An April 7 regional Agriculture Innovation Forum in Hinton will help facilitate discussion among farmers, markets, farm-to-table consumers and other stakeholders.

Hosted by the Robert C. Byrd Institute and New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, the free event will focus on technical assistance for local producers, farm-to-school initiatives in Summers County and additional resources for existing and prospective businesses.

The types of markets and farmers themselves are changing as incentives draw veterans, sharecroppers and young farmers into the industry.

"There is a lot of misconception that farmers are only an older generation, but those younger farmers who are engaged and committed to the industry are really seeing success," said Development Authority spokeswoman Lillian Graning.

Paramount to the forum will be a roundtable discussion where growers and those who purchase local food can talk directly, she said.

"Identifying accurate supply numbers can be one difficulty purchasers face. They don't know how much producers will make each year," she said. "This forum is about connecting growers and sources with markets in a way they can come together and improve that process."

The forum came about because the development authority is often called upon to assist with farmers markets or to facilitate partnerships with agriculture.

Ultimately, focusing on increasing the efficiency for local suppliers and sellers can build a strong local food system," she said.

The free April 7 forum will begin at 11 a.m. with an update on the state of local agriculture. They will then highlight the local farm-to-school program in Summers County. At noon the group will discuss new and emerging markets for farmers followed by ways to further develop agriculture within the region.

The event is free of charge and attendees will be served lunch. Registration for the event is required prior to April 3. To register visit https://agfforum.eventbrite.com or call 304-254-8115.

— E-mail: splummer@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @Sarah_E_Plummer

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