Innovative Rural Businesses Highlighted at Forum

Loudoun showed why it remains a leader in rural economic development at the 12th annual Forum for Rural Innovation in Winchester, VA.

“This year’s event was very successful,” Loudoun County’s Agricultural Development Officer Kellie Hinkle said after the event. “We always have a large number of familiar faces, but this year I spoke to a lot of people who were first-time attendees, and people who are looking to start new ag-based businesses in the area.”

Solomon Rose was one of those people not long ago, and worked with Jonathan Staples and Dylan Krzywonski to bring a hops processing facility to Black Hops Farm in Lucketts, VA. Rose presented first to the estimated 175 attendees, discussing how local hops production and processing has taken local craft brewing to the next level.

“We’ve received great feedback on the content that was provided,” Hinkle said. “One attendee even suggested that the session on hops processing should have been longer.”

Rose and his partners at Black Hops Farm were also honored with 2016 Innovation Awards.

Molly Kroiz, a Maine native with a degree in marine biology, started a cheese-making business with her husband at Georges Mill Farm in Lovettsville, VA. While discussing their business operation, Kroiz captured the community spirit of the forum.

“We’re the only cheesemakers in Loudoun,” Kroiz noted, “but that could change soon, hopefully.”

Michael Schimmel, a managing member of Pilot Malt House, discussed the region’s renaissance in producing grain for malt. In 2015, Black Hops Farm partnered with the Michigan-based company to launch the largest malt processing facility in the mid-Atlantic.

“The event has always been about presenting the most innovative content related to agricultural production, marketing and product trends,” Hinkle explained.

The forum is a cooperative education effort by the offices of agricultural economic development and Cooperative Extension in Loudoun, Clarke, Fauquier and Prince William counties, Virginia; Berkeley and Jefferson counties, West Virginia; the town of Berryville, Virginia; Blue Ridge Community and Technical College; and the Natural Capital Investment Fund.

The feedback received from attendees speaks to the forum’s value to the region.

“Excellent, as always! Keep up the good work,” read one response, with another stating: “It was good to be among ‘like-minded’ folks to discuss issues, challenges and solutions.”

Agricultural businesses are an important part of Loudoun economic development. We want existing Loudoun companies to thrive and grow, and if your business isn’t in Loudoun already, we’d like to discuss how moving here can contribute to your success. Start by calling Kellie Hinkle at 703-737-8820, or email Kellie today.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.