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Ag Is Everywhere

When you look at VALOR V, we are diverse, and I am always amazed by how our different backgrounds are all part of Agriculture.  I have already learned so much from each of your experiences and love our in-depth group conversations. Here are a few highlights from our November 2020 session.

Session II did not disappoint. The passion each of our hosts had for their operation, and the industry was inspiring. While I live close to both the southside and Shore, AG is different from my area! Cotton and hogs are not something I see regularly. Hearing firsthand from the producers, researchers on their respective fields and how their sector has changed and adapted reminds me of AGs resiliency.

The ways technology has “modernized” farming is incredible. I was shocked by how cotton can “recover” from those dry spells by having the cool night temperatures and can handle a two-week dry period. That is quite different from what I know of corn. Putting less stress on plants and also animals one thing I had not thought of in terms of technological abilities. I had not visited a hog farm. Getting to see the piglets were adorable and fascinating to watch how the team cares for the animals using technology to monitor temperatures, food, water, weights, and other factors. COVID caused disruption everywhere, and to many producers who relied on shut down, markets or capacity reduced demands (i.e., event pop-ups, restaurants, schools). I enjoyed hearing about how they adapted to the changing environment as best as they could.

The Shore was full of prime examples of how farmers had to re-think their strategies. Pearl Market was unlike anything I had experienced before, and it was full of one of a kind retailers with something for everyone. In my area, farmer’s markets are over in the fall, but there are so many other things the Shore has to offer. Fresh canned goods, seasonings, flower arrangements, fresh seafood and bakery items, wood carved items, to name a few. While it is strange to say that a hydroponic farm is beautiful, Shore Breeze was just that. I have never seen anything like their operation, and their storefront was impressive as well. I hope to go back post-covid and see their storefronts in action! Quail Cove Farms greeted us with fresh donuts and ones where he took the time to make unique VALOR labels for us.  I did get two donuts containers, and no, I did not share 😊 I am not sure if I have had sweet potato donuts, but I highly recommend. I learned a lot about the organic sector and loved hearing about the various products they supply to companies, like Route 11 chips.

I was also unaware each of the AREC locations focused on different specialties based on growing in that area. The Tidewater and Shore locations are impressive. I enjoyed hearing about the research they are doing and how they are reaching out to educate the public. I need to visit all of the research stations to understand what all of VA has to offer.

What I is see is impressive things that VA AG is doing, but no one knows about it. We have a group of professionals who are so dedicated and passionate about AG. It left me thinking, what do we as an industry need to be doing to support each other and share our stories?

Special thanks to all the people and businesses who allowed VALOR Class V to visit. I found a few websites for our stops if you would like to learn more about them!

Commonwealth Cotton Gin http://www.commonwealthgin.com/

Tidewater AREC https://www.arec.vaes.vt.edu/arec/tidewater.html

Pearl Market https://www.pearlmarketcc.com/

Shore Breeze https://shorebreezefarms.com/

Quail Cove Farm http://www.quailcovefarms.com/

Eastern Shore AREC https://www.arec.vaes.vt.edu/arec/eastern-shore.html

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