Farmers from Central West Virginia gathered at Glenville State College on Friday for the first day of the Farm Opportunities Weekend. Farmers heard from speakers at the conference about strategies to increase their production and help supply local businesses, a topic that's getting more attention.
"I think there's just a heightened awareness among the public in general, but that awareness is now extending to the grower level, and looking at ways that we can handle our produce and handle our products in a manner that's better and safer," said Calhoun County farmer Bob Gregory.
Organizers of the event said that local production in West Virginia has not only grown recently, but is now meeting with more demand from the public. They want to be sure farmers in the state have what they need to make locally sourced food available around the state.
"The local food movement has been gaining traction for the past ten or twelve years, and now we're seeing more of a mainstream demand for local products. So the issue is, how do we encourage farmers to increase production, and how do we give them as many resources as they need in order to increase that production?" said Robert Hinton, who works with the Small Business Development Center, a sponsor of the conference.
But when it comes right down to it, Gregory knows that local food just tastes better, and he's looking to share it with the rest of the state.
"I like to eat, and I like good food, and one of the things I appreciate with a lengthy agricultural background is how to share that blessing with other people," Gregory said.
Farmers will learn more about operating a farm as a business when the conference continues tomorrow.