Ag Plans Community Events and Trainings, and Issues a Warning

Agriculture commissioner Positive T.A. Nelson introduces Deputy Commissioner Khadija Blyden, left, and Assistant Commissioner Dianna Callwood. (Source photo by Susan Ellis)
Agriculture commissioner Positive Nelson introduces Deputy Commissioner Khadija Blyden, left, and Assistant Commissioner Dianna Callwood. (Source photo by Susan Ellis)

Agriculture Commissioner Positive Nelson on Monday outlined a series of events planned by his department to support the farming community, but first he had a warning for Virgin Islands residents.

Don’t buy meat from anyone but a known livestock farmer, Nelson said. Near the holidays, animals are stolen and butchered by thieves more frequently and then sold to unsuspecting customers.

Nelson pointed out that, only the farmer would know if the animals were on medications that poison the meat.

The St. Thomas/St. John Agriculture and Food Fair will be held Saturday, Nov. 30, and Sunday, Dec. 1, at the Bordeaux Farmer’s Market, Nelson said. This year’s theme is: “AgriCULTURE is AgriFUTURE.”

The St. Croix Agriculture Festival event will be held Feb. 15,16 and 17 with the theme, “Agriculture: Trendy in 2020” at the Agriculture Department Fairgrounds on St. Croix, he said.

Other upcoming events Nelson announced included:
– The Bee Buzzar, Saturday, Nov. 23, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ag Fairgrounds.
– Pig Roast, Sunday, Dec. 8, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on the south lawn of Lorraine Shopping Center.

Nelson also said there were job openings on St. Croix for two butchers, three laborers, two heavy equipment operators, a diesel mechanic, a welder and a forestry coordinator. On St. Thomas, there will be an opening soon for an abattoir assistant director.

The commissioner said the department is encouraging residential gardening and will help participants learn to make the most of their space as well as landscape, compost, recycle and develop green space. Gardeners can sell their produce through the Agriculture marketing division so no food is wasted, Nelson said.

Through other marketing programs, gardeners can participate in the farm-to-hospital or farm-to-school programs and the marketing service program will buy produce from farmers and resell it to the community.

Nelson said in the future he will have further initiatives to announce, including: a backyard farmer’s town hall meeting, bee keeper training and a senior farmer’s market nutrition program.

The Agriculture Department supports the youth with summer programs, Nelson said, and technical skills education. Recently, they helped the Future Farmers of America travel to Indiana.

“We are committed to support the next generation of farmers,” Nelson said.

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