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Extension fundraiser offers ‘berry good’ deals

By TRAVIS HANDY
travis@southwesttimes.com

Pulaski County Extension Office is asking locals to “think spring” and buy berry plants as part of a fundraiser to support extension programs.

The Extension Office is taking orders for three varieties of berry plants through March 1, with proceeds going to supporting programs in the areas of agriculture, family and consumer science and Pulaski County 4-H programs.

According to Chris Lichty, 4-H youth development extension agent, this is the first time the Pulaski office has held this kind of fundraiser, and the staff is really hoping the public will get behind it.

“The money is not going to pay salaries,” Lichty said. “We are using it wholly as a fundraising tool for programs in the community.”

Lichty explained some of what the extension office’s programs do for families and youth in the area. He said the programs are volunteer-led and community supported and expressed how strong the partnership between the community and the extension is.

Scott McElfresh, extension agent for agriculture and natural resources, works with local producers, beef and dairy farmers and serves as a resource to the community in areas like gardening, horticulture and a broad range of other needs.

Unit Coordinator and Senior Extension Agent, Sarah Burkett, serves the community through family and consumer sciences, food, nutrition and health. She conducts programs to teach school children to make better food choices, to look at calories and nutritional value and take interest in being healthy. Some other programs Burkett is involved with teach families about budgeting, meal planning and cooking.

4-H Youth Development is the largest comprehensive youth development program in the nation. According to the extension webpage, the program “educates young people, ages five to 18, through a variety of experiential techniques that encourage hands-on, active learning.”

The extension office is offering a number of berries to choose from in the fundraiser, including two varieties of strawberries, one kind each of blackberries and raspberries, and four varieties of blueberries. The plants range in price from $5 to $6.50, depending on the variety of berry desired.

Lichty said the plants are ordered through a wholesaler, giving the opportunity to purchase them at a lower price than in stores or catalogs. They will be shipped bare-root and dormant and should be back sometime at the end of March, at the perfect time for planting. Instructions for planting and care will be included with the plants the day of pickup.

“The berry sale will help raise funds for our office, but it’s a good way for people to buy local, grow local and eat local,” said Lichty. He hopes it might change the way some people think about where and how their food is grown.

People interested in buying berry plants are encouraged to stop by the extension office at 143 Third St. NW, Suite 3, Pulaski to pick up an order form. Payments must be received with the orders. They may also request to have an order form sent through the mail by calling 980-7761, or receive one online by emailing  HYPERLINK “mailto:amary@vt.edu” amary@vt.edu.

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