Instructor Tony Kleese talks to students at SustainFloyd's pocket-farm workshop.

Instructor Tony Kleese talks to students at SustainFloyd’s pocket-farm workshop.

The new year is still young, but SustainFloyd got off to a running start over the weekend with its “pocket farm” workshop and first event of the 2013 Winter Film Series.

We were shooting for 50 attendees when we first started promoting our pocket-farm workshop — which explores a model that seeks to earn a living for one person farming 1.5 acres — but we quickly realized that based on public response our turnout for this event would be larger.

And we were right: Despite a wet snow that kept some folks from making it down their driveways, more than 160 people attended the pocket-farm workshop. Most were from right here in Floyd County, but we also had large contingents from the Roanoke area and the New River Valley as well as people traveling from as far as Staunton, Bristol, Pamplin (just east of Appomattox) and even parts of North Carolina!

The workshop and subsequent 6-week class are based around a model developed by Tony Kleese of Earthwise Company and designed for Zone 6 on the USDA’s plant hardiness scale. The model uses specially targeted crop-rotation techniques and high-tunnel hoophouses to produce a steady stream of high-value organic crops and meet a proven demand from regional distributors. The model was specifically designed to reduce the barriers of entry to farming in the region, where lack of access to land, labor and capital often prevents potential beginning farmers from getting a start, or experienced farmers from becoming more profitable.

We’re getting lots of positive feedback from those who attended the class, so it seems it was well-received and that folks left rather inspired. We’re getting tons of good feedback.

Meanwhile, SustainFloyd’s screening of “Revenge of the Electric Car” and the ensuing panel discussion drew about 60 people who braved all the weather happening around Floyd. SustainFloyd Director Mike Burton said the community discussion afterward — where almost 40 people stayed until 9:30 p.m. to participate — was one of the best held to this point. The great questions and insights offered by our panel even inspired Mike to go online and investigate how much it would cost to lease an electric car for two years.

We appreciate all the great support from Floyd County and the surrounding communities and hope to continue to provide valuable programs and projects that will be of benefit and interest to people.

If you’re not already a SustainFloyd member, please consider joining for discounts on our events and the latest information on what we’re doing in 2013. You can learn more about joining SustainFloyd by going to our membership page.

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