Agriculture and Natural Resources programming in Roanoke is focused on the production of fruits and vegetables in commercial and home gardens, and environmental stewardship practices for all gardeners.
Commercial Programs and Resources
ANR VCE brings a variety of resources to local growers including pesticide recertification, soils testing, up-to-date best practices for specific crops, and food safety training and practices. Our office also connects growers to Virginia Tech and Virginia State University specialists throughout the state.
ANR also provides resources and information for the landscape industry. This include laboratory services, pest and disease alerts, pesticide recertification, best management practices, and troubleshooting assistance.
Contact the ANR Extension Agent, Evan O'Neill, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-772-7524 to inquire about programming or to connect to VCE resources.
Roanoke Master Gardeners
Responsible and Sustainable Living
Being a responsible and sustainable steward of the land should incorporate a multitude of different practices as gardeners. Water, soils management, and human interactions with insects and other wildlife are all things taken under consideration for sustainable living and gardening. By learning best practices and utilizing the most up-to-date research and information from our land grant universities, we can all be good stewards while still having attractive and productive gardens! Roanoke takes pride in leadership in water quality and environmental protection.
Visit VCE Master Gardener volunteers at local events to learn more about responsible and sustainable practices!
A few examples of our MG Programming:
VCE - Roanoke offers a walk-in diagnostic clinic and a horticulture Help Desk hotline which is open Monday -Friday from 8:30 am-4:30 pm. Call the Help Desk at 540-776-7178 for a horticulture dialogue.
Community Food Production
MGs work with community gardens through local churches, organizations, and the Roanoke Community Garden Association. They bring their training to the community - helping families grow their own food. They also work to “train the trainer” by educating volunteers and staff so that they can bring gardening knowledge to their communities.
Our MGs teach gardening through home and school gardens. They engage with local K-12 students on topics of soils, insects, botany, gardening, environmental systems, and more! Our MGs are helping reconnect children to the environment and to where their food is coming from.
Mindful of plant improvements and trends, Roanoke MGs work with the Community Arboretum at Virginia Western Community College. This living lab is maintained to introduce you to plants suitable to the area, to expand your knowledge of them and a variety of growing conditions. Tours and seminars engage the community in sustainable practices for rural, suburban, and urban settings. This garden is truly for the benefit of the community.
Speakers Bureau, Programs, and Events
Our MGs speak at seminars throughout the area, many of which are free and open to the public. Look for us at libraries, garden clubs, and organizations. You will also find us at events that promote earth consciousness, health, and gardening. Events include Earth Day, festivals, and garden shows.
Learn more about becoming a Roanoke Master Gardener.
Master Food Volunteers: The Master Food Volunteer Program helps Extension reach more Virginians with up-to-date, research-based knowledge on food preparation, nutrition, food safety, and physical activity. For information about becoming a Master Food Volunteer, Contact Kim Butterfield.
Real Food for Real Life: A community life-long learning program for everyone who eats! These sessions focus on topics such as cooking with herbs and spices, seasonal produce, quick & budget-friendly meals, and more. Classes are regularly offered through our partnership with the Roanoke Valley Library system but are also available, upon request, to your community group or worksite. Contact Kim Butterfield.
Cook Smart, Eat Smart: The Cook Smart, Eat Smart curriculum teaches cooking techniques that can be used to build a repertoire of entrees and side dishes to encourage preparing and eating more meals at home. There is an emphasis on healthy preparation techniques, simple ingredients and limited use of prepared foods. In addition, information is presented to help participants plan, shop and stock a pantry that encourages simple meal preparation. Each session contains several basic cooking techniques and other topics related to preparing and eating meals at home. This is a 4-class series. Contact Kim Butterfield.
Virginia Household Water Quality Program: The objective of the Virginia Household Water Quality Program is to improve the water quality and health of Virginians using private water supplies. Water test results are explained in a helpful meeting, where ways of preventing contamination and treating water quality problems are also addressed. Drinking water clinics are organized by local Family & Consumer Sciences agents and Virginia Tech faculty in the Biological Systems Engineering Department. Anyone with a private water supply system (including wells, springs, and cisterns) may participate.
Home Food Preservation: Roanoke’s Family & Consumer Science agent FCS agent provides a variety of home food preservation workshops designed to teach participants how to safely can, freeze, or dry their own foods. Classes and workshops available seasonally.
ServSafe Food Handler & Manager Trainings & Exams: Since 1991, Extension has offered the ServSafe® Manager Certification Training Course, an accredited food safety certification program developed by the Educational Foundation of the National Restaurant Association. Family and consumer sciences agents offer the program locally to food service workers at restaurants, hospitals, schools, and child care centers. Participants receive instruction about food safety concepts such as sanitation, food storage, safety regulations, pest management, and safe food handling practices. Contact Kim Butterfield.
Customer Service Training: This two hour training specifically targets those who are beginning their careers and will be meeting with the public as part of their work assignment and can be taught as part of an existing program or as a stand-alone program, depending on your specific needs. Contact Kim Butterfield.
SNAP-Ed & Family Nutrition Program
What is SNAP-ED?
Family and Consumer Science (FCS) SNAP-Ed Extension Agents play an important role in reaching limited resource audiences by recruiting, training, and managing volunteers within a region to teach nutrition, health, and weight management programs, in a variety of venues such as schools, farmers markets and grocery stores, using lessons from approved core curricula. FCS SNAP-Ed Agents work with both adults and youth.
FCS SNAP-Ed Agents are funded by USDA through the Virginia Department of Social Services (who administers SNAP, formerly food stamps). FCS SNAP-Ed Agents help meet the funders’ goals of reaching larger number of eligible individuals through broader approaches like train-the-trainer programs.
Tonya Pickett serves the following counties in SW and Central Virginia: Carroll, Montgomery, Giles, Craig, Floyd, Roanoke, Bedford, Franklin, and Patrick County. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for the Family Nutrition Program, you may contact Tonya for more information.
What can your SNAP Ed Agent Do for you?
- Free Curricula Training, Resources, and Support on Nutrition, Cooking, Gardening, and Physical Activity
- Recommendations on Best Practices in Nutrition and Physical Activity
- Encourage healthy lifestyle changes through partnerships with School Health Advisory Boards, Health Coalitions, Policy Councils, and other community organizations by facilitating policy and environmental changes that promote healthier communities
- Needs Assessment
The Family Nutrition Program reaches limited income families, adults and youth, providing science-based nutrition education to help them to make wise nutritional choices, prevent chronic disease and stay on a budget. Contact Margarita Cubas, Debbie Barton, or Lamoryae Mayo for more information.
There are several 4-H Clubs in the Roanoke Valley that focus on horsemanship or shooting sports-- Roanoke Valley 4-H should soon have an Outdoor Adventure club forming, as well. Clubs are for youth between the ages of 9 and 19 and adhere to parliamentary procedures for officer election and administration. Many clubs focus on a particular topic, like archery or dog obedience, but they can also be neighborhood clubs where members work on individual projects and mainly have location in common.
We are always happy to help people start new clubs! All it takes is a handful of kids and one or two adult sponsors willing to devote 3-5 hours a month. Contact Leslie if you would like more information about existing clubs or forming a new one.
Because 4-H is all about positive youth development, we love to support teachers and help them enrich their curricula! One of our most popular topics is the "Beginning of Life" Embryology project. 4-H also has a long history of helping kids develop public speaking and leadership skills in a variety of ways. Roanoke Valley 4-H partnered with local school divisions to bring Character Counts! to our community, and we continue to do in-school character programming. With our focus on Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) programming, the award-winning Project Learning Tree curriculum and nutrition education like Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids, there are many ways that we can aid teachers in the classroom.
Engaging with Communities
Virginia Cooperative Extension specialists in community viability work with Extension agents, campus-based faculty, organizational partners, communities, and individuals to further opportunity and build capacity in five program areas:
- Leadership & Planning
- Community Enterprise and Resiliency
- Community Food System and Enterprises
- Community Planning
- Emerging Community Issues
Examples of our work include training county elected officials, educating entrepreneurs, facilitating collaborative projects, supporting the growth of community food systems and local economies, enhancing agent skills and community capacity in facilitation and leadership, conducting problem-driven research, and creating publications and tools that address critical community needs.
Do you have a question about Community Viability?
Perhaps one of the Community Viability specialists below can help you. Contact a Community Viability specialist or direct a question to them using our Ask an Expertsystem.