Fourth Annual Urban Agriculture Conference Adds Track Targeting Veterans

Contact: Kimberly Osborne
(304) 766-3363
March 20, 2017
Fourth Annual Urban Agriculture Conference Adds Track Targeting Veterans
INSTITUTE, W.Va. – The fourth annual West Virginia Urban Agriculture Conference will feature a new track highlighting agricultural opportunities for the state’s Armed Forces veterans. The two-day event will be held April 28-29 at Camp Virgil Tate in Charleston.

The veteran track emerged as West Virginia State University (WVSU) Extension Service, a conference host, expanded its agricultural programming efforts to target West Virginia’s veteran population. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 20 percent of young veterans are unemployed, and 45 percent of armed service members are from rural America.

“The statistics suggest that agriculture is a logical career choice for many of our veterans, and there is a growing movement both nationally and here in West Virginia to help our veteran population transition into agricultural careers,” said Melissa Stewart, assistant program director of WVSU Extension Service. “We will be showcasing how you can start small and grow into something much larger while reaping the economic and therapeutic benefits of agriculture.”

Sessions in the veteran track will showcase a variety of veteran-run farms and small-scale agricultural operations. Additional tracks focus on topics such as homesteading, urban growing, marketing, livestock and small fruit production.

“People who live in more urban areas of the region often feel like they can’t implement agricultural practices on what might be a small lot,” said Aimee Figgatt, district manager of Capitol Conservation District, another host agency. “What we are showing with this conference is how you can indeed grow your own healthy foods in urban settings, whether you have a small space or a full-size farm.”

In addition to workshops, the event includes a local foods dinner, vendor exhibits and a keynote presentation by Dr. Morris Henderson of the 31st Street Baptist Church in Richmond, Va. The farmers market and garden launched by the church earned a designation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the nation’s first urban farm.

Additional host agencies for the conference include West Virginia University Extension Service, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Conservation Service, and Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.

Registration for the full conference costs $80. One-day registration is $45. A full schedule and online registration is available at To learn more, contact Melissa Stewart at (304) 532-1670 or

Camp Virgil Tate is located at 1400 Camp Virgil Tate Road in Charleston.

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West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multigenerational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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