Thursday, October 28, 2010

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces $9.6 Million in Partnership Agreements to Help Small and Underserved Producers

In Partnership with Potomac Headwaters RC&D and Center for Economic Options, we were awarded $160,000 to implement a farm to school project in 20 counties of West Virginia.
Follow this link for the .pdf file detailing all the projects funded:

USDA Funds Community Risk Management Education through Innovative Agreements

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the Risk Management Agency (RMA) has awarded $9.6 million in Partnership Agreements to provide producers with opportunities to learn more about managing risk in their businesses, which provides an important educational opportunity for limited-resource and underserved farmers and ranchers. Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Deputy Under Secretary Michael Scuse announced the awards on Vilsack's behalf at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's Annual Crop Insurance Conference.

"The partnerships we are announcing today will provide community-based opportunities for underserved, small and limited-resource producers to be better managers in an inherently risky business," said Scuse. "For small and beginning farmers in particular, risk management often means understanding direct marketing and for this they need legal, financial, and food safety tools and information appropriate for the scale of their operation and the markets that they serve."

Many of the partnerships that RMA is offering can help farmers diversify production and marketing practices, or to provide planning tools to help farmers obtain the insurance and credit that are often critical to their ability to stay in business or to diversify their existing business.

The Federal crop insurance program and Risk Management Education and Outreach programs together provide a safety net to ensure that farmers and ranchers will weather the perils of nature and the marketplace and continue in business, thus ensuring the food supply and the survival of small, limited resource, socially disadvantaged and other traditionally under-served farmers . RMA administers these partnership projects as well as the Federal crop insurance program, with funding and authority from the Federal Crop Insurance Act.

The new partnership agreements announced today include:

Crop Insurance Education in Targeted States: $5 million is being awarded to deliver crop insurance education and information to agricultural producers in 16 states designated as historically underserved with respect to crop insurance. These targeted states include: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Commodity Partnerships for Small Agricultural Risk Management Education Sessions: $1 million is being awarded to fund 110 commodity Partnership Agreements across the country, delivering training to U.S. farmers and ranchers in managing production, marketing, and financial risk, such as the award to Annie's Project in Illinois, Education for Farm Women. The program gives priority to educating producers of crops currently not insured under Federal crop insurance, specialty crops, and underserved commodities, including livestock and forage. RMA expects to reach 1.2 million producers with Risk Management Education Partnerships alone; a 10 percent increase over 2009.

Community Outreach and Assistance Partnerships: USDA is awarding $3.6 million for collaborative outreach and assistance programs, such as the $100,000 award to provide emerging risk management tools to returning veterans to support successful farming. This partnership category targets limited resource, socially disadvantaged and other traditionally under-served farmers and ranchers, who produce priority commodities.

Complete listings of the agreements can be found on the RMA Web site at the following address:


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272(voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

South Morgantown Farmers Market

The South Morgantown will be having it's last outdoor market this Thursday (28th) at 4pm. They will resume with an indoor winter market for two dates in November and two dates in December.

Stay tuned for more details!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Farm Bill Information

This link is "Conserving Habitat through the federal farm bill". Clicking the link will pull up the option to download a .pdf. This article will be helpful for anyone who is looking to engage in conservation practices and wants to know how the farm bill can help them do this.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

West Virginia Sustainability Summit and Expo: Building a 21st Century Sustainable Economy

There is a great program happening in November, sponsored by our partner at the Center For Economic Options (CEO). We suggest you check it out!

It’s time to talk about Sustainability and we have created an opportunity to do just that. The West Virginia Summit and Expo will be focused on our state’s rapidly growing sustainability business sector and will bring diverse perspectives and dynamic discussions related to these important topics:

· Emerging sustainable business opportunities and entrepreneurship

· Building local sustainable economies

· Competitive advantage for sustainable businesses

· Roles of local governments and organizations

· Green Job training and preparation

The one-day event will also focus on the importance of “buying local” and how it helps to grow local economies by supporting small to medium sized businesses. It will highlight businesses that are transitioning or actively engaged in the sustainable economy – one that builds social, environment, and economic assets for everyone!

The Expo booths will feature a variety of businesses and organizations that are committed to helping balance profits with the needs of people and the planet. You will have a chance to learn first-hand how they are positively changing the way we do business.

Featured keynote speakers:

  • U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller
  • Neil Hawkins, Sc. D, The DOW Chemical Company
  • Anthony Flaccavento, Scale, inc.

Registration Fee:

$75.00 - includes Continental Breakfast, Lunch, Beverage Breaks, and Summit Materials.

The event will take place on: Friday, November 12, 2010 at the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown, West Virginia 26501


Wednesday, October 20, 2010


WesMonTy RC&D has joined the Twitter community! Please read our updates and follow us!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Canning Workshop

Children washing vegetables
On Saturday, October 9th, WesMonTy sponsored a canning workshop in the Chestnut Ridge Community. This workshop was in partnership with West Virginia University Extension of Barbour County, The Healthy Families Initiative, Heart and Hand House, inc. and World Servants. The workshop was instructed by Mary Beth Lind, a local author and dietitian. She was accompanied by a host of skilled volunteers and seven participants.

All of the food was local and locally purchased through the Community Garden Market in downtown Philippi. The Community Garden Market is operated by Heart and Hand House, inc. a local non-profit organization. The wonderful thing about the garden market that worked well for this workshop was the role of the market as a local food aggregator. Most of the food used was locally-based, including the bread. Only a few ingredients such as sugar, milk and butter were not able to be sourced locally, but they were purchased through the local grocery store. The presence of the garden market made purchasing very simple in that there was only one bill for food purchased from several producers.

WesMonTy provided a pressure canner, which was available for the participants to learn from. There was also a water bath canner there for the high-acid foods. The pressure canner will be available for residents to borrow throughout the seasons.

The workshop was a great success, with each participant learning a vegetable soup recipe, an apple crisp recipe and an apple pie filling recipe. Both the Vegetable soup and the apple pie filling were canned. Each participant was able to take home one can of each along with a copy of the book 'So Easy to Preserve'. All the recipes came from the book, so that participants will easily be able to return to the recipes they used.

This event was created with families in mind, so children were given activities to do as well. Thanks to the beautiful weather on Saturday, the children first washed vegetables outside then went inside to make a delicious pumpkin dip, which was served with sliced apples. They were also able to make crafts, paint a pumpkin, make spice packets for the soup, and watch A Charley Brown Thanksgiving. It was important that the children take part in the food preparation within their own capacity. New research suggests that kids that participate in food preparation are more likely to try a new food. Some were hesitant to eat the pumpkin dip, but they soon learned that they really liked it!

Making Pumpkin Dip.

Drying apples

Meanwhile the adult session went well. Without having to worry about what their children were up to, the participants were free to focus on the class. Mary Beth went over food cleaning, the basics of canning and the agenda for the day.

The participants were divided into several groups, and each group had a cooking station. Thanks to mobile kitchen supplies provided by Healthy Families Initiative, each station had a portable gas stove, utensils, knives and cutting boards. This allowed participants to cook right at the tables they worked at! First they chopped the veggies which had been cleaned by the children, and then began to cook. After the soup was made up, and the jars sanitized, they began to can. They learned all aspects of canning and how to do it safe and clean.

Preparing the vegetables for soup

Blanching tomatoes

After everything was canned, everyone sat down to eat a great lunch of vegetable soup, bread and apple crisp! It was a great event in that parents were able to eat with their children and their community.

The event was concluded with a visit to the high tunnel project on Chestnut Ridge. At the high tunnel, Jeff Sickler accompanied by Dr. Lewis Jett of WVU made a presentation on the high tunnel. They spoke of benefits of the high tunnel, and gave first-hand examples of the success of it. They also spent some time talking about low-tunnel technologies, a new venture in the area. Low-tunnels are a potentially cost-effective means of season extension. They are a fraction of the price of a low-tunnel, and create many of the same benefits.

Lewis Jett speaking about the benefits of the high tunnel

The high tunnel on the left and the low tunnel on the right.

A view from inside a low tunnel.

Overall it was a great day! WesMonTy has been fortunate to have so many good collaborators and resources in the community. We also look forward to doing an activity like this in the future with other communities.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

NRCS Announces Farm Bill Ranking Period

MORGANTOWN, WV, September 3, 2010—Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers voluntary conservation program opportunities through the Farm Bill. Applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI), Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), and Agricultural Management Assistance program (AMA) are accepted at any time. The first ranking cut-off is October 29, 2010. Applications will be evaluated and ranked following this date based on funding.
EQIP funds are used to help correct environmental problems caused by agricultural operations. Participants typically address soil erosion and water quality problems associated with cropland and animal agriculture. Also included in EQIP are funds to address issues on non-industrial forestland.
The CBWI is much the same as EQIP, but is limited to counties in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This includes the eight counties in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. Common to both programs are practices such as cover crops, animal waste management, pasture management, livestock water development and forestry practices.
WHIP funds assist participants to install practices aimed at improving wildlife habitat. Funds are available for threatened and endangered habitat protection, stream habitat improvement, riparian area development, early successional habitat and other declining and important wildlife habitat. Practices include fencing of key areas, developing field borders, and natural stream restoration.
AMA is a program to assist agricultural producers minimize risk associated with agricultural production. Popular practices under the AMA program are irrigation and deer exclusion fencing. For more information and to apply for programs, please contact your local USDA Service Center, listed in the telephone book under U.S. Department of Agriculture, or your local conservation district
Please follow this link to access information about the project:

This picture is a good example of a drip irrigation system

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Community Garden Market Fall Hours

The Community Garden Market in Philippi has new hours for the Fall. They are Friday 9-1, and Saturday 9-12.

As you all know, this is the first season that the Community Garden Market will be open through the Fall and Winter. Right now they have a great selection of Butternut Squash, Hubbard Squash, Apples, Carving Pumpkins, Sweet Potatoes, Chestnuts, Onions, Garlic, Tomatoes, and other vegetables!
Within the next several weeks, we anticipate the arrival of Carrots, Greens, Beets and Turnips!
It is also expected that they will have eggs through the whole winter.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

BFBL Posters

WesMonTy, in it's continuing partnership with Buy Fresh, Buy Local West Virginia, produced some amazing promotional items for area markets and schools.
Susan Sauter headed the design of these beautiful posters (pictured above). 1000 were printed, and over 400 will be going to local markets to aid them in the promotion of their farmers markets. Some will be going into local schools to promote healthy diets among youth.

We would like to thank Buy Fresh, Buy Local West Virginia for all of their hard work in this wonderful project!

Low Tunnels Project

Recently, WesMonTy in Partnership with Heart and Hand House, purchased low tunnel materials to distribute to small-scale producers in our area.
Low tunnels are much like high tunnels, only about 3 feet high and 5 feet wide. These tunnels serve much the same purpose as high tunnels to extend the growing season, and help manage pests. Luckily, low tunnels are only a fraction of the cost of the high tunnels. This means they will be an effective means of season extension in the WesMonTy area.

Also, some big thanks go to Dr. Lewis Jett of WVU Extension who provided an enormous amount of technical assistance concerning the implementation of the low tunnels and the seed varieties currently being used.

So far, we have three growers who have set-up low-tunnels on their plots. So far, there are pictures for one of them, and there will be more pictures posted soon.

Mark Hollen's low tunnels #1
Mark Hollen's low tunnels #2
Mark Hollen's low tunnels #3
Chris Peters low tunnel #1
Chris Peter's low tunnel, #2. It is important on a sunny day like this to let it vent a little but, thus the loose sides.