares ASAP’s Mike McCreary, organizer of the summit. “We are looking forward to bringing together market managers from across Western North Carolina to support and build successful farmers markets.”
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 before Feb. 1 and $95 beginning Feb. 1, with a discount for farm partners registering together. The Business of Farming Conference is made possible with support from USDA Beginning Farmer Rancher Development Program, USDA Farmers Market Promotions Program, Buncombe County Strategic Partnership, Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, and other community support. Breakfast and lunch featuring local farm products will be provided by main sponsors Ingles and Farm Burger.[High-resolution photos available. Contact Sarah Hart at email@example.com.]
ABOUT ASAP (APPALACHIAN SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PROJECT)
ASAP’s mission is to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and supporters, and build healthy communities through connections to local food. To learn more about ASAP’s work, visit asapconnections.org, or call (828) 236-1282.