The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech and the School of Agriculture at Virginia State University are strongly committed to the SARE Professional Development Program. Virginia Tech and Virginia State University continue to host and sponsor professional development workshops and programs each year. These workshops and programs help build interest and strengthen the implementation of sustainable methods and practices across Virginia, especially in the areas of ecological soil management, cover cropping, community food systems, and overall market diversification for meat, milk, vegetable and fruit producers. There continues to be strong consumer interest in how food is produced and where food comes from. Additionally, there is more interest in community, local and regional food systems that encourage more community-focused farm-to-market connections, which can strengthen and foster sustainable agriculture efforts. Virginia Cooperative Extension, through our SARE initiatives, organizational partnerships and professional development program, seeks to serve all of agriculture and fully integrate sustainable farming practices that emphasize the social, economic and environmental components of sustainability throughout the food system. We will continue to provide the most current and best scientific information and research so that producers and citizens can make the best choices which suit their individual and community objectives.
Project objectives from proposal:
1) Annually conduct trainings regarding sustainable agricultural practices and Southern Region SARE programs on a statewide basis and in conjunction with other planned agent and partnering agencies’(NRCS, FSA, SWCD, Farm Credit) existing training programs to reach the following:
• at least one hundred Agriculture Extension Agents (VCE)
• Twenty Farm Service Agency (FSA) personnel and Farm Credit system personnel
• Fifty Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Soil and Water Conservation District personnel
2) Annually conduct train-the-trainer training on a statewide basis and in conjunction within existing annual conferences and/or field meetings to reach at least 300 persons including farmer, military veterans, landowners, farming associations, state government agency personnel, county government personnel, nongovernment organizations (NGO’s) and community based organizations (CBOs).
3) Annually conduct training with at least 75 socially disadvantaged farmers, landowners and community leaders, including military veterans, African‐Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, women and persons who have limited resources of land, labor and capital regarding sustainable agriculture practices and Southern Region SARE programs.