Small Farmer, Volunteer and Agent of the Year Recognized at Annual Conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  December 8, 2017

Contact: Michelle Olgers, Marketing & Communications Dept., 804-524-6964,

VSU Small Farm Outreach Program Presented Annual Awards at 2017 Small Farm Family Conference

The Andy Hankins Small Farmer of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and SFOP Small Farm Agent of the Year awards were presented at the 2017 Small Farm Family Conference in November in Charlottesville, VA. The conference is an annual event hosted by the Cooperative Extension Small Farm Outreach Program (SFOP) at Virginia State University.

Herbert Brown Sr., owner of Browntown Farms in Brunswick County, VA, was the recipient of the Andy Hankins Small Farmer of the Year award. “It was an honor to receive this award,” Brown said. “After receiving this honor, I am even more motivated to achieve my goals of maximizing my yields on crops, increasing sales and promoting agritourism on the farm.”

Cheryl “Charley” Evans was named Volunteer of the Year. Evans, a resident of Prince George County, was recognized for her many hours volunteering at the Small Farm Demonstration Plot at VSU's Randolph Farm over the past year. Upon receiving the news, Evans said, “I was so excited. I felt like what I was doing was helping to produce and then was rewarded for it.”

The inaugural SFOP Small Farm Agent of the Year award went to Cliff Somerville, a long-time farmer from Halifax County, VA, and agent who has been serving small, limited-resource farmers in the state for 30 years. “I was honored for some of my coworkers and for the organization [SFOP] to recognize the service I have provided over the years,” he said.

“We’re really proud of this year’s recipients and are glad to have been able to recognize them at this year’s conference,” said SFOP director William Crutchfield.

The Small Farm Family Conference is a great opportunity for small farmers to network, discover innovative methods and techniques and learn how to be more productive. Crutchfield said, “No matter how experienced one is as a small farmer, everyone can learn something at this conference. Farming can sometimes be isolating, and without exposure to a variety of points of view, small farmers can miss new ideas and trends that can impact their farming operation.”

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.


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Erica Shambley