By Brandy E. Brabham
WVU Extension Agent

If you are an agricultural producer, livestock or especially of fruits and vegetables, you are invited to a meeting to discuss the West Virginia's Department of Education's Farm to School program.

The WVU Extension Service has organized a meeting in Spencer on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at the Heritage Park Community Building at 6:30 PM.

Growers in the Mid-Ohio Valley region are encouraged to attend this meeting to learn more about the specific requirements of Farm to School, which provides incentives for local school systems to purchase food from local growers. Local WVU Extension Agent, Brandy Brabham says, "More growers need to become involved in this market opportunity.

We have many season extension methods that are simple and inexpensive, requiring little to no additional infrastructure that can typically allow producers to plant and harvest four to five weeks earlier or later for the average West Virginia growing season, making the school system a very viable market." Fellow WVU Extension Agent, Travis Cullen adds, "There are a lot of misconceptions that the prices are not competitive from the schools and farmers in many other counties are learning that that is just not the case!"

The Mid-Ohio Valley Growers Association, a group of fruit and vegetable growers will provide an update on their efforts to plan a Farm to School project at this meeting as well.

4-H, FFA, and other youth group members who may be interested in beginning to grow food for the Farm to School program will want to attend this meeting to as well to learn more about the "Farm to School Challenge," where a regional non-profit will provide up to $5,000 in prize monies to the individual student and to the youth group that sells the most food per capita in the Farm to School program during the 2013 calendar year in the Southwestern region of West Virginia.

For more information about this meeting, please contact your local WVU Extension Service office or Brandy Brabham at the WVU-Roane County Extension Office at 304-927-0975.

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