SVCC Dean and Local Agritourism Operation to Participate in Virginia Agritourism Conference

Dr. Dixie Watts Dalton, dean of Southside Virginia Community College’s division of Humanities, Social Sciences and Business, and chair of its agribusiness program, will serve as a presenter and moderator at the sixth annual Virginia Agritourism Conference to be held on March 30th through April 1st at the Smithfield Center in Smithfield, Virginia.   Parrish Pumpkin Patch of Kenbridge, Virginia, will be represented on the opening Virginia Agritourism Panel by Jeff and Liz Parrish and son Eli, who is an alumnus of SVCC’s agribusiness program and Virginia Tech’s Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences department. The morning panel on March 31st, immediately following the conference welcome from Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture, Jewel Bronaugh, will be moderated by Dalton.

Dalton’s April 1st morning presentation, “Building the Business Plan,” will focus on the questions that aspiring agritourism operators should be asking, while also providing insights that can be helpful to existing businesses.  Following her presentation, the Parrishes will share their experiences as they started and expanded the Parrish Pumpkin Patch, providing insights on both what went well and what they could have done differently.

Additional Southside-area connections will be a part of the state-level conference. Lunenburg County native, Heidi L Hertz, who serves as Assistant Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry in the Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam, will provide a luncheon keynote address. Hudson Heritage Farm of Halifax County will be showcased during the April 1st sessions.  Owner Denise Hudson, who has hosted SVCC’s agribusiness students at her farm, will present two marketing sessions, one focused on the Barn Quilt Trail and a second on the Veteran Farming/HomeGrown by Heroes initiative.

The 2020 conference, themed “Agritourism in Virginia’s New Economy,” will enable existing and planned agritourism entrepreneurs, economic development staff and local government leaders to explore different facets of Virginia agritourism, a growing industry recently shown to generate more than 2.2 billion dollars in economic impact. Tracks composed of concurrent sessions on a variety of topics have been designed to meet the needs of both beginning and experienced operations.  A highlight of the conference is the numerous networking breaks and networking luncheons that have been built into the programming, with access to exhibitors and resources during those breaks. 

On March 30th, prior to the start of the presentation portion of the conference at the Smithfield Center, farm tours will take place in the adjoining area.  The detailed agenda, with a list of tour locations, is included on the registration site. Visit https://register.ext.vt.eduand search for “agritourism” or visit the direct link: https://register.ext.vt.edu/search/publicCourseSearchDetails.do?method=load&courseId=1043329&selectedProgramAreaId=25576&selectedProgramStreamId

Attendees can register for each day separately or for the entire conference (at a discounted rate of $150 for all three days). For more information, contact Livvy Preisser of Virginia Cooperative Extension at 757-365-6261 or livvy16@vt.edu

The conference is sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tourism Corporation, Virginia Tech, Virginia State University Small Farm Outreach Program, Farm Credit, Virginia Association of Counties, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia FAIRS, Virginia Farm Bureau, USDA Rural Development, Virginia Agribusiness Council, and the Agribusiness Program at Southside Virginia Community College.

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Livvy Preisser at 757-365-6261 during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations at least 5 days prior to the event.  *TDD number is (800) 828-1120.