Back to All Events

ANNUAL CONFERENCE: Small Farm Outreach

  • Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk, VA (map)

Small Farm Outreach Program Annual Conference

OCTOBER 24 - 26 2019
Hilton Garden Inn • Suffolk, VA

Join Virginia farmers, landowners and agriculture professionals for an opportunity to hear about available resources, smart business strategies, and successful production practices—especially for those new and beginning farmers who want to learn more about what it takes to farm profitability and sustainability.

$75 per person includes meals, refreshments and bus tours at the conference.


Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront is set on a six-acre park on the banks of the Nansemond River and is conveniently located near Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Portsmouth. The hotel in Suffolk, Virginia is only 25 minutes from Norfolk International Airport.

A discounted rate ($94/night) is available for registered attendees at the conference. Check your registration confirmation email to receive the Group Code.


Contact the Small Farm Outreach Program office at (804) 524-3292 or email for details or use this link.

Conference Agenda


Conference Welcome
Registration Desk Open; Continental Breakfast


Includes the following sessions:


How to Start a New Business or Strengthen Your Existing Business
Step-by-step consideration of legal, tax, insurance, accounting, business planning, and funding topics (access to credit) that you need to address to successfully start a business. Are you really ready?


Farm Bill Update

Risks in Agriculture
Get information on crop Insurance and other programs that can help you manage risks that are specifically related to farm businesses.

Our Awards Luncheon will take place on Thursday.


Registration Desk Open; Continental Breakfast



Forrest Pritchard, a seventh generation farmer and New York Times bestselling author. Forrest’s latest book is Start Your Farm, co-written with Ellen Polishuk, a comprehensive handbook for beginning or transitioning to economically viable sustainable agriculture.


Choose from three bus tours available for the afternoon. Tours include a boxed lunch.


Peanuts: Harvest Equipment to Final Products

Amadas Industries Amadas Industries is the world's leading manufacturer of advanced harvest systems for peanuts. For over 50 years, Amadas has worked diligently to advance the technology of specialty agricultural and industrial equipment.  In early 1963, a successful partnership was formed between Oliver K. Hobbs and J. Carlie Adams. The partnership combined engineering, manufacturing, and marketing expertise to produce a new generation of peanut harvesting and processing machinery. During the decades that followed, new products were added to meet the needs of the marketplace. Today Amadas Industries produces equipment in Suffolk, VA, Albany, GA and Cordoba, Argentina. 

Amadas Industries' current product lines include pull-type and self-propelled peanut combines, peanut diggers, Reel Rain® irrigators, cotton stalk puller/choppers, round cotton module handlers, long reach mowers, and a line of industrial equipment for both the horticultural and recycling industries. In a joint venture with John Deere, Amadas developed the world’s largest and highest capacity self-propelled peanut combine.

The tour will also include a second stop to tour AmadasTrailer Building Facility.


Agritourism and Hemp

Lilley Farms  Farming in Virginia for just over 100 years.  Three brothers and their families farm what is today Lilley Farms, a 1270 acre farming operation, including 1000 acres of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans), 270 acres of trees and shrubs grown for sale to landscape contractors and re-wholesale nurseries throughout the east coast, they have also carved out niche markets in strawberries and fall agritainment (pumpkins and corn maze), farming on the urban fringe in Suffolk and Chesapeake.

Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center In the words of Dinwiddie Farmer, Billy Bain “The Tidewater AREC is an integral part of Virginia’s agriculture. Without this team of researchers, Virginia farmers would be at a loss for new information and updates. I hosted the Virginia Ag Expo at my farm in Dinwiddie County in 2008 and 2016. Due to the intense participation of experts from the AREC, both of these events were a success, providing updates to our growers across the state.”                                                                        

  • DISCIPLINES include hemp, cotton, peanut, and soybean agronomy, plant pathology of vegetables and row crops, row crop entomology, plant physiology, swine reproductive physiology and management, and plant parasitic nematode management

  • INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES include drones for precision spraying and to assess plant stress, variable rate and micro-irrigation for row crops, and teralytic soil probes to measure soil parameters real time                                               

  • FACILITIES include a 465-acre farm, 228-person auditorium, 34 buildings, including a new pesticide storage and disposal facility

  • INDUSTRY PARTNERS include peanut, cotton, corn, soybean, and small grain associations, swine industry, agricultural chemical, seed, and fertilizer industries


Green Industry and Living the $1 per Sq Ft Model Bus Tour

Bennett’s Creek Nursery is wholesale grower of container plants and a distributor of landscape materials in SE Virginia and NE North Carolina. Bennett’s Creek Nursery operates landscape distribution centers serving wholesale customers in four locations: three throughout the greater Hampton Roads Metro Area and one in the Northeastern Coastal Area of North Carolina. The business is also the exclusive grower of the Blooming & Beautiful plant line.

Slade Farms After working with both Virginia Tech in various roles and Virginia State University in various roles, all centered around making farms profitable, Cliff Slade now finds himself living the dream in Surry County. Farming Slade Farms full time, Cliff grows traditional crops with success, has found a great market for organic sweet potato transplants, utilizes high tunnel and open ground production models, and has ventured into growing industrial hemp for the CBD market for the first time in 2019. While at VSU, Cliff fathered the 43560 project, proving to all that the potential is there for a grower to make $1 or more per sq. foot of land!


Full breakfast served beginning at 8am.


Choose from a variety of sessions taking place during the morning, including:

  • Soil Health & Nutrient Management

  • Marketing

  • Farmer Stress and Suicide Prevention

  • Farmer/Veteran Programs

  • High Tunnel Management, Maintenance and Production

  • GAP Certification and Organic Farming Practices

Conference concludes at 12PM.


For more information, contact the Small Farm Outreach Program office at (804) 524-3292 or email

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact the Small Farm Outreach Program office at or call (804) 524-3292 / (800) 828-1120 during business hours of
8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

Earlier Event: October 21
Small Farmer Orientation
Later Event: November 18
Small Farmer Orientation