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Soil Health Training

Farm-to-Table Webinar Series

Farm to table

The Virginia Soil Health Coalition has partnered with Virginia Farm-to-Table on a webinar series highlighting various experts in soil health, community viability, food value chains, and more. We hope to bring a holistic, interdisciplinary perspective to soil health and it's impact on all components of the food system for practitioners and partners. Recordings and materials from the webinars are available below. 

Dr. Elizabeth Heilman, Professor of Education at Wichita State University

The webinar series features Dr. Elizabeth Heilman. Dr. Heilman is a Professor in the School of Education at Wichita State University and co-founder of Regenerative Wisdom. Dr. Heilman and her husband Dale Strickler live in Iola, Kansas a short distance from Dale’s family farm. Dr. Heilman researches and teaches on how the most socially powerful belief systems are formed and the psychological, cultural, and political factors that shape them. Her current work focuses on what is most needed educationally and socially to foster sustainable human flourishing, which includes understanding the connection to environmental ecology, emotional ecology, regenerative agriculture, and food systems.

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In this two-part series, Dr. Elizabeth Heilman will focus on how to root resilience in farm communities and strategies to empower farmer participation for meaningful and durable results. The webinars are aimed to enhance understanding among farmers, Extension personnel, technical service and cost-share providers, government agencies, nonprofits organizations, and corporations about the unique cultures and sociologies of rural communities that influence behavior, resilience, adoption, and participation.

Part 1: Rooting Resilience in Farm Communities

Dr. Heilman discusses how to navigate and recognize emotional trauma, cultural dynamics, and sociological factors affecting change in farming communities. The webinar enhances understanding of the unique culture and sociology of rural communities, while addressing common cultural disconnects in discourse among farmers, Extension personnel, technical service and cost-share providers, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and corporations. 

Part 2: Harvesting Unity: Empowering Farmer Participation

Dr. Heilman will discuss establishing and empowering farmer participation in educational outreach, state and federal conservation programs, and research-related grant initiatives. Dr. Heilman will share techniques for listening across differences, navigating disagreements to achieve common ground and more unity needed for successful farm-to-fork and regenerative agriculture results and strategies for structuring outreach to maximize participation for farmers. 

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Webinras

Soil Health Training Webinar Series with Mark Schonbeck

The Virginia Soil Health Coalition hosted a series of webinars with soil health specialist Mark Schonbeck. The webinars are part of a professional development program grant with Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE). Mark has worked for 31 years as a researcher, consultant, and educator in sustainable and organic agriculture. He has participated in on-farm research into mulching, cover crops, minimum tillage, and nutrient management for organic vegetables.

For many years, he has written for the Virginia Association for Biological Farming newsletter and served as their policy liaison to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. He has also participated in different research projects to analyze, evaluate and improve federally funded organic and sustainable agriculture programs. In addition, Mark offers individual consulting in soil test interpretation, soil quality and nutrient management, crop rotation, cover cropping, and weed management.

The notes and recordings from the three webinars are available below.

Why “Organic” Matters for Soil Health in Virginia:

Soil Organic Matter and USDA Certified Organic Farming

August 8, 2023, 2:00 pm

 

Throughout the history of the organic agriculture movement, soil organic matter (SOM) has played a central role in the goals and practices of the organic method. The NOP Standards codify this priority, requiring certified producers to implement systems and practices that build SOM and soil health. This webinar will explore the nature of soil organic matter and how it relates to soil health, review recent research that documents the efficacy of organic systems in building and maintaining SOM, and provide guidelines for organic farmers and conservationists on how to fully realize the potential of the organic method to optimize SOM and soil health.

Biological Nutrient Management for Virginia:

Organic Practices to Build Soil Fertility and Protect the Chesapeake Bay

August 17, 2023, 2:00 pm

 

Organic and natural mineral nutrient sources allowed by the USDA NOP Standards offer both advantages and challenges in meeting crop needs while enhancing soil health and protecting ground and surface water from excess nutrients. Unlike conventional soluble fertilizers that can be metered precisely, organic nutrient sources must undergo biological processing to release nutrients, especially nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) to crops. As best organic practices enhance soil health, the soil’s biological capacity to meet crop nutrient without concentrated fertilizers increases. This webinar will explore biologically based nutrient dynamics and provide guidance on how organic producers and conservationists can realize the soil’s potential to sustain production with minimal use of concentrated and potentially polluting nutrient sources.

Organic Farming: Tillage, Chemical Abstinence, and Soil Resource Protection

November 20, 2023, 10:00 am

 

Conservation agriculture aims to eliminate physical soil disturbance – tillage – while allowing judicious use of fertilizers and pesticides as needed. Organic farming as codified by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) aims to minimize chemical disturbance to soil life by excluding synthetics. NOP allows judicious tillage and cultivation practices, provided that soil condition is maintained or improved. This webinar will cover recent research and current best farming practices related to minimizing soil disturbance, and aims to deepen understanding of how both systems can enhance soil health and climate resilience, what unique benefits and challenges the organic approach entails, and how NRCS field personnel can help organic producers meet their soil, resource, and climate stewardship goals.

Farm Visits

Summer 2023 Soil Health Show & Tell Farm Visits

Are you an agricultural service provider or conservation professional?

Do you want to learn more from some of the most innovative producers in Virginia?

 

Join us for one of three Soil Health Show & Tell Farm Visits to learn about how soil health champion farmers across Virginia are implementing soil health on their operation, what challenges and opportunities they are realizing, and how you can most effectively work with producers to implement holistic soil health systems. The visits are led by the Virginia Soil Health Coalition in partnership with the Virginia Association of Biological Farming with funding from Southern SARE.

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REGISTRATION FOR ALL FIELD DAYS IS NOW FULL. EMAIL MSKETCH2@VT.EDU IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE ADDED TO THE WAITLIST. 

Learn more about the soil health champion farms

Broadfork Farm: Owned and operated by Janet Aardema and Dan Gagnon, Broadfork is a small family farm in Chesterfield, VA providing the metro-Richmond area with Certified Naturally Grown vegetables. They use traditional European methods of biointensive, raised bed production while maximizing soil and plant health for nutrition and sustainability. No synthetic/chemical fertilizer, pesticide, herbicide, or fungicide is ever used in any part of the process of growing your food. Growing practices at Broadfork utilize only ecological methods: compost, cover crops, organic fertilizer, and minerals are used to feed the soil that feeds our plants.

Radical Roots Farm: Radical Roots Farm catalyzes positive change by growing high-quality and organically grown vegetables, educating about permaculture & sustainable agriculture, and practicing what we teach. They use sustainable methods of farming such as cover cropping, crop rotation, attracting beneficial insects and applying compost. Without the use of synthetic chemicals, herbicides and pesticides, They rely on hand labor and natural cycles for the healthiest soil, roots and plants.

Bramble Hollow Farm: Resting on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge mountains in Bedford County, Virginia, Bramble Hollow Farm has been providing pastured poultry and pork for nearly two decades. Since 2004, Brent & Anna Wills have been building a diverse farm operation and have provided a model for other farmers and homesteaders to emulate. With the health of the land, plants and animals being a priority, Bramble Hollow is a true demonstration of what a family-owned diversified mountain farm can be, guiding the natural principles of food production to support the community and uplifting other farmers and growers in the Roanoke valley and beyond.

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Di & Demo

Fall 2022 Soil Health Dig & Demo Trainings

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During the fall of 2022, the Coalition worked with Virginia NRCS and other Coalition partners on a series of 8 soil health training field days across the state. The trainings

 

Thank you to the over 200 agricultural service providers from agencies and organizations across Virginia who attended. Stay tuned for more information on follow-up from these events and other upcoming training opportunities in 2023. 

Fall 2022 Dig & Demo trainings made possible by these partners:

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These trainings are part of a larger series of in-person and virtual trainings for agricultural service providers and professionals on the principles and priorities of soil health. Resources and trainings will provide peer-to-peer soil health education through a combination of in-person/on-farm events and networking opportunities and virtual/online educational materials. Funding for this project is provided by Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) as part of their Professional Development Programming Grant Program. 

During the fall of 2022, the Coalition worked with Virginia NRCS and other Coalition partners on a series of 8 soil health training field days across the state. The trainings

 

Thank you to the over 200 agricultural service providers from agencies and organizations across Virginia who attended. Stay tuned for more information on follow-up from these events and other upcoming training opportunities in 2023. 

Fall 2022 Dig & Demo trainings made possible by these partners:

nrcs_logo_larger.png
download.jpg
VCE_horizontal-rgb.jpg
Southern-SARE-logo.jpeg
VAsoil_logo_color.png

These trainings are part of a larger series of in-person and virtual trainings for agricultural service providers and professionals on the principles and priorities of soil health. Resources and trainings will provide peer-to-peer soil health education through a combination of in-person/on-farm events and networking opportunities and virtual/online educational materials. Funding for this project is provided by Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) as part of their Professional Development Programming Grant Program. 

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