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Farming Program Participants Honored at UVI

Oct. 24, 2007 — Fifty-four professional and amateur farmers who completed a series of workshops and seminars on farming practices were feted at UVI's St. Croix campus Wednesday evening.
The participants provided a snapshot of the wide segment of Crucian society that wants to see farming continue and grow on St. Croix: UVI professors, society ladies in African-influenced robes and headscarves, retired St. Croix professors and doctors, civic leaders and young professionals, school-aged children in colorful program T-shirts and working men with callused hands and weathered faces beneath carefully arranged dreadlocks.
They all spent the last nine months taking classes together, joined by a common desire to see St. Croix grow green with fresh local crops. For some, farming is as much an expression of heritage and culture as it is a way of making a living and providing wholesome food.
About 70 individuals were seated in UVI's Great Hall for the event. Several notables spoke to the gathering before the certificates and awards were given out.
Commissioner of Agriculture Louis Petersen Jr. said his department is committed to the mission of improving agriculture and making it more profitable through education.
"There is no way we can speak of advanced approaches to agriculture without looking at training," Petersen said. After congratulating the class participants, Petersen lightheartedly said he expected results.
"After tonight, we expect more produce in the marketplace," he said. "We expect more local meats in the marketplace."
The V.I. Farmers Cooperative pushed for and helped to arrange the classes, which were taught out of UVI and sponsored by the UVI Cooperative Extension Service. Agriculture and CES professionals taught many of the courses. Classes were divided into general themes.
Starting in early February, the first section was six weeks on crop production, covering topics from how to set up an automated irrigation system to principles of crop rotation. In late March and April, the group studied livestock-production techniques. The third section was a full 12 weeks on farm management, focusing on treating a farm as a business and how to make it a profitable one. Computer use and proper record keeping were important parts of this section. Classes were free for members of the cooperative, while nonmembers paid a nominal fee.
Dale Browne, a member of the cooperative, said the classes were important as the beginning of a process that should be developed more fully in time.
"Most of you farmers already know most of what we taught," he said. "For crop production, we need to take the things we learned and apply them: proper pesticide use, crop rotation, how often to fertilize. Take all this information and put it into action."
Livestock is more difficult, but still workable, Browne said.
"To teach farmers how to take livestock to the market," he said, "To go beyond not just seasonal production, but gearing up to bring animals to market the whole year round, in general production. It can be done."
Browne emphasized the importance of record keeping in making agriculture more economically sound.
"Without records, you don’t know what you are working on," he said. "The cooperative is going to meet with those livestock farmers and develop a program so you can see a true picture of production and income development."
Once Browne, Petersen and others had spoken about the program’s merits and thanked all the sponsors, teachers and organizers, each of the class participants were presented with certificates, and special awards were given to the principal organizers and volunteers. After the ceremony was concluded, the throng lined up for a buffet spread and chatted with their classmates and teachers for the next hour.
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Oct. 24, 2007 -- Fifty-four professional and amateur farmers who completed a series of workshops and seminars on farming practices were feted at UVI's St. Croix campus Wednesday evening.
The participants provided a snapshot of the wide segment of Crucian society that wants to see farming continue and grow on St. Croix: UVI professors, society ladies in African-influenced robes and headscarves, retired St. Croix professors and doctors, civic leaders and young professionals, school-aged children in colorful program T-shirts and working men with callused hands and weathered faces beneath carefully arranged dreadlocks.
They all spent the last nine months taking classes together, joined by a common desire to see St. Croix grow green with fresh local crops. For some, farming is as much an expression of heritage and culture as it is a way of making a living and providing wholesome food.
About 70 individuals were seated in UVI's Great Hall for the event. Several notables spoke to the gathering before the certificates and awards were given out.
Commissioner of Agriculture Louis Petersen Jr. said his department is committed to the mission of improving agriculture and making it more profitable through education.
"There is no way we can speak of advanced approaches to agriculture without looking at training," Petersen said. After congratulating the class participants, Petersen lightheartedly said he expected results.
"After tonight, we expect more produce in the marketplace," he said. "We expect more local meats in the marketplace."
The V.I. Farmers Cooperative pushed for and helped to arrange the classes, which were taught out of UVI and sponsored by the UVI Cooperative Extension Service. Agriculture and CES professionals taught many of the courses. Classes were divided into general themes.
Starting in early February, the first section was six weeks on crop production, covering topics from how to set up an automated irrigation system to principles of crop rotation. In late March and April, the group studied livestock-production techniques. The third section was a full 12 weeks on farm management, focusing on treating a farm as a business and how to make it a profitable one. Computer use and proper record keeping were important parts of this section. Classes were free for members of the cooperative, while nonmembers paid a nominal fee.
Dale Browne, a member of the cooperative, said the classes were important as the beginning of a process that should be developed more fully in time.
"Most of you farmers already know most of what we taught," he said. "For crop production, we need to take the things we learned and apply them: proper pesticide use, crop rotation, how often to fertilize. Take all this information and put it into action."
Livestock is more difficult, but still workable, Browne said.
"To teach farmers how to take livestock to the market," he said, "To go beyond not just seasonal production, but gearing up to bring animals to market the whole year round, in general production. It can be done."
Browne emphasized the importance of record keeping in making agriculture more economically sound.
"Without records, you don’t know what you are working on," he said. "The cooperative is going to meet with those livestock farmers and develop a program so you can see a true picture of production and income development."
Once Browne, Petersen and others had spoken about the program’s merits and thanked all the sponsors, teachers and organizers, each of the class participants were presented with certificates, and special awards were given to the principal organizers and volunteers. After the ceremony was concluded, the throng lined up for a buffet spread and chatted with their classmates and teachers for the next hour.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.