Fayette County to unveil region’s first community farm

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Susanna Wheeler and Brad Woolf raise a high tunnel to be used for the market garden near Fayetteville, WV.

Fayette County officials are set to unveil on Saturday the region’s first community farm, an agricultural initiative designed to support sustainable development.

To occupy the historic Whitlock Farm on W.Va. 16 two miles south of Fayetteville, West Virginia, the project will provide for community gardens, a local food distribution site, sustainable farming educational opportunities, vocational and business development training, and low-cost land access for established farmers.

The historic Whitlock farmhouse has long been a landmark near Fayetteville, West Virginia.

Farm manager Susanna Wheeler is welcoming the public to attend a 1-5 p.m. open house at the farm at 167 Wolf Creek Road, during which Denise Scalph, Fayette County Commission president, will cut the ribbon to officially open the farm to the community.

“Farming is rooted in community, and we want to bring people together and inspire residents to become passionate about agriculture and local food production,” farm manager Susanna Wheeler said of the event.

“The open house is the first step in welcoming the community onto the property in hopes that they will be motivated to stay in touch and be a part of what we can offer over the years.”

Interested citizens should consider this as a place to gather, lease land, and learn about farming practices and traditions, she said.

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The farm was purchased by the Fayette County Farmland Protection Board in 2016 to preserve the land for agricultural use and to create opportunities to advance the food and farm economy in Fayette County.

The Saturday event will include activities for the whole family, including food, music, and will highlight the farm is a hub for community gathering.

The West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition will provide activities for youth, including an obstacle course, fishing in the pond, and a scavenger hunt. A pop-up farmers’ market will offer local goods for purchase and will include Turnrow Appalachian Food Collective, Sprouting Farms, and other area farmers.

Exhibits from supporting partners will include New River Health, WVU Extension, WVSU Extension, and the Food and Farm Coalition.

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