Virginia State University

Virginia State University Offering Annual Ginger and Turmeric Field Day at Randolph Farm

IN-PERSON WORKSHOP AND FIELD DAY WILL EXPLORE THE MANAGEMENT, PRODUCTION, AND BENEFITS OF GINGER AND TURMERIC

Ginger and Turmeric Field Day: Dr. Razie Rafie and his team of researchers provide information on turmeric & ginger crop production to small farmers in Virginia

PETERSBURG, VA. – Virginia Cooperative Extension is hosting its annual Ginger and Turmeric Workshop and Field Day at Virginia State University’s Randolph Farm on Thursday, October 21, 2021. The event will provide participants with information on how to successfully grow, harvest, pack, and market ginger and turmeric. Experts will present research-based information about the health benefits of ginger. This event is for new and experienced ginger and turmeric growers alike to learn how to better grow and market these crops. 

In 2020, the United States imported 88,000 metric tons of fresh ginger with a total value of $104 million; a 12% increase in imported volume from 2019. Due to its numerous health benefits, the consumption of fresh ginger has increased significantly in the United States.  

At the field day, participants will learn from leading experts about the health benefits of ginger consumption, sustainable production and management of ginger and turmeric, integrated pest management, and how to properly harvest and package these crops.

Presenters include Brian Nelson of Hardywood Brewery in Richmond, VA; Jim Provost of I Love Produce in West Grove, PA; Dr. Reza Rafie, the horticulture Extension specialist at VSU, Dr. Rafat Siddiqui, professor and researcher of food science and food chemistry at VSU, and Dr. Zelalem Mersha, plant and soil science specialist at VSU.

Each presenter will share their knowledge indoors, after which guests will take a trolley to the field for demonstrations.

This workshop and field day will take place from 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at VSU’s Randolph Farm Pavilion. Visit the calendar of events at ext.vsu.edu. to register for this event. Pre-registration is required to attend this event and cost $10 per person. Space is limited is available on a first-come, first-served basis.  

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Jessica Harris at jharris@vsu.edu or call (804) 524-5964 / TDD (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8 am. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

Virginia Cooperative Extension to Host First Ever Mid-Atlantic Urban Agriculture Summit

 

Karen Washington
Karen Washington, Keynote Speaker And Founder Of Rise & Root Farm.

2021 VIRTUAL SUMMIT EXPANDING TO INCLUDE ENTIRE MID-ATLANTIC REGION

PETERSBURG, VA. – The Virginia Cooperative Extension is hosting the first Mid-Atlantic Urban Agricultural Summit, formerly the Virginia Agriculture Summit, virtually from Tuesday October 12, 2021 – Thursday, October 14, 2021. The summit welcomes urban farmers, gardeners, policymakers, government officials, foodies, and anyone with interest in urban agriculture to take part in three days of learning about one of agriculture’s fastest-growing sectors, virtually touring successful urban farms, and networking with others who are passionate about creating healthy communities through urban agriculture.

The Virginia Agriculture Summit was launched five years ago. This year, organizers at Virginia Cooperative Extension have extended it to the entire Mid-Atlantic region to facilitate the sharing of even more knowledge and experiences.

This year’s topics will include:

  • Urban Agriculture and Food Security
  • Innovations in Urban Ag: Business, Technology, and Policy
  • Urban Community Gardening

Keynote speakers include Karen Washington of Rise & Root Farm in New York City, Kristof Grina of Up Top Acres in Washington D.C., and Dr. Gail Myers of Farms to Grow, Inc. in Oakland, Calif.

Washington, a community activist, has lived in New York City all her life and has spent decades promoting urban farming as a way for all New Yorkers to access fresh, locally grown food.

Grina, of Up Top Acres, grew up in the District and studied agriculture in Vermont. He became obsessed with scaling commercial agriculture to the densely populated, built environment of DC. Up Top Acres transforms city rooftops into spaces that produce locally grown food and provide educational opportunities for children and adults alike.

Myers, of Farms to Grow, Inc., earned her doctorate in anthropology from The Ohio State University. A cultural anthropologist, she founded Farms to Grow, Inc. in Oakland where she works with local, national, and international organizations to improve the lives and futures for socially disadvantaged and sustainable small farmers.

“By participating in the Summit, you can learn how urban agriculture can positively impact your community,” says Dr. Leonard Githinji, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist for Sustainable and Urban Agriculture at Virginia State University.

To register for the conference, visit www.ext.vsu.edu/midatlantic-uas. Registration is $25 per person.

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Jessica Harris at jbrown@vsu.edu or call (804) 524-5964 / TDD (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is a partnership of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments. Its programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, military status, or any other basis protected by law.

VSU Offers Mobile Processing Unit Certification Program

Virginia State University’s (VSU) is offering a certification program for its new Small Ruminant Mobile Processing Unit. The program will be held on Saturdays beginning Aug. 28 through Sept. 25 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. to train producers how to use the new unit to process their sheep and goats for market. Only certified producers who have completed the five-module certification program will be allowed to lease and use the unit. 

The certification includes four online virtual sessions that will be held on Aug. 28, Sept. 11, Sept. 18 and Sept. 25. After completing the online sessions, producers must also complete a two-day hands-on training session at Randolph Farm at 4415 River Road, Petersburg, Virginia. The two-day session, which is required for certification, will be offered on Oct. 9-10, Nov. 6-7 and Dec. 4-5. Additional sessions will be added based on participant demand. Participants can select which two-day session they want to attend. The program fee is $100. Registration is required for every participant. To register, visit http://www.ext.vsu.edu/calendar, click on the event and then click on the registration link.

Modules will include mobile processing unit design and usage; sheep and goat harvesting; carcass fabrication; state and federal regulations; marketing your products; and hands-on training on operating the unit. Participants will learn all the steps needed to ensure the equipment operates safely before processing, during processing, humane harvesting, carcass cooling/hanging and fabrication. A certificate of competence will be awarded upon completion of assignment(s), including passing a quiz and demonstrating required butchering and fabrication skills.

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT ATTENDING THIS PROGRAM DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) will follow all current CDC guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 during this program. Additionally, all VCE employees and members of the public attending a VCE public program are required to: 1) wear a face shield or mask over their nose and mouth, 2) stay a minimum of six feet away from others, 3) wash or disinfect their hands frequently, and 4) stay home if they or anyone close to them have experienced any COVID-19 symptoms any time two weeks prior to the program or if they have been knowingly exposed to someone with COVID-19 two weeks prior to the program.

If you have any questions about this event or are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Tina Cabrera at tcabrera@vsu.edu. or call (804) 524-5836 / TDD (800) 828-1120 during the business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

VSU’s Popular Agriculture Field Day Returns

RANDOLPH FARM REOPENS TO SHOWCASE AGRICULTURE IN VIRGINIA

 

Dr. Githinji showcasing the VSU Urban Agriculture Demo farm at the 2019 AgFest Field Day.

After being closed to the public since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Virginia State University’s (VSU) Randolph Farm is finally reopening with its popular Agriculture Field Day.

“COVID highlighted the importance of agriculture to the world, and this field day is an opportunity to showcase how robust the industry is in Virginia,” said Dr. M. Ray McKinnie, dean of the College of Agriculture at VSU. “Nearly everything we eat and wear begins with agriculture, and while most people only think of farming, there are diverse sectors in the industry that positively impact our daily lives.”

The field day will be held July 30 from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the 416-acre research farm at 4415 River Road, Petersburg, VA. Admission is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is required for every participant. To register, visit http://www.ext.vsu.edu/calendar, click on the event and then click on the registration link.

This year’s field day is expanding with a new demonstration site that showcases cattle production. “It is the first time in nearly 30 years that cattle has been a part of a field day at the farm,” said William Crutchfield, director of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Small Farm Outreach Program (VCE –SFOP) at VSU. “As more small farmers and producers are diversifying their farm operations and adding cattle, there’s a need for them to understand best practices for grazing these animals.”

The field day will also feature a broad range of topics and presentations, including managing goats and sheep, cultivating the best vegetables and berries and discovering new ways to prevent plant diseases. Also included is a tour of the farm’s revamped hydroponics and aquaponics production facility. Hydroponics - growing plants in a nutrient solution without soil - and aquaponics - combining hydroponics with aquaculture (growing fish) - are a growing sector of the agriculture industry in Virginia.

If you have any questions about this event or are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Tina Cabrera at tcabrera@vsu.edu. or call (804) 524-5836 / TDD (800) 828-1120 during the business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

Experiences with Extension and Virginia State University prepared alumna for key post at USDA

This wasn’t the original path for Jewel Bronaugh. She didn’t intend to become the deputy secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture and the first Black woman to hold the position. 

An educator by trade, Bronaugh instead wanted to follow in her parents’ footsteps and become a teacher. She wanted to work with people and help them achieve success in the classroom. 

But instead of following their path – she forged her own. Now, she’s not only helping youth achieve success, she helping the entire country.

On May 13, the former dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University and 4-H youth development specialist was confirmed as the deputy secretary of the USDA after being nominated in January by then President-Elect Joe Biden.

“I fully understand the historic nature of this confirmation, along with the responsibilities of my service in this role,” Bronaugh said. “I join thousands of dedicated civil servants at the USDA who work in every state and 100 countries around the world. I know from experience how their work touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. I value their work and identify with their selfless commitment.”

The former commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will face her biggest hurdle yet when she becomes second-in-command at the USDA.

But her roots in Virginia Cooperative Extension and at Virginia Tech’s partner land-grant institution, Virginia State University, helped her prepare to handle everything that awaits in the road ahead.

“Dr. Bronaugh has done exceptional work for the commonwealth, and we have no doubt that she will continue to do so at the federal level. We look forward to working with her and USDA as we address our country’s agricultural, nutritional, and infrastructure needs.” 

—Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine

Land-grants and leadership

Virginia’s land-grant institutions exist to give higher education opportunities to people who otherwise would not have had that chance. It’s the outreach arm that disseminates knowledge to the people. 

“These institutions took a chance on me before I even believed in myself,” said Bronaugh, who earned her doctorate from the Virginia Tech School of Education in 2000. “They gave me the chance to become an administrator. Where would I be without Extension, Virginia State, and Virginia Tech? I have no idea. They’re the ones that pushed me forward and let me stand on their shoulders.”

The Petersburg, Virginia, native got that start when she returned to the commonwealth to be closer to her family after teaching at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. An opening for a 4-H youth development specialist job caught her eye. She had taught high school before, so she knew what it was like to work with youth.

“4-H is an incredible organization for youth that is focused on how to empower young people to become leaders,” Bronaugh said. “From my involvement in 4-H and 4-H camp, there are so many people I know who are successful because of 4-H.”

Ed Jones, the director of Virginia Cooperative Extension, has worked with Bronaugh since she was an Extension specialist. The two continued to collaborate as she rose through the ranks at Virginia State University, Extension’s partner institution. Jones said a large part of the excellent working relationship between the two universities can be traced back to Bronaugh’s tenure as dean of the VSU College of Agriculture. 

“Jewel does not have a big ego, so people warm to her easily, and consequently she can build meaningful and lasting partnerships,” Jones said. “Her style is very authentic and that gives people the space to trust her and know their trust won’t be betrayed.”

Jones said these traits, along with her willingness to listen, make her an excellent leader.

“The value of listening as a leader is incredibly important, and Jewel does it extremely well,” Jones said. “If you are not listening you are not taking in additional perspectives that can help you make decisions better. Leaders who do not listen only hear themselves.”

Throughout Bronaugh’s roles, she has maintained her passion for the people, said M. Ray McKinnie, dean of Virginia State’s College of Agriculture and 1890 administrator.

“To me, her greatest ability is that she understands that there’s a person at the other end of the policy, programs, and program development,” McKinnie said. “We build programs and we design things, but they impact people. She's never forgotten that.”

“As dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University, Dr. Bronaugh inspired many first-generation college students from rural communities to become outstanding leaders in their fields. That is understandable considering her positive, uplifting nature. She speaks respectfully of producers and rural Americans and believes that as a public servant, her job is to find a way to help those who need it. I look forward to working with Dr. Bronaugh to ensure USDA lives up to its calling as the People’s Department, to be a department that serves all people equally and fairly.”

— USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack

Richard Booker, a retired Extension Specialist and assistant administrator for Extension at Virginia State University, worked with her at the university and helped mentor her.

“Jewel has always been significantly concerned about the programing, methodology, involvement, and the results of programing for our clientele, especially the communities of the minority and underserved,” Booker said. “She had a genuine concern for the diversification of small farmers in their production techniques and crops.”

Alan Grant, dean of the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, served on the Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services board with Bronaugh when she ran the board meetings. 

“I’m always so impressed by her leadership style, and I think she is so effective because of her strong interpersonal skills,” Grant said. 

He also said her strong belief in the land-grant system and its inherent ethos of service has been a guiding light throughout her career. 

“I think that those of us who work at land-grant universities are serving society, and that is something that has been part of Jewel’s career,” he said. “I think that the land-grant university experience prepares people well if they want to go work in government because it is all about service. This is a core part of who Jewel is and is one of the many reasons she’s going to excel in this new role.”

An open ear for farmers

Bronaugh honed her leadership skills during the statewide travels with farmers as both an Extension specialist and dean of Virginia State’s College of Agriculture and 1890 administrator. 

During some of these travels, she saw the heart and soul of Virginia’s producers firsthand, and she got to know Robert Mills, who is the 2017 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year, a former member of Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors, and graduate of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. 

At a Farm Bureau convention in Hot Springs, Virginia, Mills opened up to Bronaugh – who was then the commissioner of the VDACAS – about the mental state of farmers in Virginia. It’s a difficult topic that few people want to talk about.

This was at a time where prices were depressed. The economy wasn’t great. There was a constant stream of farms that were going up for foreclosure. The suicide rate of farmers was high.

“We sat down at the couch there in a little atrium room and I poured my heart out to her,” Mills said. “Her response to what I told her about the folks that I love so much here in Virginia was from the heart. It was overwhelming in the sense that she took what I told her, ran with it, and started a farm stress task force.”

Bronaugh’s ability to listen to farmers has led to an increased focus on the vital topic.

Coinciding with the new task force, Virginia Cooperative Extension and professional agency partners conduct and go through training on how to identify critical mental health needs of farmers and farm family members in their communities. This includes agents having much-needed tools for talking to and providing referrals for farmers and family members who may need professional support and health care interventions.

“Sometimes it's sitting down or standing across from a farmer and seeing them cry. Sometimes it's been out of frustration. Sometimes it's been out of joy. They are honest in what they share with me and the help that they need to continue to make the contributions to their communities and their families,” Bronaugh said. “It moves me, and it’s what motivates me to do the work that I do. The decisions that we make impact someone’s life.”

To this end, Bronaugh helped create the Virginia Food Access Investment Fund and Program, a statewide program that aims for equity and justice in underserved food systems in the commonwealth.

Because of her ability to listen to the needs of farmers, they love her, said Rosalyn Dance, a former member of the Virginia Senate and the Virginia House of Delegates.

“She wants to hear what farmers have to say and to find a solution,” Dance said. “That’s why they trust her. They can’t be anything but happy to know that someone they know and who is genuinely concerned with their issues is at the USDA.”

An inspiration for those to come  

In a voice vote, the United States Senate confirmed Bronaugh in May, officially making her the first Black woman and woman of color to serve as the USDA’s deputy secretary and a role model for many.

Bronaugh said she understands the responsibilities that come with a position of this magnitude.

“My job is to represent all people who are clients of the USDA,” Bronaugh said. “But I do understand that my role as a woman and my role as an African American can require me to speak up for people who may feel that they have suffered systemic racism and discrimination. I have a role to play in being a voice and in sharing a perspective, if necessary. I realize that this is part of the responsibility of who I am and what people see in me in this role.”

Through all of her positions and roles in agriculture, Bronaugh continues to be a trailblazer. 

“As the first in Virginia to be a woman, minority and Black in holding the positions that she has held, Jewel should and will continue to be a role-model for African Americans, especially females, and women of all backgrounds,” Booker said.

Dance, who has known Bronaugh since childhood, knows the caliber of her character.  

“She hasn’t changed over the years,” Dance recalled of Bronaugh’s willingness to work hard and the dedication to her family. “She’s done everything the right way. Her confirmation is a promise to African American girls that they too can excel and can reach the highest levels of government in the United States.”

In her new role, Bronaugh will rely on the experiences she had at Virginia State University, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia 4-H, and Virginia Tech in working for all farmers, producers, and rural communities that rely on the USDA. Virginians saw what she can do. Now the United States has this opportunity.

“Jewel’s confirmation is great for Virginia, great for the country, and great for farmers,” Mills said.

VSU Offers Food and Agri-Science Scholarships For Second Year

The College of Agriculture (COA) at Virginia State University (VSU) is proud to offer another opportunity for students to take advantage of the VSU Food and Agri-Science Scholarship Program. Starting May 20, 2021, newly admitted and current VSU students interested in majoring in agricultural degree programs and who meet all scholarship requirements may be eligible to receive a one- or two-year $10,000 scholarship.
 
The VSU Food and Agri-Science Scholarship Program, authorized by the United States Congress in the 2018 Farm Bill, provides students a pathway to career success in diverse fields of agriculture. The scholarship can be used to cover the cost of tuition, room and board, certain fees and books.
 
The College of Agriculture offers three-degree programs: Bachelors of Science in Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences and Hospitality Management. Within those degree programs, students can select from 11 concentrations, inclusive of Agriculture Business and Economics; Textile, Apparel and Merchandising Management; Dietetics and Nutrition; Plant and Soil Science; Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Environmental Science.
 
For more information about eligibility requirements, a complete list of concentrations or to apply, visit https://www.vsu.edu/agriculture/1890-scholarship-program.php. Applications can be completed online here.

 
The number of scholarships is limited and will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until exhausted.
 
Questions about the scholarship can be sent to Dr. M. Ray McKinnie, dean of the VSU College of Agriculture, at mmckinnie@vsu.edu, or Sylvia D. Jones at sjones@vsu.edu.

Empowering Youth to Teach Computer Skills to Adults

Virginia State University’s (VSU) 4-H Program recently received a $141,000 grant to expand efforts to empower teens to teach digital skills to adults.

The National 4-H Tech Changemakers (TCM) program uses a teens-as-teachers approach with teen leaders learning digital skills to teach to adults. The teens become certified Tech Changemakers and work in partnership with their 4-H educators to use prepared lesson plans to virtually teach digital skills to adults in their communities. The lesson plans focus on digital skills that help drive economic opportunity, like using Microsoft Word to create resumes or learning to safely navigate the internet to find job search websites.

Tech Changemakers across the country are expected to reach about 50,000 adults in rural communities over the next year and enable them to use the skills they learn to achieve greater economic opportunity. The TCM program is a collaboration between the National 4-H Council, Verizon, Microsoft, Land O’ Lakes and land-grant universities.

Dr. Chantel Wilson, 4-H STEAM Extension Specialist with the Cooperative Extension at VSU, said that the program not only helps youth become leaders and adults become computer literate, but also helps bridge the technology gap, generational gap and foster greater collaboration between youth and adults.

Localities served include two returning communities in Charlotte and Halifax counties and 16 new communities in Amelia, Bedford, Campbell, Clarke, Gloucester, Greensville, Isle of Wight, Madison, Montgomery, Nottoway, Prince Edward and Rockbridge counties as well as the cities of Bristol, Lynchburg, Roanoke and Salem. The program will also include localities closer to VSU, including Prince George County and the cities of Petersburg and Richmond.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

VSU Offers Free Tax Workshop for Farmers

Virtual Workshop is Planned for Nov. 19

Virginia State University’s (VSU) Small Farm Outreach Program (SFOP) is hosting a virtual “Filing Farm Taxes” workshop for farmers and ranchers. Participants will learn tax management skills for their farming operations. Even if farmers hire a tax preparer to file their farm taxes, there is important information they need to know as producers.
 
The guest speaker is Darrell Tennie, who specializes in agriculture taxes and is founder and chief executive officer of The Tennie Group, LLC in Knightdale, North Carolina. Tennie will share information on farm-related tax topics, including new tax laws and changes, completing Schedule F, recordkeeping, reporting business expenses and deductions, managing enterprise sales, social security management, managing wages and working with nonprofits.
 
The workshop is open to the public, and will be held Nov. 19 from 9:00 a.m. 12:00 p.m. To register, visit http://www.ext.vsu.edu/calendar, and click on the event. YOU WILL RECEIVE YOUR ZOOM MEETING LINK IN THE CONFIRMATION EMAIL. IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE A LINK, PLEASE EMAIL smallfarm@vsu.edu.

 
If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact the Small Farm Outreach Program office at smallfarm@vsu.edu or call (804) 524-3292 / TDD (800) 828-1120 during the business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.
 
Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

 

“BOOTS TO ROOTS” VIRTUAL CONFERENCE IS NOV. 12

Virginia State University’s (VSU) Small Farm Outreach Program (SFOP) and the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) are hosting “Boots to Roots,” a virtual conference to help military veterans explore farming as a second career. The conference will be held Nov. 12 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. It is designed to teach veterans who are new or beginning farmers about resources and grant opportunities available through the USDA and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Participants will also learn about financial planning, creating effective business plans and developing successful farm production practices. A virtual tour of Slade Farms in Surry, Virginia is included.
 
“Whether veterans are thinking about farming or have been farming a few years, there’s a lot of valuable information they can learn about production and about ensuring their operations are profitable and sustainable,” said Tony Edwards, an SFOP agricultural management agent who specializes in helping military veterans and beginning farmers. The conference is open to veterans as well as military personnel who may be considering farming after retirement. To register, visit http://www.ext.vsu.edu/calendar, and click on the event. After registering, a zoom link will be emailed to participants.

 
Keynote speaker for the conference is Willie Hines, chief operating officer of the Farmer Veteran Coalition. Dr. Jewel H. Bronaugh, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, will also present at the conference.
 
Farming is a good career choice for veterans because it allows them to support their communities with the same passion they supported their country, Edwards added. “There’s a need for veterans who farm to come together to collaborate, commiserate, exchange ideas and learn from what others are doing in farming and agriculture.”
 
If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact the Small Farm Outreach Program office at smallfarm@vsu.edu or call (804) 524-3292 / TDD (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event
 
Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

VSU Small Farm Outreach Program Receives $600,000 to Assist Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) recently announced more than $53 million in grant funding across three unique agricultural programs to help U.S. farmers, ranchers and military veterans.
 
USDA-NIFA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) awarded more than $16.7 million in 48 projects to deliver support new farmers and ranchers need. Virginia State University’s Small Farm Outreach Program (VSU/SFOP) was included in the projects, receiving nearly $600,000 to help socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers (SDVFR) in the Commonwealth.
 
This is the second time SFOP has been awarded the grant from USDA-NIFA to help small farmers. It received the grant in 2016 and reapplied in 2019 when funding expired. VSU is one of only four of the nation’s 19 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) established as 1890 land-grant universities to receive the funding, and one of only two HBCUs awarded the maximum funding amount.
 
“We’re grateful for the renewed commitment from USDA-NIFA to support small disadvantaged farmers, ranchers and veterans,” said SFOP director William Crutchfield.  “We will use these funds to continue our training and outreach efforts to help new and beginning famers build successful and sustainable businesses.”
This grant is especially critical in helping to encourage new farmers and ranchers and addressing the decline in Virginia farmers as older farmers leave or retire from agriculture, Crutchfield added.
 
SFOP, which is part of the Virginia Cooperative Extension at VSU, will use a holistic approach to equip socially disadvantaged and veteran beginning farmers and ranchers (SDVBFR) in Virginia with the tools and skills needed for them to make informed decisions in owning and operating successful farm businesses. The approach will include outreach, training and technical assistance to help them with planning, production and marketing.
 
The project will provide education about USDA opportunities, programs and services; farm estate planning and financial planning and management; production techniques to produce high value, profitable crops and livestock; marketing strategies to attract new and existing markets to sell products; and collaborative partnerships to increase capacity and ensure sustainability of farm operations. The project will target 70 Virginia counties, where disadvantaged farmers and ranchers have been traditionally underserved because of barriers, such as high start-up costs; limited access to credit; lack of knowledge on land acquisition and transition; lack of skills in financial planning; lack of production skills; and limited access to existing and viable markets. In a continued partnership with Virginia Tech's Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition (VBFRC), VSU will address these barriers by using the "Whole Farm Planning" curriculum developed by VBFRC as a tool to train farmers.
 
Additionally, USDA-NIFA awarded $9.6 million to help support projects through its Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans Program (AgVets) and $28.7 million to help address farmer stress through its Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN). 
 

 
Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

VSU Agricultural Researchers Awarded More Than $1 Million in Grants

Researchers at Virginia State University’s Agricultural Research Station (VSU-ARS) were recently awarded $1.4 million in capacity building grants (CBG) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Dr. Chyer Kim, Food Scientist at VSU-ARS, was awarded $499,644 on a CBG entitled, “Preparing for the Future: Building Capacity for Food Safety Compliance at Farmers’ Markets.” Kim is principal investigator for the project. Dr. Theresa Nartea, marketing Extension agent with the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) at VSU is a collaborator on the grant along with scientists at Delaware State University (DSU) and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES).

Kim is also a collaborator on a CBG entitled, “Assessments of the Impact of Cryptic E. Coli on Current Water Quality Monitoring and Management,” valued at $435,028. The principal investigator of the project is Dr. Guolu Zheng at Lincoln University. A scientist from USDA ARS is also collaborating on the project.

Dr. Toktam Taghavi, Plant and Soil Scientist at VSU-ARS, is a collaborator on a CBG entitled, “Developing an Integrated Approach to Combat Gray Mold in Strawberries,” valued at $599,905. The principal investigator of the project is Dr. Kalpalatha Melmaiee at Delaware State. Scientists from USDA, ARS, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VT) are also collaborating on the project.

Additionally, Dr. Rafat Siddiqui, Food Scientist at VSU-ARS, was awarded $65,000 from Abbott Pharmaceuticals, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the U.S., to investigate the modulation of vascular function by nutrients.

VSU-ARS director Dr. Wondie Mersie said researchers are grateful for funding to support new and continued research. “These awards will strengthen the research capabilities of VSU’s Agricultural Research Station as we work and collaborate to find solutions to pressing agricultural issues, such as water quality, food safety, shelf life preservation and how nutrients improve vascular function, Mersie said.

For more information about research at VSU-ARS, contact Dr. Wondie Mersie at wmersie@vsu.edu.

Virginia State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, marital status, disability, age, sexual preference, political affiliation or any other bias prohibited by Virginia or federal law. Virginia State University is fully accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, masters and doctorate degrees.

VSU OFFERS NEW AGRICULTURE STUDIES SCHOLARSHIPS

Congressman David Scott Secures Federal Funding for 1890 Land-Grant Agriculture Scholarships

Virginia State University, VA - Virginia State University has announced a new scholarship program specifically for students who major in food and agricultural sciences. The aim of the scholarship program is to help build a highly skilled workforce that aligns with the USDA’s strategic goals of promoting rural prosperity and economic development. The program will provide full and partial scholarships to food and agricultural sciences undergraduate student majors in VSU’s College of Agriculture.

Rep. David Scott (Georgia’s 13th congressional district) introduced the bill with support from other members of Congress. Funding for VSU’s 1890 Scholarship Program comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which recently awarded more than $14 million to provide scholarships at the nation’s 19 historically black 1890 land-grant colleges and universities, including VSU. In fiscal year 2020, each institution received $752,632.

“Virginia State University is grateful for this award that will help us build on our land-grant mission of producing highly educated and skilled professionals to work in the food and agriculture industry,” said Dr. M. Ray McKinnie, Dean/1890 Administrator at the VSU College of Agriculture. He added that nationally there are more career opportunities in food and agriculture than there are graduates to take advantage of the opportunities. “Rep. Scott and USDA have demonstrated our nation’s commitment to cultivating diverse leaders who are equipped to address and solve emerging challenges in these evolving fields of food and agricultural sciences.”

The VSU College of Agriculture offers Bachelor of Science degree programs in three departments: Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences and Hospitality Management. Only students in those programs or who have been accepted to VSU College of Agriculture will be considered for the scholarship program. Among other criteria, students applying for the scholarship must be U.S. citizens, have and maintain a minimum cumulative 3.0 grade point average and intend to pursue a career in the food and agricultural sciences.Additional information and application for the VSU 1890 Scholarship Program can be found at http://www.agriculture.vsu.edu/1890-scholarship-program.php.

Virginia State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, marital status, disability, age, sexual preference, political affiliation or any other bias prohibited by Virginia or federal law. Virginia State University is fully accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, masters and doctorate degrees.

VSU Cooperative Extension Programs Go Virtual

Specialty crop Extension specialist Dr. Reza Rafie conducts research on more than 39 varieties of blueberry bushes at Virginia State University's Randolph Farm in Ettrick. He shares the information he gathers with the public through events like this Thursday's virtual Blueberry Field Walk through Facebook Live

Annual Blueberry Field Walk at university’s Randolph Farm to be delivered through Facebook Live this Thursday, March 26, at 4 p.m. New format allows Extension faculty to reach global audiences, while practicing necessary social-distancing COVID-19 precautions.

To continue providing the public with research-based information that keeps them safe, healthy and informed, Virginia Cooperative Extension is turning to digital methods for public outreach.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is managed through the Commonwealth’s two land-grant universities, Virginia State University (VSU) and Virginia Tech.

VSU Extension faculty are offering their first on-line-only public program this Thursday, March 26, at 4 p.m. through Facebook Live. The annual Blueberry Field Walk will be conducted by specialty crop Extension specialist Dr. Reza Rafie. Facebook Live was selected as the digital platform to conduct this program because: it is accessible to anyone with a smartphone or a computer; participants do not need to have a Facebook account; the public can ask questions in real-time by typing them into the session; and the live program can be recorded, close-captioned and posted on the VSU Cooperative Extension website (ext.vsu.edu) with additional resources on the subject.

During the Facebook Live event Rafie will walk through VSU's Randolph Farm blueberry fields and high tunnel, where a collection of 39 different cultivars are under study. All are different in terms of productivity, time of maturity, plant structure, fruit size, bush size, vigor, etc. This program provides an excellent opportunity to learn about these cultivars and ask questions in real time to help growers decide which ones may be best for their needs.

Blueberry is the fastest growing berry crop in many states including North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Market demand for blueberry continues to grow, and profit potential for growing locally grown blueberry is considerable. One major issue for blueberry growers is the planting of the new blueberry cultivars (varieties) that are becoming available with superior fruit size, taste, color, and pest and disease tolerance.

For more information, or if you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, contact Mark Klingman from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (804) 524-5493 / TDD (800) 828-1120 or mjklingman@vsu.edu 48 hours before the start of the program. A recorded version of the program with close captioning will be available on Rafie’s webpage (https://www.ext.vsu.edu/horticulture) by the end of the following week.

Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

 

 

 

Annual Ginger and Turmeric Field Day Focuses on New Varieties and Health Finding

Dr. Reza Rafie holds baby ginger grown at Virginia State University’s Randolph Farm.

Virginia Cooperative Extension will conduct its Ginger and Turmeric Field Day Thursday, October 24, 2019, at Virginia State University (VSU), Petersburg, Va. The popular annual program will cover both the health benefits of ginger and turmeric, as well as techniques to successfully grow and market it. Participants will also visit VSU’s Randolph Farm, where they will see four new varieties of container and outdoor grown ginger, as well as learn about the harvesting, washing and packing of the crops for market. Additionally, participants will learn about the runaway success story of Richmond’s Hardywood Brewery Gingerbread Stout, which features locally-grown ginger.

Pre-registration is required and costs $20 per person. It includes a boxed lunch.

At the program new VSU research will be announced that confirms immature ginger, or “baby” ginger, contains about twice as many polyphenols and has two to three times more antioxidation activity than the mature ginger found in most grocery stores. “That means if you’re eating ginger for its health benefits,” said Dr. Rafat Siddiqui, associate professor of food sciences at VSU’s Agricultural Research Station, “you may be selling yourself short at the supermarket, which traditionally offers only mature ginger, recognizable by its light brown color.”

Unfortunately for consumers though, 100 percent of the ginger found at the supermarket is imported, largely from Southeast Asia on container ships. From the time it’s packed until it makes its way into our kitchens is usually months. “Baby ginger is more perishable than its older counterpart, which naturally features a papery skin to lock in moisture and freshness,” said Dr. Reza Rafie, horticulture Extension specialist at VSU. “The immature ginger just couldn’t make the voyage.”

So, what’s a health-conscious, ginger-lover to do? Rafie and others at the field day will present solutions that not only hold benefits for consumers, but also for U.S. small-scale farmers, as well.

Since it takes less time to grow and harvest baby ginger (seven to eight months, Rafie explained, compared to commercial ginger, which matures in the ground for about 10-11 months), the tropical plant can grow in regions with shorter growing seasons than Southeast Asia. Rafie explained he and many others have had great success growing baby ginger in pots and in raised beds up and down the East Coast.

“But it’s a crop that must be sold close to home and quickly,” he added. “It’s perfect for those small-scale farmers who sell direct to consumers at farmers markets or through community supported agriculture (CSA) programs or to chefs, who prefer it for its more delicate taste and the fact it doesn’t need to be peeled.”

Presenters at the field day will also discuss the potential profitability of growing baby ginger. Immature ginger is selling this fall for about $5 to $10 a pound, depending on the market, remarked Rafie. Compared with traditional small-scale farming crops like tomatoes or sweet potatoes, which were selling this summer at a Richmond, Va farmers market for $2 and $1.50* respectively, baby ginger can offer farmers the opportunity for greater profits per production area.

He explained that production results at VSU have shown that each ginger plant has the potential of producing three to eight pounds of marketable baby ginger, depending on production techniques, including fertilizer, irrigation, disease management and mounding.

“The market potential is considerable,” says Rafie.

The program will be held in the L. Douglas Wilder Building Auditorium, Carter G. Woodson Avenue on the VSU campus.

For more information, visit the VSU Cooperative Extension calendar of events at ext.vsu.edu and click on the event. If you desire further information or are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Mark Klingman at mjklingman@vsu.edu or

804-524-5493/TDD (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

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Fun, Innovative Summer Leadership Program For Statewide Youth Ages 11-13 at VSU

July 15-18, 2019

Youth ages 11-13 are invited to participate in a 4-H summer leadership program at Virginia State University (VSU) July 15-18, 2019. The iLeadership Institute is a four-day, three-night program on the VSU campus designed to foster leadership skills in middle school-aged children (who are 11-13 any time during the current 4-H year of October 1, 2018 and September 30, 2019). There is an option to attend the program on a daily basis for one or more days. No previous experience with 4-H is required. Youth participating in this program will automatically be enrolled into the Virginia 4-H program free of charge.
 
The highly acclaimed program, now in its second year, features interactive activities that expose youth to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Math) subjects, teach basic marketing skills, and strengthen team-building and networking abilities. Youth will also be introduced to distinguished speakers, learn table etiquette, develop personal action plans, experience what it is like to live on a college campus, and more.
 
Additionally, the iLeadership Institute will enhance the ability of new, current and future 4-H youth to serve in local, district, state and national 4-H leadership roles.
 
Registration for the iLeadership Institute is $300. Youth can also participate on a day-to-day basis, for $100 per day. 4-H members aged age 16-18 with Teen Mentor training can participate as a Teen Counselor for $50. Adult volunteers and 4-H Agents can participate for $25.
 
To register or for more information, visit ext.vsu.edu/4h-ileadership.
 
If you have any questions or are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact the 4-H Program office at jbrown@vsu.edu or call (804) 524-5964 / (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8 am. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.
 
Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. VSU is an equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

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Fun, Innovative Summer Leadership Program For Statewide Youth Ages 11-13 at VSU - July 15-18, 2019

Youth ages 11-13 are invited to participate in a 4-H summer leadership program at Virginia State University (VSU) July 15-18, 2019. The iLeadership Institute is a four-day, three-night program on the VSU campus designed to foster leadership skills in middle school-aged children (who are 11-13 any time during the current 4-H year of October 1, 2018 and September 30, 2019). There is an option to attend the program on a daily basis for one or more days. No previous experience with 4-H is required. Youth participating in this program will automatically be enrolled into the Virginia 4-H program free of charge.

The highly acclaimed program, now in its second year, features interactive activities that expose youth to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Math) subjects, teach basic marketing skills, and strengthen team-building and networking abilities. Youth will also be introduced to distinguished speakers, learn table etiquette, develop personal action plans, experience what it is like to live on a college campus, and more.

Additionally, the iLeadership Institute will enhance the ability of new, current and future 4-H youth to serve in local, district, state and national 4-H leadership roles.

Registration for the iLeadership Institute is $300. Youth can also participate on a day-to-day basis, for $100 per day. 4-H members aged age 16-18 with Teen Mentor training can participate as a Teen Counselor for $50. Adult volunteers and 4-H Agents can participate for $25.

To register or for more information, visit ext.vsu.edu/4h-ileadership.

If you have any questions or are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact the 4-H Program office at jbrown@vsu.edu or call (804) 524-5964 / (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8 am. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. VSU is an equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

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Event to Focus on New, Less-Restrictive Industrial Hemp Laws and the Resulting Opportunities for Virginia’s Agriculture Industry

3rd Annual Industrial Hemp Field Day, Virginia State University, June 25, 2019

VSU’s Dr. Maru Kering (left), the university’s lead industrial hemp researcher, explains to visitors to VSU’s Randolph Farm how different hemp cultivars have fared in central Virginia during a past growing year. 

On July 25, 2019, Virginia State University (VSU) will host its third annual Industrial Hemp Field Day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the university’s Gateway Conference Center, 2804 Martin Luther King Boulevard, Colonial Heights, VA.
 
The event will provide a forum for potential growers, researchers, marketing experts and industrial hemp product users to discuss the future of the crop in Virginia and neighboring states. Attendees will receive an update on the legislation governing industrial hemp production in the Commonwealth of Virginia as well as learn about the challenges and opportunities for cultivating this crop.
 
Speakers will also discuss the wide variety of products derived from industrial hemp. For example, hemp stalks can be used to produce biofuel, paper, upholstery, fiber for cloth and other textile items, building materials, and industrial products. Industrial hemp seeds can be used to produce animal feed and human food as well as serve as a source of oil for lotion and cosmetic products. Industrial hemp flowers can also be used to produce Cannabidiol (CBD) oil for a variety of medicinal uses.
 
Registration is $50 per person for the first 100 registered. It is $65 per person afterward. Registration includes lunch and is limited to the first 400 registrants. To register, visitwww.ext.vsu.edu/industrial-hemp.

During the 2019 General Assembly session, Virginia lawmakers amended the state’s industrial hemp laws to align with language in the 2018 federal farm bill passed by congress last December. They amended the definitions of cannabidiol oil, marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to exclude industrial hemp in the possession of a registered person, hemp products, or an oil containing no more than 0.3% THC. As passed, the bill defines "industrial hemp" as any part of the plant Cannabis sativa that has a concentration of THC that is no greater than that allowed by federal law, and it defines "hemp product" as any finished product that is otherwise lawful and that contains industrial hemp. The bill adds the category of "dealer" in industrial hemp to the existing registration categories of grower and processor.

As a result of these changes, Virginia farmers can now apply to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) for a permit to grow industrial hemp for purposes beyond exclusively for research. VDACS reports that it has experienced a surge in grower and processor applications since December.
 
For more information, or if you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Laverne Morris at lmorris@vsu.edu or (804) 524-5151 / TDD (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five (5) days prior to the event.
 
The 2019 Industrial Hemp Field Day is hosted by the university’s Agricultural Research Station (ARS), part of the university’s College of Agriculture. The ARS is responsible for carrying out the land-grant university’s mission of conducting scientific agriculture and food production research that will increase profitability for Virginia’s small, part-time and limited-resource farmers. Initiatives such as this event help support and grow Virginia’s $91 billion agriculture and forest industry.
 
This event is held in partnership with Virginia Cooperative Extension. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

 

 

 

 

ADIDAS

Statewide Summit to Address Needs, Future of Urban Agriculture in Virginia

4th Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit to be held April 23-25 in Virginia Beach

Photo caption: Curtis Moody, teaches school children about planting and growing at Moody Street Garden. Photo courtesy of Cedric Owens.

Agriculture is increasingly spreading from rural areas into our urban and suburban communities for many reasons, not the least of which includes a growth in the number of people who want their food sourced locally and a need for communities to eliminate food deserts. The United States Department of Agriculture defines a food desert as “…parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas.”
 
Evidence of urban agriculture’s rise in Virginia can be seen in counties like Arlington and Fairfax, which have already established legislation and zoning codes to address urban agriculture. Some communities like Alexandria, Fairfax and Arlington have long waiting lists for community garden spaces. Courses and training programs like Virginia State University’s 12-week Sustainable Urban Agriculture Certificate Program are growing in popularity. And the number of urban farms in Richmond, Hampton Roads and other urban areas across the commonwealth has exploded over recent years.
 
As more farmers get started on vacant lots and rooftops and in shipping containers and other non-traditional urban spaces, conversations about research, policy, safety, land-usage rights and sustainability are on the rise.
 
To address these and other issues pertaining to the growth of Virginia’s urban agriculture industry, the Virginia Cooperative Extension program at Virginia State University, among other partners, is hosting the 4th Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit April 23–25, 2019, at the Founders Inn and Spa, 5641 Indian River Rd, Virginia Beach, Va. Over three days more than 100 urban farmers, gardeners, foodies, ag-tivists, policy makers and government leaders will convene to network and learn about one of agriculture’s fastest growing sectors.
 
“The Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit is an important learning opportunity for anyone seeking more knowledge to grow their own produce, either for personal consumption or for commercial sales,” said Dr. Leonard Githinji, Virginia State University Urban Agriculture Extension specialist. “People of all ages are becoming more focused on their health; they want to reconnect with the earth and learn how to grow vegetables and fruits. Urban agriculture offers a feasible option for these people and is an antidote to food deserts.”
 
Keynote speakers include Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, Virginia’s 16th Commissioner of Agriculture; Duron Chavis, manager of Community Engagement at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond; Shelley Blades, farm manager and executive director of Lynchburg Grows; and Curtis Moody, community garden coordinator of Moody Street Garden of Newport News. Topics covered at the summit will include urban food systems, food deserts, food security, food safety, postharvest handling, food justice, urban environmental issues and urban economic development. Interested parties are encouraged to submit an abstract for an oral, poster or panel presentation for the summit. Visithttps://www.ext.vsu.edu/vuas-abstracts before March 15.

 
Summit registration is $150 and is limited to 150 registrants. The registration cost includes two continental breakfasts, two buffet lunches, a networking dinner reception, and continuous food and drink refreshments throughout much of the summit. An award-winning chef will prepare food sourced from the freshest meats, seafood, as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables from local and regional artisan providers. To register, visit www.ext.vsu.edu/calendar, click on the event and then click on the registration link. 

 
Accommodation is available for $99/night per room until midnight March 24. Visithttps://www.ext.vsu.edu/vuas-conference-venue to book your accommodation or call the hotel at 1-844-382-7378. Registrants calling directly to book a room must ask for the “2019 Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit” room rate.

 
Watch an overview video from the 3rd Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97_O0vUUKPw. Learn more about the first three summits at https://www.ext.vsu.edu/vuas-past-events.

 
For further information or if a person with a disability desires any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, contact Mollie Klein at mklein@vsu.edu or call (804) 524-5964 / (800) 828-1120 (TDD) during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations no later than five days prior to the event.
 
Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. VSU is an equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

 

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Virginia Is Deemed 'Ripe' For Berry Growing

VSU to host conference to assist farmers in growing this niche crop

Virginia is not just for lovers, but for berry growers, too, according Dr. Reza Rafie, Virginia State University (VSU) Extension specialist in horticulture. That’s because after conducting extensive research of berry production across central and southside Virginia, Rafie is confident that Virginia’s climate and soil are well suited to grow strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.

This is good news for Virginia farmers, because national berry sales have increased in recent years due to growing consumer appreciation for the many health benefits that come from eating these succulent fruits. In fact, with U.S. sales totaling $5.8 million annually, berries are the leading produce category purchased by consumers. And that means Virginia farmers—even those with limited acreage—have an opportunity to tap into this market to gain revenue by helping to meet the growing demand for berries. 

Right now, the Commonwealth lags behind southern neighboring states like North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia in berry production. Berry crops are versatile for industrial use in frozen foods and other value-added products and have the potential to create small enterprises and jobs in rural communities. 

To assist Virginia farmers with starting or growing berries for profit, Rafie is organizing the 11th Annual Virginia Berry Production and Marketing Conference, at which internationally renowned berry researchers will share information about berry production and marketing that will help growers be more profitable. This popular annual event, hosted by Cooperative Extension at VSU, will be held Thursday, March 21 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Randolph Farm, 4415 River Road, Ettrick. 

Keynote presenter Dr. John R. Clark, a plant breeder and distinguished professor of horticulture at the University Arkansas, will speak on blackberry varieties. Dr. Clark has developed more than 50 varieties of various fruits and has cooperative breeding activities at several locations in the United States, Europe, Mexico, South America and Australia. Dr. Bernadine Strik, a horticulture and Extension berry crops specialist at Oregon State University, will speak about the basics of blueberry production. Berry experts from North Carolina State University, the University of Georgia, Virginia Tech and VSU, will present on insect, disease and weed management. Dr. Theresa Nartea, VSU’s Extension specialist in marketing and agribusiness, will present on marketing berry crops. 

“New and experienced berry growers will not only learn the latest information about berry production, berry health and marketing strategies, they’ll be able to have questions answered by some of the nation’s leading berry experts, and also network with other growers,” Rafie said. 

Registration is $20 per person and includes lunch. To register, visit www.ext.vsu.edu/calendar, click on the event and then click on the registration link. 

Persons needing further information or have a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, can contact Mollie Klein at mklein@vsu.edu or call (804) 524-6960 / (800) 828-1120 (TDD) during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations no later than five days prior to the event.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. VSU is an equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

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As More Va. Farmers Grow Flowers, VSU’s Cooperative Extension Program Positions Them For Success

Cut flowers—the kind you can pick up at the grocery store or are found on many restaurant tables—is part of the “green industry,” the fastest growing sector in U.S. agriculture and the second most important in terms of economic impact, according to the USDA. “People don’t often think of farmers growing flowers, but the cut flower industry is significant in Virginia,and is often an excellent source of income for farmers with small acreage,” said Susan Cheek, Virginia State University (VSU) Small Farm Outreach Program (SFOP) agriculture management agent. 

To meet the demand for knowledge and training in this growing industry, the SFOP, part of the Virginia Cooperative Extension program at VSU, is hosting its second cut flow growers conference in as many years. The conference is one of close to 200 programs the Cooperative Extension program offers through VSU to assist small, limited-resource, socially disadvantaged and military veteran farmers and ranchers across Va. to own, maintain and operate farms and ranches independently. 

This year’s conference will be held March 13-14 at the Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center, 2371 Carl D. Silver Parkway, Fredericksburg, Va. The theme is “Beyond the Bouquet.” 

“We are excited to host this conference again in 2019. Our 2018 conference reached capacity quickly, and we know that small farmers in Virginia and across the U.S. are extremely interested in learning how to incorporate locally grown flowers and herbs into their farm operations,” said SFOP Director William Crutchfield.

Per acre, flowers are one of the most profitable crops to grow, and they are especially suited to small farm operations. A 2014 University of Wyoming Extension publication indicated specialty cut flowers achieved gross yields as high as $25,000 or $30,000 per acre. At the 2019 Cut Flower Growers Conference, attendees will learn more about the positive results they can get from starting a cut-flower growing operation or adding cut flowers to their current farm products—not only for their profit margin, but for the benefit of human health, insect and wildlife habitat, and the environment.

The two-day conference will bring together new and experienced growers, buyers and representatives from government agencies to help attendees learn how to improve the production and marketability of a cut flower farm business. Local and national growers will explain how to build relationships with wholesale and retail buyers; provide tips for growing and marketing pollinator-beneficial plants and flowers; and share insights about establishing a high tunnel operation to extend the growing season. Participants will also learn how to add value and profit with herbs and medicinals, and see hands-on demonstrations for floral design with native wildflowers and herbs. 

In the opening keynote, Brent Heath, owner of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs in Gloucester, Va., will discuss best bulbs for cut flowers selected for longevity of blooms, ease of harvest and added value of fragrance. In the closing keynote, Dave Dowling will share his experiences and insights from 20 years of cut flower farming and five years as a sales rep and advisor to cut flower farmers. Dowling is employed by New Jersey-based Fred C. Gloeckner & Company, Inc., a horticulture wholesale distributor.

Registration is $150 per person, with a 10 percent discount for groups of three or more. To register, visit www.ext.vsu.edu/calendar, click on the event and then click on the registration link.

Persons needing further information or have a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, can contact the VSU Small Farm Outreach Program office at smallfarm@vsu.edu or call (804) 524-3292 / (800) 828-1120 (TDD) during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations no later than five days prior to the event.

The SFOP provides outreach and assistance activities in production management, financial management, marketing, available USDA farm programs and other areas to increase farm profitability and promote sustainability. It has recently added an additional 10 counties, bringing the total it serves to 74. It has also hired additional agriculture management agents and offers public events across the state. For more information, visit https://www.ext.vsu.edu/small-farm-outreach-program/.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. VSU is an equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

 

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VSU Receives $200,000 From USDA to Help Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers

Virginia State University (VSU) will receive $200,000 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers (SDVFR) in the state. The funding is part of $9.4 million in grants announced on October 12 by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. 

The Small Farm Outreach Program (SFOP), which is part of Cooperative Extension at VSU, supports SDVFR by equipping them with the tools and skills needed to make informed decisions in owning and operating profitable farm businesses.

“We’re grateful for the funding support from USDA. We will use the funding to continue our training and outreach efforts to help socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers build successful and sustainable businesses,” said SFOP Director William Crutchfield.  

The grant money will be used to support an array of the SFOP’s programming such as workshops, conferences, field days and farm tours, as well as the one-on-one training that the SFOP provides to SDVFR located in areas from the Northern Neck to the South West region of Virginia where there is a high concentration of SDVFR. The grant will enable them to provide support to an additional 10 counties in southwest Virginia bringing the total to 74. 

Funds will also be used toward a new high tunnel project that will be completed in early spring 2019 and two mobile demonstration units. Both projects also support training and education of SDVFR. Yet another important SFOP initiative is to create awareness and increase participation by SDVFR in USDA farm programs. 

This USDA funding is available through its Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also called the 2501 Program) managed by the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE). The 2501 Program was created through the 1990 Farm Bill. In a release, Secretary Purdue said, “The 2501 grants ensure veterans and underserved farmers and ranchers are well positioned to start their careers in agriculture and continue to give back to the American people. These resources will help strengthen the American economy and provide assistance for those who need it most.”

VSU’s Small Farm Outreach Program aims to encourage and assist limited-resource, socially disadvantaged and military veteran farmers and ranchers to own, maintain and operate farms and ranches independently, to participate in agricultural programs and improve their overall farm management skills. The SFOP provides outreach and assistance activities in production management, financial management, marketing, available USDA farm programs and other areas to increase farm profitability and promote sustainability. The program provides educational programming in approximately 74 Virginia counties, which have the highest concentrations of limited-resource, socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers in the state. For more information, visit https://www.ext.vsu.edu/small-farm-outreach-program/.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

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SFOP Workshop Will Highlight Benefits of Adding Commercial Rabbit Production to Farm Operations

The Virginia State University Small Farm Outreach Program (SFOP) will host the educational workshop, Pastured Raised Commercial Rabbit Production, on Thursday, November 15 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at VSU Randolph Farm Pavilion, 4415 River Road, Petersburg, Va.

“Through our programs we aim to educate small-scale and limited-resource farmers about different revenue-generating opportunities,” said SFOP Director William Crutchfield. “Rabbit production provides a meat product for revenue while simultaneously allowing producers to reduce the cost of fertilizer and other soil amendments.” 

Attendees will get practical information about Virginia laws for processing and selling rabbit meat. They will learn about barn, cage and processing unit construction, and enhance their knowledge about which rabbit species are best suited for meat. Participants also will learn how rabbit production can become part of a nutrient management plan to efficiently manage waste as a cost-effective, organic soil amendment in the garden and on the farm.

Rabbits convert feed to meat more efficiently than cattle, and have been called the next big thing in pastured livestock. They may be raised for commercial purposes, including meat consumption, as pets and for laboratory use. According to the 2012 U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), there were 13,420 farms with rabbits with an inventory of 400,049 and 852,837 rabbits sold. 

This educational workshop is free and open to the public. Space is limited, so register early. To register, visit www.ext.vsu.edu/calendar, click on the event and then click on the registration link. 

If you need further information or are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact the Small Farm Outreach Program office by email at smallfarm@vsu.edu or call (804) 524-3292 / TDD (800) 828-1120 (TDD) during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations no later than five days prior to the event.

The Small Farm Outreach Program, which is part of Cooperative Extension at Virginia State University, aims to encourage and assist limited-resource, socially disadvantaged and military veteran farmers and ranchers to own, maintain and operate farms and ranches independently, to participate in agricultural programs and improve their overall farm management skills. The SFOP provides outreach and assistance activities in production management, financial management, marketing, available USDA farm programs and other areas to increase farm profitability and promote sustainability. Currently, the program provides educational programming in approximately 64 Virginia counties, which have the highest concentrations of limited-resource, socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers in the state. For more information, visithttps://www.ext.vsu.edu/small-farm-outreach-program/.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

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VSU Welcomes New Hires in 4-H, Forestry and Operations

Virginia State University (VSU) is pleased to announce the addition of three new personnel who have joined Cooperative Extension and the College of Agriculture. Chantel Wilson, Ph.D., has joined as 4-H STEAM Extension specialist, Jerry Bettis Sr., Ph.D., has joined as forestry Extension specialist, and Ronald Howell has rejoined the College of Agriculture as director of Operations Management reporting to Dean M. Ray McKinnie.

“We are thrilled to welcome two new specialists to our Extension family. The addition of Dr. Chantel Wilson will enable us to enhance our capacity to engage youth in agriculture through our 4-H program. Dr. Jerry Bettis will provide expertise to foresters and Virginians interested in trees and forests,” said Dr. McKinnie. “And we are pleased to welcome back Ronald Howell to VSU. He will provide guidance and direction for College of Agriculture strategic operating plans, projects and initiatives.”

 “I’m excited for the chance to ‘give back’ by developing programming to help prepare young people for success in a changing world,” said Dr. Wilson. “Programs such as 4-H can have a tremendous positive influence on the lives of young people. I believe that my participation in a youth agricultural program helped me to develop career aspirations and the skills needed for my success, eventually leading me to become the first person in my family to graduate from college.”

Dr. Wilson earned a Ph.D. in crop and soil environmental sciences from Virginia Tech, and an M.S. in plant pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She intends to work with stakeholders to determine community needs and the skills young people need for success in STEAM fields. STEAM in this instance stands for science, technology, engineering, agriculture and math. “I hope to channel my creativity and passion to develop fun, informative and useful programming based on current research,” she said. “My ultimate goals are to generate interest in STEAM fields, strengthen scientific literacy and to empower youth by showing them how to reach their career goals.” 

Dr. Wilson is also a Virginia certified turf and landscape nutrient management planner. Before joining VSU, she served as urban nutrient management Specialist at Virginia Tech contracted to the Virginia Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, and as a graduate research assistant/teaching scholar at Virginia Tech. Dr. Wilson joins VSU’s 4-H Extension specialist Dr. Maurice Smith, who specializes in youth development, citizenship and leadership development.

Dr. Bettis Sr. expressed his enthusiasm for becoming part of Cooperative Extension’s rich history of educating and training Virginia landowners. “I hope my first accomplishments are to teach and train underserved landowners to seek the services of a consulting forester and use a written contract prepared by a consulting forester when selling timber,” he said. “If each landowner in Virginia does this when selling timber, I would consider my tenure at VSU stellar!”

Dr. Bettis holds a Ph.D. in forestry from North Carolina State University. Before joining VSU, he served as forestry-natural resources Specialist at Tuskegee University, and as early rotation forester and raw materials representative at the Weyerhaeuser Company in New Bern, NC, where he was responsible for fire, vegetation and pest control on approximately 500,000 acres of timberland. 

Ronald Howell, a USDA scholar and VSU alum, said, “I am excited about my new position and to give back to my alma mater and the college that has made a huge impact on my life personally and professionally. Being back at Virginia State University and a part of the College of Agriculture allows me to share my passion for agricultural sciences and work with the faculty members and staff who afforded me so many opportunities as a student and who helped launch my career.”

Howell, who earned his master’s degree in agriculture and Extension education-community development from Virginia Tech, will be integral to the administration of budgets, developing management procedures and implementing new business processes. He will also provide administrative leadership to Randolph Farm and have oversight for the 1890 Facilities Grant Program. And through a partnership agreement, he will serve as a special advisor to the Office of the Secretariat of Agriculture and Forestry to increase land-grant capacity for outreach, student development and build strategic partnerships and initiatives that improve the stability and sustainability of farm and forestland owners in Virginia. Howell has held several positions with USDA and with the Commonwealth of Virginia, each time at a greater level of responsibility.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

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Small Ruminant Health Will Be the Focus of Annual Small Ruminant Field Day

Goat and sheep health is the theme of this year’s Small Ruminant Field Day, which will be held on Friday, September 21, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Virginia State University’s Randolph Farm, 4415 River Road, Ettrick. 

“We hope participants will take away the message that having good healthcare management will result in high-performing animals,” said Dr. Dahlia O’Brien, small ruminant Extension specialist.“They will understand how to identify common health issues, treatments and steps to take in preventing health problems and when to contact their veterinarian.” 

Dr. Niki Whitley, an animal science Extension specialist at Fort Valley State University in Georgia, is this year’s keynote speaker. Dr. Whitley has worked with goats and sheep for 20 years at the University of Missouri, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and North Carolina A&T State University. She earned herPh.D. in animal physiology from Mississippi State University. 

VSU agricultural researchers will also present during the field day. Dr. Michelle Corley will discuss using stinging nettle for deworming and Dr. Eunice Ndegwa will discuss maintaining gut health in pre-weaned kids and lambs. Dr. O’Brien and Amanda Miller, VSU’s herd manager, will conduct hands-on sessions on vaccinations, proper drenching techniques, FAMACHA scoring, body condition scoring and maintaining hoof health. Goat and lamb products will be available for sampling.

Registration is $10 per person and includes lunch. To register, visit www.ext.vsu.edu/calendar, click on the event and then click on the registration link. 

If you need further information or are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Mollie Klein at mklein@vsu.edu or call (804) 524-6960 / (800) 828-1120 (TDD) during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations no later than five days prior to the event.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. VSU is an equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

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VSU Small Farm Outreach Program To Hold Farmer-Buyer ‘Meet Up’

On Wednesday, August 22, farmers and buyers will have an opportunity to “meet up” at Virginia State University’s (VSU) Randolph Farm Pavilion, 4415 River Rd., Petersburg, Virginia. The event will take place begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 3:00 p.m.

Farmers and buyers can participate in a networking session that can lead to sales relationships and open doors for follow-up. No contracts will be signed onsite. There will be a roundtable discussion in which some of the state’s top buyers will share what they’re looking for and answer questions. Representatives from United States Development Agency Rural Development will make a presentation, and there will be a Harmonized GAP Introduction workshop.

Farmers should come prepared with business cards, and a list of products and/or a price sheet. Buyers—including wholesalers, chefs, restaurant owners, grocers and food service directors—should bring business cards and a list of products they wish to source locally.

The event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided. Space is limited, so register early. To register, visit www.ext.vsu.edu/calendar, click on the event and then click on the registration link. 

If you need further information or are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Michael Carter Jr. at (804) 633-9964 or micarter@vsu.edu, or call the Small Farm Outreach Program office at (804) 524-3292 / (800) 828-1120 (TDD) during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations no later than five days prior to the event.

The Small Farm Outreach Program, which is part of Cooperative Extension at Virginia State University, aims to encourage and assist limited-resource, socially disadvantaged and military veteran farmers and ranchers to own, maintain and operate farms and ranches independently, to participate in agricultural programs and improve their overall farm management skills. The SFOP provides outreach and assistance activities in production management, financial management, marketing, available USDA farm programs and other areas to increase farm profitability and promote sustainability. Currently, the program provides educational programming in approximately 64 Virginia counties, which have the highest concentrations of limited-resource, socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers in the state. For more information, visit The SFOP website.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

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VSU Offers Two Introduction to Quickbooks Sessions

The Small Farm Outreach Program (SFOP) at Virginia State University is holding two Introduction to Quickbooks sessions. The first will be held on Thursday, July 29 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and the second will be held on Thursday, July 12 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Both sessions will be held at Virginia State University’s Singleton Hall, Room 304.

Participants will learn how to create invoices and sales receipts, to enter and pay bills from vendors and download bank and credit card transactions directly into Quickbooks. They will also learn how to export reports so they can be used in Excel.

The session is free. Seating is limited to 20 per session. To register, visit www.ext.vsu.edu/calendar.

For more information, or if you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, contact Michael Carter Sr. at mcarter@vsu.edu, (804) 481-1163/TDD (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Interim Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

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June Declared Virginia Berry Month


 

June has been officially recognized as Virginia Berry Month. On June 7, a formal proclamation issued by Governor Ralph Northam was read aloud by Bettina Ring, Virginia secretary of agriculture and forestry, at the USDA Field Day held at Virginia State University’s (VSU) Randolph Farm.

 

Hundreds of berry farms across the state grow strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. More than 6 million pounds of berries are produced each year, which have an estimated value of $8 million in farm income.

 

“This recognition is important for Virginia’s berry growers,” said Dr. Reza Rafie, horticulture Extension specialist at VSU. “Berry growers across the commonwealth work earnestly to grow robust, tasty and nutritious berries for consumers. To have this recognition from the governor is incredible.”

 

The proclamation declared, “Virginia Berry Month recognizes berry producers’ stewardship of Virginia’s farmland, their positive environmental and economic impacts, and appreciates the social and cultural significance that berry production provides to the Commonwealth.”

 

You can read the proclamation at: https://bit.ly/2MqgvTw

 

Founded in 1882, Virginia State University is one of Virginia’s two land-grant institutions and is located 20 minutes south of Richmond in the village of Ettrick.

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Sabra and VSU Tackle Food Security Issues Through Construction of Urban Garden at Ettrick’s Summerseat Property

Monday, June 11, about 15 Sabra Dipping Company employees joined staff and faculty at Virginia State University (VSU) to build the first phase of the Summerseat Urban Garden Project. The project is an initiative of VSU’s Sustainable and Urban Agriculture Cooperative  Extension Program and part of Sabra’s Plants with a Purpose program, which addresses the needs of communities living in food deserts.  

The Summerseat Urban Garden Project is designed to transform the 2.2-acre historic land parcel known as Summerseat into a food and agricultural hub to address food security issues within local schools and communities, enhance nutrition and food education, and bring people together. Summerseat is located on the VSU campus at the corner of Chesterfield Avenue and River Road, across from Ettrick Elementary School and next to VSU’s Multipurpose Center.

The volunteers, who also included several members of the Ettrick community, constructed 10 raised bed gardens that included shorter ones accessible to children and those in wheelchairs and waist-high beds, providing easy access for those who find it difficult to bend over. The beds will hold a wide variety of crops throughout the growing season. The purpose of the raised beds gardens is twofold: to teach members of the community how to successfully grow their own healthy food, as well as to harvest the crops for donation to food distribution centers for residents in and around Ettrick who have low access issues to fresh and nutritious food.

Later phases of the Summerseat Urban Garden Project may include a certified kitchen, nutrition and cooking classes, the development of a historical museum within the Summerseat building and K-12 educational programs

Four years after publishing the ground-breaking study, ‘Food Deserts in Virginia,’ VSU continues to identify ways to raise awareness of the commonwealth’s food security issues and to provide fresh, affordable food to all residents. Sabra Dipping Company shares a similar commitment and believes that everyone should have ready and affordable access to fresh fruit and vegetables. Both entities are confident that together they will be able to create a recreational, historical and productive green space at Summerseat that will provide maximum benefits to the public.

In addition to the Summerseat collaboration, Sabra is providing tuition assistance for students of VSU’s Sustainable Urban Agriculture Certification Course, which aims to increase competence and marketability for a career in urban agriculture. Students will have an opportunity to apply their skills in Sabra’s 340-square-foot employee workshare garden installed on the Sabra campus in Colonial Heights.

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Sabra’s Plants with a Purpose to support Virginia State University’s Summerseat Urban Garden Project and Urban Agriculture Certification

Colonial Heights, VA, June 07, 2018— As an extension of its Plants with a Purpose program, Sabra Dipping Company, LLC (Sabra) will partner with Virginia State University (VSU) to assist in the development of an educational urban garden at Summerseat.  The Summerseat Urban Garden Project will transform a 2.2-acre historic land parcel into a food and agricultural hub designed to address food security issues within local schools and communities, enhance nutrition and food education, and bring people together. Sabra’s Plants with a Purpose initiative was launched as a pilot in late 2016 to address the needs of communities living in food deserts.  Richmond, VA has been called the largest “food desert” in America.

“We believe everyone should have ready and affordable access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Eugenio Perrier, Sabra’s Chief Marketing Officer. “The most meaningful way to create change is through hands-on, community driven collaboration. Through Plants with a Purpose, we aim to bolster the efforts of local partners who are literally planting seeds for the future. The Summerseat community garden will bring together neighbors of all ages to create fresh connections and draw sustenance from the ground.”

“Four years after publishing the ground-breaking study, ‘Food Deserts in Virginia,’ VSU continues its commitment to raise awareness of the commonwealth’s food security issues and to identify ways to provide fresh, affordable food to all residents,” said Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, the former Executive Director of VSU’s Center for Agricultural Research, Engagement and Outreach. “We are grateful that Sabra Dipping Company shares a similar commitment, and we’re confident that together we will be able to create a recreational, historical and productive green space at Summerseat that will provide maximum benefits to the public.”

In addition to the Summerseat collaboration, Sabra is providing tuition assistance for students of VSU’s Urban Agriculture Certification Course, which aims to increase competence and marketability for a career in urban agriculture. Students will have an opportunity to apply their skills in Sabra’s 340 square foot employee workshare garden installed on the Sabra campus in Colonial Heights. 

“This collaboration with VSU’s Summerseat Urban Garden Project enables us to build on our efforts to enhance access of fresh foods in communities where we work and live,” said Chandler Gotschlich, Sabra’s Associate Director Marketing Global Brands and Plants with a Purpose team lead.  “VSU has been instrumental in bringing awareness to the needs of the local community and creating public private partnerships to help fill in the gaps. We are thrilled to be involved in these efforts and look forward to playing a long-term role.”

Last year VSU received from former Gov. Terry McAuliffe the inaugural Outstanding State Stewardship Award for its preservation of Summerseat, an historic house built around 1860 near present-day VSU. A one-room house with modest Italianate detailing and a raised brick basement, Summerseat is among the last remaining dwellings of Ettrick, a small African-American community established along the Appomattox River in the mid-19th century. Its name is derived from local lore, which says that the structure previously served as a county judge’s courtroom during the summer months. Both Summerseat and Ettrick are eligible for listing in the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.

“Food deserts,” as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), are neighborhoods and towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, affordable food (specifically fruits and vegetables). It is estimated more than 23 million Americans live in impacted areas.  At least 17 percent of Virginia’s population is affected by limited food access or food deserts.

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VSU To Hold Fish Cage Building Workshop

On June 14, 2018, Virginia State University (VSU) is holding a fish cage-building workshop from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Randolph Farm Pavilion, 4415 River Rd., Petersburg, Va.

This workshop will appeal to anyone with a farm pond who is interested in raising fish in cages for profit or personal consumption. Participants will learn the basics of cage aquaculture and how to construct a fish cage. Cage-building materials will be provided, but participants should bring leather gloves, tin snips, a tape measure, cutting pliers and protective goggles.

Dr. David Crosby, Dr. Brian Nerrie and Dr. Louis Landsman will make presentations at the workshop.

The workshop is free and open to the public. Space is limited, so register early. To register, visit www.ext.vsu.edu/calendar, click on the event and then click on the registration link. 

If you need further information or are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact David Crosby at dcrosby@vsu.edu, (804) 712-3771. Please contact Mrs. Debra B. Jones at dbjones@vsu.edu, (804) 524-5496 during the business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations no later than five days prior to the event.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

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