WVSU receives two grants to expand agriculture production projects

Contact: Kimberly Osborne
(304) 766-3363
Oct. 28, 2013
WVSU receives two grants to expand agriculture production projects
INSTITUTE, W.Va. – West Virginia State University (WVSU) Extension Service continues to broaden its focus on specialty crop production with two new grants from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture totalling nearly $36,000. The funded projects seek to improve mushroom and hops production in West Virginia.

One project will research the market viability for locally sourced and organically produced hops. Hops are flowers of the hop plant and a key flavoring and stability agent in beer production. The project is designed to help West Virginia’s farmers tap into an unmet and continually growing need.

“The craft brewing industry in our state is seeing a surge recently,” said Melissa Stewart, WVSU extension specialist. "Through this project, we're working to connect West Virginia farmers with the commerical production of hops and, in turn, foster new economic development opportunities."

Totalling nearly $23,000, the funding will help determine proper growing and management techniques, the varieties that perform best in our state’s climate and the level of interest in the commodity from both farmers and brewers.

Another award, totalling nearly $13,000, will establish demonstration sites to study the production of mushrooms in urban and rural settings.

“We are seeking to diversify existing mushroom markets and create new ones in West Virginia,” said WVSU Extension Agent Brad Cochran. “Our goal is to find new markets for selling mushrooms, trial different varieties to gauge production levels and educate our farmers about how to produce their own crops.”

Using varieties such as shiitake and oyster mushrooms, the demonstration sites will be designed using traditional production methods, as well as new and emerging technologies for urban production. Educational workshops will target growers interested in learning how to produce their own mushrooms, therein diversifying market offerings.

The projects are the latest in a line of funding awards to the University through WVDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which funds projects involving the production, processing and marketing of fruits and vegetables.

Past awards to WVSU have funded ongoing projects focused on small fruit production and the implementation of season-extending techniques using high tunnel growing systems.

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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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