VIRGINIA STATE UNIVERSITY, Va. — The Virginia Cooperative Extension Small Farm Outreach Program (VCE SFOP) at Virginia State University (VSU) announced its 2020 Andy Hankins Small Farmer of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and SFOP Small Farm Agent of the Year awards at a virtual ceremony held Jan. 27.
Carolyn Quinn, owner of Dug In Farms in White Stone, Virginia, was the recipient of the Andy Hankins Small Farmer of the Year award. Quinn began farming six years ago after moving from Washington, D.C. where she worked as a lobbyist. She raises vegetables, cut flowers and runs a farmers market on her farm. Quinn grows produce year round in two high tunnels she received through a program funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Sheila Jackson was named the Volunteer of the Year for her work with the Minority and Veteran Farmers of the Piedmont, a grassroots non-profit farming organization that works with the SFOP and maintains community gardens at the George Washington Carver Agricultural Research Center in Rapidan, Virginia. Jackson maintains a thriving herb garden at the center.
Michael Carter Jr., state program assistant for SFOP, was named the Small Farm Agent of the Year. He is also coordinator for the Virginia Small Farm Resource Center, an online platform that connects farmers and ranchers to resources and tools that help their farm operations become profitable and sustainable. Carter is an 11th generation farmer and operates Carter Farms in Orange County, which has been in his family for over 100 years. He raises ethnic vegetables and often gives workshops on growing African produce that help educate and raise cultural awareness in the agriculture industry.
William Crutchfield, SFOP director, said that each of the winners are deserving of the awards because of their commitment to agriculture and to their communities. “Without dedicated and hardworking individuals like these supporting our programs, SFOP could not be a success,” Crutchfield said. “These individuals are giving their time and talents to not only support our programs, but also support their communities through their farming efforts and support of food banks and farmers markets.”
The Small Farm Outreach Program typically announces the award winners at its annual Small Farm Conference each fall, but the 2020 conference was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
–Virginia Cooperative Extension