What is Land-Grant? | West Virginia State University
We are committed to providing research-based educational programs and technical assistance to farmers, commodity groups and agribusinesses, and to providing horticultural and pest management assistance to West Virginia. We focus on alternative agriculture; sustainability; urban forestry; cold storage/post harvest technology; and community, youth and adaptive gardening. We offer hands-on workshops throughout central and southern West Virginia, reaching gardeners of all ages and experience levels.
Agriculture Workshops: Workshops are offered based on needs and requests and may be delivered as a single workshop or developed into a multi-class series, with lectures, hands-on demonstrations and onsite observation to enhance every participant’s education experience. Sample topics include composting, container gardening, reuse, cold-frame construction, irrigation, rain barrels and mushroom production.
Backyard Habitat: The Backyard Habitat is a hands-on interactive display that introduces preschool and elementary kids to agriculturally based topics through independent learning opportunities. Designed as stations, youth are encouraged to interact in various scenarios such as a farmers market, flower garden and a campsite where their imagination is left to lead them in constructive play. Based on the themes introduced through the Junior Master Gardener program, the intention of the display is to open the minds of both youth and adults to the world of agricultural education.
Community & Adaptive Gardening: Community gardens are gardens developed within a community setting to provide participants with the skills and resources to produce their own fruits and vegetables, while encouraging the adoption of healthy eating habits. Adaptive gardens serve the same purpose as community gardens, but they are designed to meet the needs of the population by taking into account accessibility barriers, as well as other factors that may limit interaction in a garden setting. We work with low-income housing developments, as well as community and professional organizations, to design and implement gardens in central and southern West Virginia.
Junior Master Gardener: Developed by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Junior Master Gardener is a comprehensive gardening education curriculum targeting elementary, middle and high-school youth. Our assistant program director is the state coordinator of JMG here in West Virginia.
The SCRATCH Project: The SCRATCH Project brings together inquiry-based science, real-world technology and outdoor education at the elementary level to prepare children to become problem-solvers, entrepreneurs and live a sustainable lifestyle. SCRATCH youth actively participate in the Junior Master Gardener program and receive various levels of certification based on JMG curricula. The SCRATCH Project also includes development and implementation of several backyard edible gardens, greenhouse production, hydroponic/aeroponic growing and a specialization in high-yield urban gardening for end-product production in support of local foods initiatives in Cabell County. As their garden crops are harvested, youth are learning about business and entrepreneurship by selling their products to local farmers markets and restaurants.
PLANTERS: (Preschoolers Learning Agriculture, Nutrition, Technology, Engineering, Reading and Science) is an initiative to bring garden-based education to early learners. Extension agents and WVSU students establish school gardens and lead activities in preschool settings, teaching sustainability, environmental awareness and appreciation for outdoor spaces. Lessons are rooted in science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics (STEAM).
Small Fruit Production: We have developed an educational mini-series covering blueberries, blackberries, fruit trees, grapes, raspberries and strawberries. The primary educational focus is for the backyard gardener to understand small-scale production basics. Workshops focus on disease and insect management and hands-on training of pruning techniques. Participants are also requesting workshops on growing asparagus, rhubarb, kiwi and figs. Urban Orchards are also being established within neighborhoods in Huntington, with these efforts expanding their reach throughout central and southern W.Va.
Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE): Since 1988, the SARE program has helped advance farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities through a nationwide research and education grants program. Sustainable agriculture practices address pest management, cultural practices, soil fertility, adding value and farm profitability. At WVSU, SARE funding has been utilized to study sustainable agriculture and provide training opportunities for local agriculture producers.
Urban Forestry: Our urban forestry programs are made possible through a Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA) grant to support hands-on workshops across the state. Arbor Day celebrations provide outreach to youth with tree seedlings, educational materials and hands-on learning about the natural resources surrounding us all. Workshops are also offered on alternative forestry and natural resource enterprises. The Memorial Tree Project has been piloted in Ravenswood, W.Va., to develop living memorials to those who have passed on and held a special place in their family member’s hearts. Educational workshops and demonstration sites are being developed focusing on reintroduction of pecan trees to the state’s landscape.
Socially Disadvantaged Farmers Program: With a focus on serving our veteran, active military and socially disadvantaged populations throughout the state, this program serves to introduce individuals to agricultural topics that could lead down the road toward future employment. Through partnerships with the West Virginia National Guard and the West Virginia Department of Ag, demonstration and educational facilities are being created in central and southern West Virginia to provide hands-on workshops and trainings to introduce new and innovative trends toward increasing agricultural production.
Hops Production: The emergence of the craft beer industry has brought on a nationwide shortage of hops being produced for the industry. This project is focused on hops production in West Virginia with the mindset that the hops produced will be utilized in West Virginia breweries to create a huge economic impact. The project is aimed at trialing several varieties of hops to determine which varieties grow best here, while also working hand-in-hand with the breweries to grow varieties that are the most desirable. The project is funded by a Specialty Crop Block Grant from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.
Cold Storage/Post Harvest Technology: This initiative is aimed at providing farmers with post-harvest education. Participants learn appropriate techniques from pre-cooling methods to storing and moving fresh market produce. While still in development, ultimately the program will include access to walk-in refrigerator units, refrigerator trailers and pre-cooling coolers. Through meeting both the educational and infrastructural needs, farmers will be able to reach additional markets with high-quality produce and adapt to the growing demand for fresh local food. 
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