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News Release



Eight West Virginia projects will share $217,000 in Specialty Crop Block Grant funds in 2013. The program is administered by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

West Virginia’s $271,000 funds will come from the federal program whichwill provide $101 million in grants to support America's specialty crops farmers, who produce fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and other non-commodity food items.

Approximately $55 million of the $101 million will be invested in 56 specialty crop block grants to states to fund 748 initiatives across the country that strengthen markets and expand economic opportunities for local and regional producers. An additional $46 million will go to support new and continuing research and extension.
“This program has been a great benefit to West Virginia’s farmers,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Gus R. Douglass. “For many years, federal support went mainly to states involved in commodity crops – corn, wheat and soybeans. Now some of that attention is being focused on local food production.”

West Virginia projects for 2013 include:

Recipient: The Center for Sustainability Studies at Davis & Elkins College
Project Title: “Randolph County Edible Park Program”
This project will create a low-maintenance, high-yield, permaculture-based public park. The space will provide an opportunity for nutrition education, introduce 4-H members to fruit, nut and berry production, and eventually provide a nutritional supplement for low-income residents who would not otherwise have access to fruits and nut species.

Recipient: West Virginia Eastern Panhandle Beekeepers Association
Project Title: “Bee Active in Youth”
This project will fund a six-week educational and mentoring program for 12 youth in three Eastern Panhandle counties. The program is intended to increase interest in beekeeping and will include the basics of beekeeping, a designated mentor, protective clothing, a basic tool kit and a fully functional beehive for participants to care for and maintain.

Recipient: West Virginia University Research Corporation
Project Title: “UV Treatment of trout effluent to improve food safety of salad greens produced in a cold flowing water aquaponic system”
Investigators will measure amount of coliform bacteria in an aquaponic system – which uses nutrient-rich fish water to fertilize plants – and determine if treating the water with ultraviolet light is an effective strategy to improve food safety of lettuce grown in the system.

Recipient: Downstream Strategies
Project Title: “Ronceverte Community Garden”
Downstream Strategies will collaborate with the Ronceverte Development Corporation to design and build the Ronceverte Community Garden. The garden will be located within the city on the site of a former city-owned swimming pool at Island Park, providing one-third of an acre for the production of specialty crops.

Recipient: Williamson Redevelopment Authority
Project Title: “Buy Local in Mingo County”
The Williamson Redevelopment Authority “Buy Local in Mingo County” project will enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops by improving the quality of Mingo County Orchard fruits through Integrated Pest Management techniques. Fruits will be sold locally at the Williamson Farmers’ Market.

Recipient:  Morgan County Association for Food & Farms (MCAFF)
Project Title: “Morgan County Specialty Crop Education and Marketing Initiative”
This project will promote business and production skills development for existing and new specialty crop producers in Berkeley, Jefferson, Hampshire and Morgan Counties, increasing the supply of locally produced specialty crops at farmers’ markets, CSAs, farm stands, schools, hospitals, restaurants and other retail outlets.

Recipient: Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department
Project Title: “Mid-Ohio Valley Local First Educational Campaign”
This project will use print, electronic media, and a spoken word campaign to highlight the benefits of consuming locally grown specialty crops, help consumers learn how to use the products in everyday cooking, and help consumers more easily identify local produce by utilizing branding and logo identification.

Recipient: West Virginia State University Research and Development Corporation
Project Title: “Southern WV Small Fruit/Tree Workshop Series and Demonstration Project”
This project will develop a series of small fruit workshops on the production of blueberries, strawberries, blackberries/raspberries, grapes and tree fruits. The workshops will concentrate on crop-specific information regarding site selection, planting, pruning techniques, fertilization, irrigation and pest management. Each two-hour workshop will be free and will include take-home reference materials. In addition, two demonstration sites will be implemented for use as hands-on learning environments.

Statewide Initiative
Project Title: “Farm to School Support Initiative”
Programs in Fayette, Cabell, Wayne and Putnam Counties will receive support funding for their new enterprises that encourage youth involvement, healthy lifestyles and specialty crop production during the school year.

Statewide Initiative
Project Title: “Specialty Crop Producer Education in West Virginia”
This initiative will seek to simultaneously increase supply and demand for local specialty crops through educational programs on safe food production and processing, and local food and small farms-themed conferences and educational meetings.

Statewide Initiative
Project Title: “West Virginia Specialty Crop Outreach”
This initiative will promote West Virginia specialty crops at the New York Fancy Foods Show, the Southern Christmas Show in Charlotte, N.C., and will provide a statewide newsfeed to promote specialty crops at the beginning of the growing season.

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture protects plant, animal and human health through a variety of scientific, regulatory and consumer protection programs, as mandated by state law. The Commissioner of Agriculture is one of six statewide elected officials in West Virginia. For more information, visit www.wvagriculture.org.

“The Basis of All Wealth is Agriculture.”


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