Learning a little about agriculture
Saturday’s 14th annual Jefferson County Farm Day self-guided tour offered an education in agricultural development from aquaponics to raising apples. The event highlighted agricultural resources to help promote knowledge of farms, farmers and farmland in Jefferson County.
Sponsored by the Jefferson County Farm Bureau, the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District and the WVU Jefferson County Extension Service, this year’s featured farms include the WVU Kearneysville Tree Fruit and Research Center in Kearneysville. The center was established in 1930 by West Virginia University with a mission to serve the commercial tree fruit industry through research and Extension education programs. Comprised of 130 acres, the center features mixed tree fruit plantings, specialty crops, corn rotation, a modern laboratory and classroom plus a new high tunnel.
Tour-goers will be able to observe high tunnel operations and gardening demonstrations along with driving through the orchards.
Tangy Produce, in Shenandoah Junction, features an aquaponic greenhouse that produces leafy greens, several varieties of lettuces and herbs plus Tilapia. Owner Brian Tanguay uses no pesticides or chemicals.
Rather, his loop system grows fish that produce waste that grows plants. Produce from Tangy is available at the Charles Town Farmer’s Market as well as Black Dog Coffee
James and Frances Blue, along with five of their seven children, Jimmy, Richard, John, Mike and Weasie, operate the James T. Blue & Sons Farm in Shenandoah Junction. The dairy farm features a double 12 parallel milking parlor which sees over150 Holstein cows twice a day. Milking takes place at 5 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day. Corn, wheat, barley, rye, alfalfa and grass hay are raised on the surrounding 900 acres of farmland. Silos, corn cribs, plus cow, heaier and calf barns complete the farmstead which is devoted totally to milk production.
Rounding out the 2015 Farm Day tour was the Ranson Old Town Community Gardens located in the heart of Ranson. These gardens demonstrate many creative methods for urban agriculture. Volunteers maintain the gardens, harvest crops for their personal consumption and donate the remaining harvest to the Jefferson Community Ministries food pantry.