The Conference Program

Basic Schedule

See the Schedule-at-a-Glance to see the full program in a chart format.

  • Tuesday, March 1: Opening reception (evening) at 6:30. Registration opens at 2:00 pm
  • Wednesday, March 2:  Full day tour via charter bus. Registration 7:00-7:45 am, buses load at 7:45 am, depart at 8:00 am
  • Thursday, March 3: Educational sessions and trade show all day. Registration and trade show 7:30-9:00. Opening session 9:00 am.
  • Friday, March 4: Educational sessions and trade show, 8:30-12:30 pm. Optional post-conference tour  1:30-3:00 pm

(Also see information about the Virginia Beach Strawberry School and Field Walk, February 29-March 1, at the bottom of this page)

Tuesday, March 1

2:00-7:00 pm Registration, at the Williamsburg Lodge

6:30-9:00 pm Opening Reception “Horticulture in Early Williamsburg” – Rollin Woolley, Colonial Williamsburg

Wednesday, March 2

7:00-7:45 am Registration, at the Williamsburg Lodge

8:00 am-7:30 pm Conference Tour. Travel will be by chartered bus; space on the tour is limited by seats available. Buses load at 7:45 am. Lunch, dinner and beer tasting are included in the fee. 

  • Berry Research at Virginia State University, in Petersburg, including variety trials and high tunnel production
  • Agriberry Farm in Hanover. The farm raises blackberries and raspberries and has a multifaceted marketing program that includes farmers markets, CSAs, on-farm processing, and wholesale.
  • Relay Foods, an innovative farm-to-fork delivery service.
  • Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond, an outstanding craft brewery that uses berries from Agriberry in several seasonal brews. We’ll enjoy a tour of the brewery, sampling, and dinner at this last stop of the day. (Note; there are some people who would like to get back earlie and skip the Breweryr; we will work to send a van/bus/carpools back early if there is enough interest.

8:00 pm – Hospitality Room open for informal discussion & refreshments

Thursday, March 3

7:30-9:00 am Registration, Continental Breakfast in exhibit area. Trade show & posters open all day

9:00-10:30 General Session 

  • Grower Spotlight – Joey & Jeff Cole, Cole Berry Farm, Vernon Hill, VA
  • “Communicating berry health benefits” – Dave Stuart, Food & Nutrient Impact, LLC, Hershey, PA

10:45-12:25 Concurrent Sessions (Three rooms. Attendees may switch between tracks.)

Pest & Disease (Room 1)

  • Reducing reliance on insecticides to manage Spotted Wing Drosphila (SWD) – Hannah Burrack, NC State University
  • Developing an attract and kill system for SWD – Tracy Leskey, USDA -ARS
  • Mold mayhem in mid-Atlantic fall raspberries – Cassandra Swett, University of Maryland

Tunnels/Large pests (Room 2)

  • Raspberry production in high tunnels – Eric Hanson, Michigan State University
  • Risk factors and management strategies for bird damage in fruit … and dealing with other critters – Katherine Lindell, Michigan State & Jeffrey Rumbaugh, USDA APHIS

Workshop: Fundamentals of Raspberry and Blackberry Production (Room 3)   

  • From site selection and planting through production and harvest Coordinated by Allen Straw, Virginia Tech; multiple presenters

12:30-2:00 Lunch and NARBA Annual Meeting. “A lifetime in berries” Charlie O’Dell, retired VA Tech extension specialist and grower

2:15- 4:10 Concurrent Sessions (Three rooms. Attendees may switch between tracks.)

Production (Room 1)

  • Nutrient management of primocane- and floricane-fruiting raspberry and blackberry– Bernadine Strik, Oregon State University
  • Pruning & training primocane fruiting blackberries – Fumi Takeda USDA-ARS
  • Broad Mite Update (presenters TBD)

Marketing/Economics (Room 2)

  • Influencing eaters: Reaching out to food writers, chefs, and consumers — Dave Stuart, Jerry Fields
  • Adding Value: Managing a Farm Bakery and/or On-Farm Processing  Roundtable

Workshop: Fundamentals of Raspberry and Blackberry Production (Room 3)

  • A continuation of the morning workshop. 

4:15-5:15 Concurrent Session Research Presentations (Room 1) and Roundtable Discussions (Rooms 2, 3, 4)

  • Growing old and wiser: succession planning and more
  • Starting a Berry CSA
  • Young Growers Gathering

If you are interested in leading an additional discussion, contact the NARBA office.

5:15 Discussion: Proposal for a Blackberry Research & Promotion Program

6:00 Dinner on your own

8:00 – Hospitality Room open for informal discussion & refreshments

Friday, March 4

7:30-8:30 am Registration, Continental Breakfast, Williamsburg Lodge. Trade show & posters open all morning

8:30-10:00 am General Session

  • Virginia-grown: How we manage, harvest and market our berries – Panel of Virginia growers Bill Sembello, 3 Birds Berry Farm, Blacksburg, VA, Sam Brown, Crooked Run Orchard, Purcellville, VA
  • Smarter Farming With Smart Systems: Drones and More — Sonny Ramaswami, Director USDA National Institute for Food and Farming NEW! 

10:05-12:00 Concurrent Sessions (Four rooms. Attendees may switch between tracks.)

Varieties (Room 1)

  • Raspberry Varieties: Let’s Talk Flavor – Courtney Weber, Cornell University
  • Reports on Blackberry Variety Trials – Reza Rafie, Virginia State University, Jayesh Samtani, Virginia Tech
  • Black Raspberry Breeding Update – Christine Bradish, NC State University
  • Early reports on primocane-fruiting black raspberries – Peter Tallman, developer of Niwot; Courtney Weber, Cornell; growers

Technical Showcase(Room 2)

  • Going High Tech: Berry growers experiences  Discussion
  • New products and tech updates from our exhibitors

 Food Safety (Room 3)

  • FSMA Update: What You Need to Know about the Final Rule – Fred Finney, Moreland Fruit Farm, NARBA vice-president
  • Workshop: Create a food safety plan for your farm – right here, right now – Megan Shoenfelt, food safety auditorand raspberry grower

Virginia Berry Growers Association sessions (Room 4)  (open to all) 

  • Options for organic blackberry production – Gerard Krewer, University of Georgia (ret), Harriet’s Bluff Farm
  • Blueberry production for Virginia and nearby states – Gerard Krewer, University of Georgia (ret), Harriet’s Bluff Farm
  • The next steps for the Virginia Berry Growers Association – Discussion

12:00-12:30 Closing General Session Questions and thoughts for the future (Panel Discussion)

Post-Conference Options

1:30-3:00 Williamsburg Gardens Tour – A member of Colonial Williamsburg’s landscape staff will familiarize you with their efforts to maintain and preserve the gardens during this walking tour in the Historic Area.  Guests will see how gardens reflected the wealth and status of people living in 18th century Williamsburg and how archaeological and historical documentation are used to recreate the gardens today.  Plant identification will also be included. $15/person for 10-20 people, must be pre-registered.

1:30-3:00 Taste Studio Workshop – Join Chef Travis Brust of the Williamsburg Inn for a demonstration and tasting of two very different recipes using two very different berries: Lemon-Thyme Raspberry Spoon Fruit on Biscuits then a Butternut Squash and Blackberry Tart Tatin with Fresh Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream, as well as a discussion of berry culinary trends. The Taste Studio is right next to the Williamsburg Lodge.  $24/person for 10-30 people, must be pre-registered.

Also: Consider signing up on your own for a tour of the Williamsburg Winery. It is is nearby and offers several tour/tasting options and you can choose a time convenient for you.

Pre-Conference Opportunity

The Virginia Beach Strawberry School and Field Walk will be held February 29 and March 1.(Field Walk on February 29, and Strawberry School and trade show on March 1). Come early to take advantage of this opportunity to learn about plasticulture strawberry production and network with some excellent growers. Information and registration: Virginia Beach Strawberry School and Field Walk

Please Note:

  • Schedule is subject to change. This site will be updated. Check the on-site program for the most detailed and accurate schedule information.
  • Not all presenters are listed here, as some are still being confirmed. Some presenters will speak in additional sessions besides the one with which they are associated here.
  • Concurrent Sessions: Attendees may switch between tracks of concurrent sessions, though breaks between topics may not line up perfectly.
  • Workshops are at no extra charge. However, pre-registration is requested to aid planning.