GWCARC Progress Update
By: Carl C. Stafford
Senior Extension Agent
Development of new knowledge serving agriculture in the Northern Piedmont is the main purpose for the George Washington Carver Agriculture Research Center http://gwcarc.org/. Centrally located south of Culpeper at the Carver Piedmont School on route 15, this old regional high school is accessible to the surrounding counties and will house the Carver Center and its partners.
The facility was evaluated by engineers and architects and found suitable for our planned agriculture education and research purposes. State and private funds paid for this feasibility study. Renovations begin this summer in a few rooms near the front of the building. Funding to remove the lead and asbestos there is from a matching grant between Culpeper County and the federal government. Renovation of these rooms following this abatement is being funded by Culpeper County.
We are taking a step by step improvement process supervised and supported by Culpeper County Environmental Services Department. With these first steps we move toward bringing the historic facility back online as a source of regional education. New and existing agriculture research projects will produce this new knowledge. Now a progress report is in order.
To date, some $350,000 in funding has flowed from private donors, foundations, local, state and federal governments. In-kind donations of equipment, supplies, land use, loans of equipment and donated labor and services add to this total. Soybean disease trials are now 3 years along and a hops trial is being installed now on a cooperator’s farm in Madison County. Cooperating producers include Battle Park Farms here in Culpeper and Woodbourne in Madison. Others will be needed as we expand.
We seek to enter into cooperative agreements with public schools, community colleges and 4 year universities. Their students and all students will need a place to learn by doing. Already the agriculture teachers from across the region are in their third year of engineering competitions at the school, agreement has been reached with Germanna Community College and working relationships established with specialists at Virginia State University and Virginia Tech. Virginia Cooperative Extension fully supports agent involvement.
Our latest effort has been to establish a hop yard. This new trial is being built to establish which varieties are adapted to our conditions and produce quality hops in demand by local brewers. Partners in this effort include the cooperating producer at Woodbourne/Bald Top Hops, pole donors Dominion Virginia Power & Red Crest Farm, pole install Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, pole transport Rosenberger Farms, Warren Retrievers & Copper Hill, and site preparation Spruce Rock Farm. A diverse and significant group who made this hop trial happen.
More of this type of community support will come as each new knowledge project is planned, funded and put in place to generate information farmers of all kinds will turn to in making informed decisions.