🚀 lunch. learn. lavender. Come celebrate Delmarva agriculture at producers unveiled 2024! 🌱

CAIC in the Community: The 2024 Future Harvest Conference


For the CAIC team, the 2024 Future Harvest Conference was a perfect opportunity to get the new year started right. With a theme of “Nourish & Flourish From the Ground Up,” the event brought together more than 300 attendees from the Delmarva agricultural industry. Here are five of our Future Harvest highlights.

1: Turning ideas into profits  


More than a dozen pre-conference participants got a preview of an upcoming CAIC program, From Ideas to Profits: Developing Successful Value-Added Products, on Thursday. Starting on February 20, CAIC instructors Al and Catherine Renzi—who founded and sold a successful cheesemaking business—will teach agricultural producers how to turn the commodities they’re growing into commercially viable products in a six-week workshop. (The program is free, and still has a few spots open; you can learn more and register for it here.)

Value-added products workshop


Al and Catherine previewed their program for pre-conference attendees, who worked in teams of four to brainstorm, develop, and begin building new value-added products through a series of exercises. 

Value-added workshop presentations


Interested in creating your own value-added product? Sign up for the full, free six-session workshop series!

2: A sneak peak of AgriBiz Hub 


CAIC program director Emiliano Espinosa gave conference attendees a preview of our new on-demand training and networking platform, AgriBiz Hub, during one of Friday’s keynote sessions. Designed for Delmarva farmers and producers at all stages of business growth, AgriBiz Hub has three main capabilities:


The platform will have three main capabilities: 


  • Learn new skills on your own time with interactive content from CAIC courses. From strategies for growing farmers market sales to tips on creating the perfect marketing plan, you can choose the modules that interest you most. There will also be a user-friendly library of essential checklists and templates to support you as you work toward your goals.
  • Connect with fellow farmers, producers, and manufacturers. Through discussion boards, forums, and other community features, members can collaborate with and learn from dozens of other entrepreneurs in the Chesapeake region. Create a user profile to share more about what you’re looking for, and lend your own expertise to others.
  • Grow your network and tap into valuable resources with our comprehensive online directory of regional agriculture organizations and service providers. Search for what you’re looking for, and filter out what’s less relevant. From funding opportunities to guidance on policies, you’ll find more of what you need to take your company to the next level.


You can watch a video of the presentation here. The great news: AgriBiz Hub is now open for users to join! It’s free, too, so head over here to register and join the conversation. 

3: Connecting with community members 


CAIC’s table, where members of our team answered questions and shared information with attendees, was a popular destination throughout the conference. (It also gave us another chance to show off our beautiful new logo.) Best of all, we got the chance to meet and hear from dozens of Delmarva farmers and producers. 


“I loved seeing and speaking with all the farmers who were so passionate about growing and sustaining their land for the future,” CAIC social media manager Pam Foulke said. “I loved being able to talk with them about what we do and how we can help!” CAIC program manager Amanda Kidd, who staffed our table, echoed that, adding that she enjoyed “getting to share our programs with people.” That includes our newest additions: the Emerging Business Program and From Ideas to Profits: Developing Successful Value-Added Products. Check out our website for more information on them!

CAIC table at Future Harvest 2

4: Feedback from farmers


As an organization that’s dedicated to serving Delmarva-area farmers and value-added producers, we’re always looking for new opportunities to hear about how we can help. We got another chance to do that on Saturday, when CAIC’s Kimberly Raikes held a special listening session for farmers; over the course of an hour, participants shared some of their current needs, challenges, and questions. Look for answers to some of those questions in our next CAIC Bites newsletter, and also be on the lookout for future listening sessions in the area. 

5: Surprise chickens 


Finally, who doesn’t enjoy hanging out with some birds? A few very special guests made an appearance at a Friday conference workshop (“Pickin’ Chickens: Breeding and Buying for Farm Flock Success”) on chicken breeding. 



The chickens were a highlight for Pam, and a fun addition to the conference! 


Be sure to follow us on social media and sign up for our newsletter to find out where CAIC will be going next. We’re always looking for new opportunities to connect with farmers and producers in the region, too, so please send us an email if you’d like to share an event!  


Want to stay up to date with the latest news from Chesapeake Agriculture Innovation Center? Subscribe to our e-newsletter! We share news and updates once a month related to the CAIC ecosystem. 


Mini-Grants up to $5,000 are available for:
– Market Research and Validation of Target Market
– Customer Acquisition
– Product Development Initiatives
– Food Safety Classes
Value-added producers and companies with traction ($20,000 or more in yearly revenue) in Maryland and Delaware are eligible to apply for Mini-Grants. Participants may apply once for each of the categories. Applicants must demonstrate that they have a unique and differentiated product or service that incorporates an aspect of innovation or technology in its production, processing, distribution, or other element of the food supply system.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Award decisions will be made and funds will be available no later than three weeks following the receipt of a completed application.
Application Process
Applicants must submit Mini-Grant proposals by filling out the form at this link. Copy(ies) of quote(s), proposal(s), estimate(s), or any other supporting documents.


CAIC offers access to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who can offer authoritative advice based on their deep knowledge and experience in a specific area. See the ADVISORS page of this Web site to learn more about the SMEs who are available to CAIC participants.

Date and Time of Session: Wednesday, October 20th; 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM
Course Description: This presentation discusses strategies for B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) growth via marketing and sales. The presentation focuses on each company’s plans to diversify its revenue streams by using e-commerce, exporting, and overall customer acquisition tactics to support and enhance brand awareness.
Desired Prerequisite Knowledge and Experience of Attendees: There are no prerequisites for this Virtual Presentation.
Criteria for Acceptance into the Virtual Presentation: Attendees need to have a product-based business; this is not suited for technology and/or app companies.