22 Oct

WVU to host 100-Mile Meal

David | October 22nd, 2014

For a family of four, eating local is as simple as a trip to the farmer’s market. But what does it take for a family of 1,000 to eat local?

West Virginia University will host its first 100-Mile Meal at the Cafe Evansdale dining hall on Thursday (Oct. 23) with all major menu ingredients sourced from a 100 mile radius of the Evansdale campus. The evening will be the culmination of months of planning by WVU Dining Services, the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, WVU Extension Service, the College of Business and Economics, and dozens of local farmers.

The 100 Mile-Meal Challenge concept was developed to teach diners about the process of getting food from the farm to the table. While markets, restaurants, and grocery stores are all options for farmers looking to sell their crops, the WVU 100 Mile Dinner is an experiment to add collegiate dining to the list of potential buyers. The result could be a business partnership that benefits the local farming economy while reducing the environmental impact of long-range product shipping.

“The 100 Mile Meal Challenge is just a beginning that we hope will lead every school in the state of West Virginia to actively support sustainable, resilient and healthy food and water systems” said Megan Govindan, director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics and teaching associate professor of human nutrition and foods. “The participants in the challenge are educating and promoting access to fresh, local and real food throughout their school or university. In West Virginia 45 of 55 counties are serving local foods in their cafeterias.”

– See more at: http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/n/2014/10/20/wvu-to-host-100-mile-dinner#sthash.w1jTyubf.dpuf

17 Oct

Soils Team qualifies for nationals

David | October 17th, 2014
Soils Team 2014 Regionals

A second-place finish in regional competition has qualified the West Virginia University Soils Team for the National Collegiate Soils Contest next spring.

Ten students from WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design traveled to Clemson, South Carolina, Oct. 6-9 to compete in the 2014 Southeast Regional Collegiate Soils Contest. WVU’s team members were among 71 students representing 11 schools digging into the red clay dirt of the southern Piedmont landscapes.

“After three days of practice, the team members were prepared for the unfamiliar soils and were able to calibrate their judging skills to the local conditions,” said James Thompson, a professor of soils and land use in the Davis College and the team’s coach.

The students who traveled with the team were: David Ackley, a junior in agribusiness management and rural development from Edon, Ohio; Ellie Bell, a senior in soil science from Snowshoe; Riley Biddle, a junior in agronomy from Carmichaels, Pennsylvania.; Caleb Griffin, a senior in agroecology from Friendsville, Maryland; Jimmy Leonard, a sophomore in argoecology from Middletown, Middletown; Emily Lessman, a sophomore in soil science from Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.; Adrienne Nottingham, a senior in soil science from Green Bank; Katie Stegemerten, a senior in multidisciplinary studies from Annapolis, Maryland.; Becca Swope, a senior in agricultural and extension education from Salem, Ohio; and Emily Wells, a senior in agribusiness management and rural development from Sistersville.

When the results were tallied, six WVU students placed in the top 25. Nottingham finished second, Griffin seventh, Swope 11th, Stegemerten 12th, Lessman 21st and Bell 23rd.

This strong individual showing propelled WVU to a second-place finish in the team competition. This is fifth time in the last six years that WVU has placed in the top three in the region, including two regional championships in 2009 and 2013.

The team will now begin to prepare for the National Collegiate Soils Contest, which will be held in the spring and will be hosted by the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

“As always, I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of all of these students,” Thompson said. “These students continue to build upon the past success of the WVU Soils Team, and students and faculty from other schools are noticing these students’ achievements.

“I believe this speaks to the quality of the training that these students receive from WVU’s Division of Plant and Soil Sciences,” Thompson said. “It also reflects the overall strength of the academic programs across the Davis College.”

6 Oct

Extension to offer food business workshops

David | October 6th, 2014

Get a recipe for success in the food industry from West Virginia University Extension Service. Business and food safety experts from across the state will offer advice through two, day-long Food for Profit workshops in Belington and Charleston.

“We want to teach people to maximize their profits and successfully operate a business,” said Litha Sivanandan, WVU Extension food safety and preservation specialist. “This workshop prepares participants for the hurdles, legal and otherwise, that new and potential business owners face.”

Topics include everything from developing a business plan and applying for loans, to determining prices, registering trademarks and buying insurance. Certifications, inspections, labeling requirements, responding to emergencies and marketing will also be covered.

The Charleston session takes place at the Kanawha County office of the WVU Extension Service in Kanawha City on Nov. 19.

The Belington workshop takes place at the Belington Fire Hall on Nov. 20.

The sessions are geared toward business owners, producers, farmers, micro- and home-based businesses, farmers’ market vendors and restaurateurs.

The cost of the course is $30, and participants can register for the Belington session by contacting the Barbour County Office of the WVU Extension Service at 304-457-3254. To register for the Charleston session, contact the Kanawha County WVU Extension Service at 304-720-9573.

The deadline to register is Nov. 14. The program is sponsored by the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Project.

23 Sep
Gerard D'Souza A West Virginia University professor has been named a Fellow of the Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, the official publication of the Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association.

The award was given to Gerard D’Souza, professor and director of WVU’s program in agricultural and resource economics. Establish in 2012, the Agricultural and Resource Economics Review Fellows award is given to authors who have demonstrated sustained excellence in research and commitment to the association’s journal. Recipients must have published at least five peer-reviewed articles in the Review to qualify for the honor.

This group of Fellows represents less than 1 percent of the total number of authors who have published in these journals, and represents scholars from across the country including Cornell, University of Maryland, Penn State, Michigan State, Texas A&M and Rutgers.

D’Souza’s research emphasizes sustainable development with an emphasis on the role of niche agricultural products within the context of natural, financial, and human capital development at various levels, from local to international.

In addition to also being a faculty research associate at WVU’s Regional Research Institute, D’Souza was a Fulbright Scholar in Paraguay, a visiting scholar at Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture in Costa Rica and at the Wallace Institute in Greenbelt, Md., and had sabbatical research-related appointments at universities in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

He recently co-developed a new energy-related undergraduate major, EQuad (Energy, Environmental, Economics and Entrepreneurship).

D’Souza has been participated in research projects funded by grants totaling over $5 million from agencies including the USDA, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, USAID and the Benedum Foundation. He is the author or co-author of several books and book chapters, book reviews, journal articles, conference and working papers, and on-line decision-support tools.

He is actively involved in the Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, including several publications, presentations, committee leadership or membership and on its Board of Directors. He also has been an active member of Gamma Sigma Delta and Sigma Xi.

15 Sep
image of Doolarie Singh-Knights West Virginia University Extension Service’s new Agritourism Initiative aims to help local farmers create and profit from farm-based tourism opportunities.

With the help of a $30,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, WVU and industry experts will engage participants in a series of four, day-long training sessions in areas like risk management, marketing, hospitality management and business collaborations.

“Farmers are exploring agritourism and farm-based education as an opportunity to help diversify farm income and improve cash flows,” Dee Singh-Knights, WVU Extension Service agricultural economics specialist and assistant professor of agricultural and resource economics, said. “The challenge is the lack of education-specific resources and expertise to help them effectively evaluate this new opportunity.”

Organizers say the program will serve as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for agritourism resources, helping farmers navigate the risk management issues arising from agritourism activities.

“The program builds on the ‘entertainment’ value of agritourism, to include the overlooked ‘educational’ value, in response to consumer demand for understanding where their food and related products comes from,” Singh-Knights said.

The program is a collaboration between WVU Extension Service, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, the West Virginia Division of Tourism and West Virginia State University.

– See more at: http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/n/2014/09/12/w-va-agritourism-initiative-uses-wvu-resources-to-help-local-farmers-profit-from-new-opportunities#sthash.rNRJPHY9.dpuf

17 Jun

The agricultural and resource economics program is seeking applicants for two faculty positions:

For more information on all job opportunities, application processes and employment policies at West Virginia University, please visit the WVU Jobs site.

10 Jun

Paraguayan scholars to visit WVU

David | June 10th, 2014

Connections a West Virginia University professor made while on a Fulbright-sponsored visit to Paraguay have laid the foundation for an upcoming visit from a delegation from one of the South American nation’s premiere universities to finalize an exchange agreement with the University.

Scholars from the Universidad Nacional de Asuncion in San Lorenzo will visit Morgantown June 10-13 to finalize an exchange agreement with the Mountain State’s land-grant university.

The idea for the partnership germinated during a Fulbright-sponsored visit to Paraguay by Gerard D’Souza, director and professor of WVU’s agricultural and resource economics program in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.

D’Souza came back to WVU with a new appreciation for Paraguay – and even went so far to say that it could be considered the green energy capital of the world by 2020.

“It’s a well-kept secret. It’s a very young and economically vibrant country in the heart of South America. It is politically stable and without some of the security concerns that characterize other countries,” said D’Souza, who has been at WVU for nearly 30 years.

D’Souza cited WVU’s strategic goal to advance international activity and global engagement as an impetus for creating the relationship with Asuncion. The exchange agreement, coordinated with the Office of International programs (OIP), will allow faculty and students from each institution to study and pursue research at the other. D’Souza said that the program would be of interest across the university, but particularly to scholars in energy, environmental, economic and business disciplines.

Jose ‘Zito’ Sartarelli, WVU’s chief global officer and Milan Puskar dean of the College of Business and Economics, described Paraguay as “an important country located in the heart of Latin America.

“In our aim to extend and expand the global footprint of WVU, it’s imperative to build relationships all over the world,” Sartarelli added. “This visit from the Paraguayan delegation will allow for deeper opportunities for exchange of all kinds between our two institutions.”

During their visit, the Paraguayan delegation will visit with WVU’s Office of International Programs, Sartarelli, and WVU President E. Gordon Gee.

28 May

If you are a gardener or farmer, or have recipes that friends and family are always inquiring about, see how the results of hard work and delicious recipes can pay off with West Virginia University Extension Service’s Food for Profit educational workshop.

The workshop takes place June 6 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Belington Fire Department, located at 301 Watkins Street in Belington. The cost for the workshop is $30, which includes education materials and lunch.

Food for Profit is a program created by Penn State Extension and customized by the WVU Extension Service to teach West Virginians how to plan, create, finance and run a for-profit food business.

The registration deadline for the event is May 30. For additional information contact Joshua Peplowski at WVU Extension Service’s Barbour County office at 304-457-3254, or by e-mailing Joshua.Peplowski@mail.wvu.edu.

Food for Profit is a collaboration of the Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Families and Health Program units of WVU Extension Service.

– See more at: http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/n/2014/05/23/wvu-extension-food-for-profit-educational-session-helps-new-and-experienced-growers-cultivate-profits#sthash.wDdiPQDV.dpuf

16 May
image of Cheryl Brown The Appalachian Foodshed Project, an initiative with West Virginia University support, has awarded grants to three community projects that seek to enhance community food security in West Virginia.

The three funded projects in the Mountain State, along with six in Virginia and North Carolina, are building on the work that is already happening in the region, while increasing access to local fresh foods, creating new opportunities for collaboration, and building capacity for advocacy and action.

“These projects all address community food security in some capacity and are wonderful examples of the creative food systems work in our region. We are excited to support efforts that truly embody the innovative spirit of Appalachia,” said AFP director Susan Clark.

According to AFP stakeholders, community food security involves:

  • Ensuring that healthy food is accessible and available to all community members
  • Empowering communities to determine where/how to focus work for food system change
  • Cultivating ecologically and financially sustainable agriculture
  • Balancing food security and farm security
  • Engaging youth and young people
  • Fostering a healthier community
  • Working for justice and equity

The West Virginia grants went to:

  • Alderson Community “Food Access for All” —Lead Organization: Alderson Community Food HUB; Counties Represented: Greenbrier, Monroe, Summers; $6,300
  • SAGE, or Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurs—Lead organization: CADCO Foundation and the Charleston Area Alliance; Counties Represented: Kanawha; $3,700
  • Farm to Pantry Matching Program—Lead Organization: Monongalia County Family Resource Center; Counties Represented: Monongalia, Preston, Marion; $10,000

Cheryl Brown, an associate professor of agricultural and resource economics in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, has been working with peers at Virginia Tech and North Carolina State on the $2.041 million project, which is being funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through 2016.

“A thriving local food system can improve children’s health, reconnect us to the land, allow farmers to prosper, and attract new farmers to agriculture,” Brown said. “Yet the current food system still presents barriers to those with limited financial resources regarding access to sufficient food, much less high quality locally grown food.

“We need to connect impoverished communities to healthier, locally grown food,” she added.

The long-term goal of the grant project is to strengthen, sustain, and expand the South-Atlantic Appalachian Region foodshed of Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina with the dual aim of increasing food security and economic viability within historically disadvantaged communities of cultural Appalachia.

For more information on the project, please visit its home page at http://www.appalachianfoodshedproject.org/.

30 Apr
The Neffs

(Editor’s Note: As Commencement nears, WVUToday is featuring some of the University’s most dedicated graduates. Here is the story of two of those students.)

Siblings Steve and Maddi Neff grew up in an Ohio farm town where they say the cows outnumber the people.

Suffice it to say, West Virginia University has more people than cows.

But when Steve got his first taste of WVU as a high school student experiencing a Mountaineer football weekend, he called his mother that Sunday to tell her of this whole new world.

“I was dead-set on going to a private college,” Steve said. “A friend had a ticket to catch a football game at WVU and I went with him. The next day, I took a tour of the campus. I called my mom and said, ‘Hey mom. I’m going to school here.’ And it was the best decision of my life.”

For more information about Commencement, click here.

In May, that decision will lead Steve and his sister Maddi across the stage at the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design commencement ceremony. They will join about 4,300 other graduates receiving their degrees May 9-11.

Steve, 24, will receive his master’s degree in agriculture, natural resources and design. Two days later, he’ll go to Montana to fight wildfires with the U.S. Forest Service.

Maddi, 22, will gain her bachelor’s degree in agribusiness management and rural development. She, too, is heading to the Rocky Mountains – to Colorado, where she will work at horse ranches.

– See more at: http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/n/2014/04/30/meet-the-grads-like-brother-like-sister-country-roads-to-take-ohio-siblings-to-the-rocky-mountains#sthash.PxnEtgmJ.dpuf