Help on the Farm
West Virginia’s farms, for the most part, are family owned and worked. As I have called people who registered their farms with the WVFarm2u website some time in the past five years, I am saddened to find so many phone numbers have been disconnected, websites closed down, facebook pages without any entries. I have spoken to at least five people who say they no longer work their farm because of advancing age or illness and no one else in the family is interested.
There is no doubt about it, farming is hard work. Long hours. Low pay. So many farmers have to have a full time job away from the farm ON TOP OF all the farm work in order to make ends meet.
There are demands to sell the land for residential development. Maybe not right now with the economy being the way it is, but it happened before and it will happen again. The eastern Panhandle has seen a great loss of farmland as bedroom communities for Washington DC have edged into the lower price land here in West Virginia.
WWOOF is the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. The organization started in 1971 in the United Kingdom and has spread worldwide, providing a service to match interested volunteers with farms that need labor but can not afford to pay. Currently 14 West Virginia Farms are listed with opportunities. Farms do not need to be USDA certified organic to participate.
Grow Food connects farmers interested in teaching with people interested in farming. Volunteers work on a farm for a weekend or longer. Families can give kids a real farming adventure and learning experience to see where the food they eat really comes from. People interested in learning to farm can spend some time working in exchange for room, board, and experience and build a career for a lifetime. And GoodFood’s mission is also to help grow a community of 50 million new small-scale organic farmers. That’s how many it will take to break America’s dependency on factory food. Currently there are 8 listings for West Virginia farm work opportunities.
Students at WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design can opt for an internship. Dr. Barton Baker, chair of the Division of Plant and Soil Sciences, stated that most students work at the Small Farm Center but that arrangements can be made at other farms in the state. The farm must be approved; the essence of the process is to be sure it will be an educational experience for the student, not just labor. The student would need to be taught all aspects of the farm management and operation. For information on how to approved to be a location for a Ag student intern contact Dr. Baker at 304-293-6023 and email Barton.Baker@mail.wvu.edu .