Produce auction expands economic avenues for farmers

Participants in a produce auction.

The Extension initiative to create a produce auction in Southside Virginia has been a boon to local producers.

Marketing fruits and vegetables used to be a challenge in Southside Virginia. A lack of outlets for farmers to get their produce to market limited the amount that could be sold, which diminished farmers’ profits.

The solution? A produce auction was born in 2012 with assistance from Virginia Cooperative Extension to help farmers sell products and decrease the amount of time they spent manning markets and roadside stands.

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Extension brings healthy cooking classes to Hispanic families in Charlottesville

Hispanic family learns safe cooking techniques.

Families in Ian Pasquarelli’s healthy cooking classes learn about the importance of preparing balanced meals using fresh fruits and vegetables.

When Habitat for Humanity suggested that Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent Ian Pasquarelli’s programs would be of interest to the mainly Hispanic community of Southwood in Charlottesville, he set about developing a Spanish-language component to incorporate into his programming.

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Two Virginia regions selected for Stronger Economies Together initiative

U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and Virginia Cooperative Extension have announced that two Virginia regions were selected for the 2015-16 Stronger Economies Together (SET) initiative.

The Eastern Shore, consisting of Accomack and Northampton counties and Tangier Island, and the Mount Rogers Planning District, made up of Bland, Carroll, Grayson, Smyth, Washington, and Wythe counties and the cities of Bristol and Galax, will benefit from a focused initiative to explore regional economic advantages and to formulate economic blueprints for the regions.

“The regions’ economic blueprints will strategically build on the current and emerging economic strengths,” said Basil Gooden, state director of USDA Rural Development for Virginia.   “Both Virginia regions have tremendous potential for economic growth. The SET planning process will facilitate key discussions resulting in a high-quality economic plan that works in partnership with the great natural resources of both areas.”

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Virginia 4-H’ers compete at National 4-H Forestry Invitational

Virginia was one of 14 state teams that competed in the 36th annual National 4-H Forestry Invitational from July 26 – 30, 2015. Teams from Tennessee, New York, and Alabama placed first, second, and third respectively. Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina, and West Virginia were also represented at this year’s Invitational.

The invitational was held at West Virginia University Jackson’s Mill State 4-H Camp and Conference Center near Weston, West Virginia. The event is sponsored by Farm Credit System, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc., Society of American Foresters, West Virginia University Extension Service, USDA Forest Service State and Private Southern Region, Southern Region Extension Forestry, American Forest Foundation, and Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals.

Virginia 4-H Forestry Team standing by Jackson" Mill 4-H Camp sign

The Virginia 4-H Forestry team from left to right: Hunter DeShazo, Damien Prater, R. Darryl Holland (Coach), Jacob Winn, and W. Austin Brinegar

While at the Invitational 4-H members competed for overall team and individual awards in several categories. Events included tree identification, tree measurement, compass and pacing, insect and disease identification, topographic map use, forest evaluation, the forestry bowl and a written forestry exam.

Virginia was represented by W. Austin Brinegar and Damien Prater both from Spencer, Hunter DeShazo from Ridgeway, and Jacob Winn from Martinsville. The team was coached by R. Darryl Holland from Ridgeway.



Skelton 4-H welcome center named in honor of T. Marshall Hahn Jr.

Hahn Welcome Center Building

The Hahn Welcome Center at the W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center at Smith Mountain

The welcome center building at the W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center at Smith Mountain Lake has been named in honor of former university president T. Marshall Hahn Jr., during whose tenure the center was founded.

A dedication ceremony for the Hahn Welcome Center will take place at 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14 at the 4-H Center, located at 775 Hermitage Road in Wirtz.

“I’m honored and humbled by this naming,” Hahn said. “The amazing growth and success of this center is a credit to generations of dedicated administrators and generous volunteers. Since this center’s earliest days, it has been a shining example of how we fulfill the outreach component of Virginia Tech’s land-grant mission.”


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