MILTON — An upcoming conference in Milton will feature myriad local producers and industry experts who will share their expertise on topics such as business management, farm financials, diversifying income streams, marketing and storytelling and navigating regulations.
Food and farm entrepreneurs from across the region are invited to “Local by Local Expo,” which is a free event that is designed to equip food or farm entrepreneurs with helpful resources, information and time for connecting with other business owners, according to organizers.
The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Milton Pumpkin Park at 1 Pumpkin Way. The expo also includes lunch and snacks.
The expo is organized by Unlimited Future Inc., The Wild Ramp, Refresh Appalachia, West Virginia Department of Agriculture and the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI).
“We will have successful food and farm entrepreneur as well as representatives from various nonprofits and government agencies that will empower attendees to take their business to the next level,” Unlimited Future’s director of operations Sarah Bostic said. “There are several resources out there to get your food and farm business started or improve it, but this expo will place most of those resources all in one room plus you can have a face-to-face interaction.”
In 2016 a regional local food corridor was established in Central Appalachia. Product sales for this project were in excess of $18.2 million over two years. The increased economic activity helped to create 40 new businesses and 134 new jobs and generated $2.6 million in private investment, according to organizers.
“Building a strong local food economy does not happen overnight. It is built on trust between growers and buyers,” said Kelsey Abad, the market manager of The Wild Ramp.
The Wild Ramp is a year-round farmers’ market and local foods store that showcases West Virginia food and artisan products. They are located at the heart of the Old Central City Antiques District in Huntington.
The expo will be packed with producers, processors and market outlet representatives, organizers said. Those attending include Adad; Penny Goff of Gritts Midway Greenhouse in Red House, West Virginia; Tootie Jones of Swift Level Land and Cattle & Swift Level Fine Meats in Lewisburg, West Virginia; Nancy Burns of J.Q. Dickinson SaltWorks in Malden, West Virginia; Fritz Boettner and Adam Hudson of Turnrow: Appalachian Farm Collective; and representatives from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and The West Virginia Small Business Development Centers.
Those interested in attending are urged to register, organizers added, to get an accurate count for lunch. Register online at https://g.co/kgs/rghhcd.