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What Works III conference resources now available online

Posted: June 20, 2014

Do entrepreneurs catalyze food system development? What does the concept of "regional food" really mean to consumers? How do producer cooperatives work? These are just a few of the questions addressed during last month’s "What Works III" conference, an event co-organized by the Penn State-based Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development and the National Value-Added Agriculture Conference.

From ranchers to researchers to entrepreneurs, more than 100 people gathered in Baltimore on May 13-15 to exchange ideas around the theme of “Enhancing Food Security and Rural Viability through Innovative Food System Practices and Opportunities.” The event featured 33 workshops and breakout sessions, an ongoing poster exhibit, and even a field trip to Maryland’s largest organic farm.

Participants, some of whom came from as far as the Philippines and Nigeria, reported that it was an excellent networking opportunity. In fact, 100% of the post-conference evaluation respondents said they met at least one new person with whom they plan to maintain communication or collaboration.

In addition to numerous networking opportunities, the two-day program included workshops on wide-ranging topics including recipe-to-market initiatives, food hubs, urban agriculture, agritourism, and entrepreneurship in food systems. USDA staff members delivered lunch-time presentations, providing statistics from the 2012 Census of Agriculture, updates from the USDA Farmers Market and Farm-to-School Programs, and information on local-food farming from the Agricultural Resource Management Survey.

A selection of presentations delivered at the conference is available here.