Ferrum News

Ferrum College Announces Partnership with Riverstone Farm in Floyd


Since last fall the campus has enjoyed locally grown produce from one of the region’s first commercial-scale certified organic farms.

Ferrum, Va. (March 15, 2013) – Ferrum College announced today that Riverstone Organic Farm, one of the region’s first commercial-scale, certified organic, Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) certified vegetable and sheep farm operations, has joined the growing roster of its local food purveyors. The campus community has already benefited from this venture – since last fall dining hall patrons have enjoyed a variety of Riverstone Farm fruits and vegetables grown just 13 miles from campus.

The 80-acre Riverstone Farm, located along the headwaters of the Little River in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Floyd County, grows over 50 different varieties of Certified Organic vegetables, fruit and flowers.  In all, the Farm produces over 200 fresh-from-the-field varieties of both familiar and unusual crops.  State-of-the-art greenhouses and leading edge growing practices allow Riverstone to produce flavorful varieties of organic vegetables for the early and late season markets.

This year, Riverstone will grow crops specifically for Ferrum College including head lettuces, salad greens and baby spinach, tomatoes, cabbages, peppers, potatoes, and carrots. These crops will be made available to the College throughout the year, but especially during the peak seasons of spring and fall, when students are present to enjoy the bounty.

“Ferrum College’s investment in local organic food places the College at the forefront of an issue that is increasing in importance year by year. By supporting local organic farm food, the College helps develop new markets and hence encourages young people who want to make a living on the land. The new agriculture – small scale, intensive, high quality, environmentally sensitive – provides economic development opportunities for rural Appalachian communities that struggle to remain economically viable,” said Riverstone Farm owner Woody Crenshaw.

“We’re aiming to be part of the emerging local food system. Floyd and surrounding counties could become the Vermont of the southeast and we want to be part of making that happen,” continued Crenshaw. “Building long term business relationships with institutions like Ferrum College makes it more possible to attain that goal because it gives Riverstone the incentive to invest in our farm and work to become better farmers and suppliers.”

College president Jennifer Braaten echoed Crenshaw’s comments.  “We’re committed at Ferrum to environmental responsibility and supporting local businesses.  By partnering with Woody Crenshaw and Riverstone in this ‘farm to table’ venture we’ve furthered both of those objectives and provided our students, faculty and staff with the freshest fruits and vegetables available,” said Braaten.  “We’re extremely pleased that Riverstone Farm will be growing crops particularly suited to the requirements of our food services division.”

Braaten also noted that Riverstone has the potential to become a learning laboratory for Ferrum College students. Last year College students were given opportunities to tour and work at the Farm and Riverstone hopes to expand these offerings throughout 2013.

Mike Martin, Ferrum College Director of Dining Services, sees the long-term goal of Riverstone Farm becoming part of a network for all types of local ingredients. “With continued support from all of our local suppliers and our continued reduction of processed foods in Dining Services, Ferrum College has remained on the cutting edge for local food development. Our partnership with Riverstone Organic Farm allows us to provide the campus with the best quality produce available in our area,” said Martin.

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In the photograph (left to right): Mike Martin, Ferrum College Director of Dining Services; Woody Crenshaw, Owner, Riverstone Farm owner; Jennifer Braaten, Ferrum College President; and Brett Nichols, Farm Manager, Riverstone Farm; met recently at Ferrum College.


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