By September 21, 2018 Read More →

Agriculture is growing on West Virginia

By CARYN GRESHAM

For the Charleston Gazette-Mail

Brad Gritt displays lettuce grown hydroponically at Gritt’s Farm in Putnam County.
(Gazette-Mail photo by Kenny Kemp)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Since its inception, West Virginia has always had a connection with farming and agriculture. The Great Seal of the State of West Virginia, adopted in September 1863, features a farmer with an ax and plow standing before a cornstalk, as well as a miner with a pickax.

The face of agriculture has changed greatly since the Legislature voted to adopt Joseph H. Diss Debar’s design. In 1890, the Mountain State had 73,000 operating farms. That number peaked at 97,000 in 1935. In 2016, statistics from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture show 20,900 farms totaling 3.6 million acres, with an average of 175 acres per farm.

“As people moved from the farms to the cities for industrial jobs, farms dwindled in size, and farming on a large scale was reduced,” said W.Va. Department of Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt. “Yet, even as that happened, many people maintained smaller farms and relied on them during the Depression.”

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