Workshops highlight efforts to grow local foods economy

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This week, workshops up and down the Shenandoah Valley will bring together farmers, restaurant owners, distributors, bankers, volunteers, and government agencies to discuss the growth opportunities in the local foods economy.

As national attention is focusing on both the health and environmental benefits of eating locally, entrepreneurs in the Valley still face numerous challenges in growing, marketing, and expanding their businesses. Recognizing the rising demand and strong economic opportunities in local foods, these workshops will connect farmers with grant programs, entrepreneurs with microloan funding, and provide an opportunity for individuals involved in all aspects of the local foods economy to network and learn from each other.

Each workshop will begin at 7 p.m. and run until 9 p.m. They will be held in Harrisonburg on Tuesday, March 23, in Verona on Wednesday, March 24 and in Lexington on Thursday, March 25.

Topics covered during each workshop will include:
– Growth Opportunities for the Local and Regional Food Economy
– Emerging Institutional and Regional Markets
– Financing Growth for Community Farm and Food Enterprises (including the Staunton Creative Community Fund, USDA Rural Development Programs, local Small Business Administration lenders, and the Natural Recourses Conservation Service)
– Perspectives of Local Farm and Food Business Owners
– Networking Opportunity

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