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#Fridaysonthefarm: New Growth on a West Virginia Family Farm Benefits Community

#Fridaysonthefarm: New Growth on a WV Farm Benefits Community Web HeaderStory and primary photos by Rebecca Haddix, NRCS West Virginia; historical news photos courtesy of JP Family Farms; cover photo by Paul More for FPR

Each Friday, meet farmers, producers and landowners through our #Fridaysonthefarm stories. Visit local farms, ranches, forests and resource areas where NRCS and partners help people help the land.  CLICK HERE to view all #Fridaysonthefarmstories.



This Friday, we visit JP Family Farms in Joy, West Virginia, where Peggy and John Burgess grow crops year-round in high tunnels for economic growth and community service.

#Fridaysonthefarm: New Growth on a WV Farm Benefits Community Web Map

 

DEEP ROOTS

John Burgess was born and raised on a 300 acre farm in Doddridge County, West Virginia.  On their wedding day, John's parents purchased the farm, where they raised five children and managed a successful cow-and-calf operation.

After high school and military service in Korea, John returned to Doddridge County and a high-school classmate who shared his love of the land - Peggy. Also raised on a farm, Peggy would become his wife and eventually build JP Farms with him.

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 John Burgess with two steers at the local 4H county show (left) and father William (right).

John and Peggy Burgess bought 50 acres of farmland from his parents in 1978. Four years later, they moved into a home on the farm, where they've doubled the land and lived for better than 30 years. 

Today John manages farm construction, while Peggy handles the planning, planting and marketing.  She considers the farm operations "her baby."

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As the former child nutrition director for Doddridge County schools for 33 years, Peggy says: “I understand how food and nutrition impact people’s lives. I think that the taste and nutritional value of fresh food makes a lot of difference.”

NEW GROWTH

When Peggy retired as child nutrition director, she became involved in West Virginia University's Master Gardener Program and the local Annie's Project.

Annie was a woman who dedicated herself to agriculture. 

Annie's Project, a hands-on agricultural class, teaches women how to keep financial and crop records. It introduces participants to the diverse agencies that work with women in agriculture through small farm opportunity days, small farm conferences, grazing conferences and more.  

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It was here that Peggy learned about NRCS and its programs.
 
Working with NRCS, the USDA's primary conservation agency, Peggy initially installed a high tunnel through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) High Tunnel Initiative. 

“From the beginning when Peggy first signed up with NRCS, I could see that she was very passionate about agriculture, about vegetable production," says Jeff Griffith, NRCS District Conservationist who covers Doddridge, Gilmer, Harrison, and Lewis Counties in West Virginia. "She was getting involved in the market, she was eager to learn, and therefore we were very excited to see how our programs would work with her to help her address her resource concerns." 

The following year, Peggy installed another high tunnel through the EQIP Strike Force Initiative, which increases investments and creates opportunities in persistent poverty-stricken rural communities.  Micro Irrigation Systems for both high tunnels were installed under the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) Program.

She enhanced these additions with farm composting through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

GIVING BACK

As a native West Virginia resident, Peggy takes pride in working the land, working for her community and working with her community. 

Peggy regularly attends the Doddridge County and Ritchie County farmers markets, where she offers high quality produce at reasonable prices and supports the financial assistance programs for community members.  

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At the Doddridge County Farmers Market shown here, Peggy hands broccoli to Rick Oyler.  Now one of Peggy's CSA customers, Oyler was the Special Education Director during her entire 33 year career at Doddridge County Schools.

She participates in the local farm to school program, getting more nutritious foods to the kids.

Peggy also owns and manages a small Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group currently with nine shareholders delivering food locally, keeping costs down and quality high.

“Peggy is making a high quality product available to local people that may not have access otherwise. She also makes her farm open to people who are interested in getting into this type of operation," says Griffith. "It’s very rewarding for us as an agency to see how the programs have benefited Peggy on her farm and also how it impacts the community." 

Visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov to learn more about voluntary conservation near you. 

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Follow the #Fridaysonthefarm and other voluntary conservation stories on @USDA_NRCS Twitter  and @USDA Facebook. View the interactive ESRI storymap of this #Fridaysonthefarm feature.