This month we highlighted Virginia Association for Biological Farming (VABF), our newest addition to the Coalition family. Their community covers a wide range of farmers, gardeners, researchers, students, professionals and supporters of local and sustainable food systems. We spoke with Michael Reilly to learn what VABF is all about.
Tell us about your organization and your mission.
The mission of the Virginia Association for Biological Farming (VABF) is to promote, educate about and advocate for biological and organic farming and food production. Our diverse membership includes farmers, gardeners, seed growers, orchardists, livestock producers, large and small-scale vegetable producers, foodies, grain growers, compost makers and generally those interested in producing high-quality, nutrient-dense foods for their communities. Our members focus on soil health practices and diverse production methods that regenerate the biological systems necessary to feed a healthy plant, animal and human population.
What is one of your current projects you are the most excited about?
VABF is currently working with the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) and the Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (CASA) to develop a regional network of farmers and food producers to provide broader depth in training and mentoring programs and expand the notion of soil health and nutrient-dense foods beyond state borders. The establishment of a Soil Health Collaborative is especially exciting as we connect with partners from within and outside the farm world to provide financial and technical assistance to farmers interested in growing high quality food using regenerative practices and soil health principles.
What issue area do you hope to focus on more of in the future?
One of the primary goals of VABF is to provide a network for small, diverse family farms to connect for support, training and assistance with biological farming practices, including the marketing of high quality products. Commodity-based agriculture gives little thought to nutritional quality of food products or the environmental impacts those systems have on local communities, and therefore have proven to be unhealthy and unsustainable. We are excited about the resurgence of and focus on local, sustainable and biologically-grown products and their ability to add value to the income stream for small family farms.
Our ultimate goal is to build food systems that feed themselves. Using practices that mimic natural systems, biological and organic food production allows for the reduction of off-farm inputs in farming, improving water quality and quantity management, sequestering carbon in our soils and reducing the impact that unnecessary use of fossil fuels in industrial agricultural systems has on our environment.
What do you hope to gain from being a member of the Coalition?
VABF is very excited to be part of the Coalition and trust we can add a valuable agricultural voice to the Coalition’s efforts. As part of this partnership we’d like to help raise more awareness about the dramatic differences between harmful, degenerative, chemical-based industrial agriculture, and beneficial, regenerative, organic, biological farming. Due to the pervasiveness of the former, the latter is usually overlooked, and we hope to foster a more informed dialogue about the realities of different farming practices.