During the week of March 12th, the third cohort of the Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results (VALOR) program traveled to Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia to interact with Urban Farming and National Policy organizations, companies, and government agencies.
After a quick stop at Wegman's to learn more about how regional food production at a corporation level can occur, the group moved into the heart of DC to visit a variety of locations. These viewings ranged from nonprofit groups including Arcadia Center - a program aiming to improve food access for low-income people, provide food education, and facilitate a Veteran Farmer Training Program in Alexandria - to for-profit businesses including Up Top Acres - a company growing vegetation on the rooftops of DC buildings.
Additionally, the fellows stopped by the University of DC College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) to see some of the integrative agriculture for an ever expanding urban area.
Their first stops in Loudoun County focused heavily on local sourcing of grassfed beef cattle, wine, and hydroponically grown lettuces and microgreens. A tour of the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension (MARE) Center more fully provided an agricultural view of one of the wealthiest counties in America. Their Northern Virginia experience was topped off by a lively discussion on what truly is leadership in agriculture.
Before heading back to various home counties through the Commonwealth, the fellows visited with Special Interest Groups, as well as staffers from Representative Bob Goodlatte and Senator Tim Kaine's offices to help push forward agricultural issues in their areas. These spirited discussions provided the fellows with the opportunity to use their leadership training as it applies to agriculture interests and needs throughout Virginia. Stops at the USDA and EPA furthered the fellows' exposure to national policy including how and why regulations, initiatives, and campaigns begin and continue through agriculture.
With DC being a national stop for many adult agriculture leadership programs around the nation, the VALOR fellows met and enjoyed a family-style dinner with fellows from the Missouri and Kentucky programs. Their interactions provided the fellows a unique chance to witness the procedures and policies from other cohorts, as well as expand their knowledge on agriculture practices throughout the nation.
The next VALOR seminar will be held in the Valley of Virginia May 17th-21st. Look out for our next seminar update shortly after our return!
To report any unintentional omissions or errors, please contact Chelsea Corkins at email@example.com.