Thursday, April 28, 2011

Farm to School Success Story

Thanks to the Farm to School pre-conference workshop at the 2011 Small Farm Conference hosted by WesMonTy RC&D, the Center for Economic Options, and the WVU Small Farm Center, a large farm to school purchase order for fresh produce was filled in Fayette County this week.

A relationship was established at the conference between attendees Savanna Lyons, the Market Manager in Fayette County, and David Seay of Fayette County Schools. After Mr Seay spoke to the Fayette County Farmers Market, he formed a committee focused on getting local products into the Fayette County Schools. This week this contact resulted in a purchase order of $1,000 for a Fayette County Farmer. The farmer is going to deliver fresh strawberries and salad bar items to the school. They are also planning field trips for some classes to come out and pick strawberries!

According to Mr. Seay, "It was one of the best things I have done as the Food Service Director in Fayette County. I think that a relationship between the farmers and the schools will pay dividends for both groups"

The momentum of Farm to School Programs in West Virginia is growing. Let's keep this up and bring more fresh, local products into the schools!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

NRCS Success Story

Here is a success story recently posted on the NRCS webpage. The text is posted below, or you can follow the link:

West Virginia Success Story

Sprucing up a Former Surface Mine

Program or Category: WesMonTy Resource Conservation and Development. (RC&D), Appalachian Plant Materials Center (PMC).

Overview: The project area is 90 acres of Mower Tract previously surface mined land on Cheat Mountain located in Randolph County on the USFS Monongahela National Forest. The reclamation techniques left the area in a less than desirable condition. To ensure stability, soils were heavily compacted, and all disturbances were sowed with aggressive, nonnative grass species. After several decades, the area is still covered by only a dense grass mat which has inhibited the establishment of native species. This condition is referred to as ‘arrested succession’ and can be reversed with human intervention.

This high elevation site was historically a red spruce-northern hardwood ecosystem prior to mining activities. The red spruce ecosystem of the Central Appalachians is characterized by exceptionally high biodiversity and is a priority for conservation and restoration.

Accomplishments: The Wes-Mon-Ty Resource Conservation & Development Project, Inc. received a $5,000 Stage I grant and $12,000 Stage II grant through the 2010 FOCUS WV Brownfields program to address barriers to revitalization of Barton Bench Ecological Project Area and plan for marketing implementation. Brownfields are abandoned or underutilized properties that have not been redeveloped due to real or perceived environmental barriers.

The project objective is to establish and restore native species of shrubs, trees, and herbaceous plants to this area with a short-term goal (5-20 years) of enhancing habitat for early successional species and a long-term goal of spruce ecosystem restoration. The Forest Service is working with partners to collect seeds or roots from trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants native to the high elevations of West Virginia. The Appalachian Plant Materials Center has propagated several species including common elderberry, yellow birch, black locust, alternate-leaved dogwood, scarlet beebalm, and bigtooth aspen.

Project partners include: Wes-Mon-Ty Resource Conservation and Development Council, Appalachian Plant Materials Center, Monongahela National Forest, Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative (CASRI), Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center, Office of Surface Mining's Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, The Nature Conservancy and Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

Program Benefits to Community: Mower Tract wildlife habitat enhancement and ecological restoration has many short term and long-term benefits. Primarily, native flora restoration on the Mower Tract will greatly aid and conserve species including the Cheat Mountain salamander, northern flying squirrel, snowshoe hare, golden eagles, woodcock, ruffed grouse, saw whet owl and a number of pollinating animals by providing a variety of food sources and niches. Short term benefits are already being realized as wildlife feeding and pollination has already been observed this summer season. In the next 40 years, a vast habitat improvement is expected regarding natural biodiversity by establishing a vegetative community which will proliferate itself naturally.

By returning the mine site to native forest, the state's much diminished red spruce forest—the target of an ongoing restoration effort—will grow, and more high-value hardwood timber will be produced. The land's ability to absorb and control water runoff will also be enhanced.

The Barton Bench Ecological Restoration Project has the potential to convert a longstanding brownfield into a high profile demonstration site that can be used to showcase the natural resources of West Virginia.

Jason Teets, Wes-Mon-Ty Resource Conservation & Development Coordinator

Philippi Center
Rt. 4, Box 502
Philippi, WV 26416

Photo of Bigtooth aspen Bigtooth aspen are native to the Monongahela National Forest and grow quickly to shade out invasive grasses and provide a food source and habitat.
Photo of bigtooth aspen Photo of bigtooth aspen Several aspen were staked in preparation of high winds and flagged to deter wildlife from grazing on the young tress before their roots became established. Ten aspen were fitted with garden fabric sheets to control the growth of invasive sod.

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