Ag and Forestry Secretary coming for local Diversified Land Use Summit

By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: April 12, 2019 | 3:15 p.m.

VIRGINIA – Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring is coming to Surry County on April 25 to moderate and offer input at a “Diversified Land Use” summit for farmers and landowners.  According to Pat Bernshausen, DMO, Tourism Coordinator for Surry County, the event blossomed out of a suggestion made by Surry County Board of Supervisors Vice-Chair Judy Lyttle, who had requested that Secretary Ring be invited to visit Surry and meet some local farmers. 

“The summit will provide farmers and property owners with information they can use to diversify their operations in order to create new, and hopefully, long-term sources of additional income,” said Bernshausen, one of the event organizers. “Of course, I would like to see them consider agritourism as an option, as it would only enhance what Surry already has to offer in that area.”

“We will have various speakers sharing information on subjects like Hemp, Hops, Solar Utility, and Forestry,” explained LaSonya White, another of the organizers who is also Surry County Office-Unit Coordinator of Virginia Cooperative Extension. “It will give farmers and other landowners information on different and potentially more profitable ways to use their land.” 

The group, which also includes Sandra Tanner, Product Development Specialist with Virginia Tourism Corporation, has lined up quite an impressive list of participants for the day-long event to be hosted at the Hampton Roads winery and will include a brief tour of the winery.  

The panel includes, among others, Dr. Laban Rutto, a Specialist working for the Va State University Small Farm Outreach Program on Hops, Dr. Maria Balota, Researcher at Tidewater Agricultural Research and Education Center speaking on Hemp, Reed Felts, who works with the Peanut, Soil and Water Conservation District and Meghan Mulroy with the VA Department of Forestry.  

“The event is free of charge and open to the public,” White said. “But advance registration is required and seats are filling up quickly.  Surry, Sussex and Isle of Wight farmers and landowners in particular are urged to attend. Come out and learn something new. Try something different.”  

The Diversified Land Use Summit, will run from 9:30 a.m to 4:00 p.m. April 25 at Hampton Roads Winery, 6074 New Design Road,  Elberon, VA  23846.  Lunch will be provided.  Interested persons can register by calling the VCE office at  757-294-5215 by April 15.

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