Rotary learns about agriculture programs

When the Randolph County supervisor for the Tygarts Valley Conservation District spoke with Elkins Rotary members Monday, he gave them four important numbers to consider- 26,000, 1 billion, 2040 and 6.

Joe Gumm said the number 26,000 represents the number of children and adults across the globe that will die each day from starvation and disease; 1 billion people will go to bed hungry in the world each night; 2040 is the year the world will require double the amount of food needed today, and there are not enough young people interested in becoming farmers to meet the growing need; and 6 inches is the depth of topsoil needed to plant food.

The Tygarts Valley Conservation District is made up of five counties, serving Randolph, Barbour, Tucker, Taylor and Upshur. The mission of West Virginia Conservation Agencies is to preserve West Virginia’s natural resources by working with partners to promote soil and water conservation.

Gumm said the districts help by providing education, scholarships and work crews.

“We sponsor Ag in the Classrooms in Upshur County and sponsor the West Virginia Environthon,” Gumm said. “This year the competition was held at the Wood County Fairgrounds where 50 high schools participated. The groups compete in forestry, wildlife, agriculture and soils.”

Gumm said the group sponsors informational gatherings such as the Eat & Reap Dinners, the Tri District Land judging and some programs on Marcellus Shale.

“Right now the Marcellus Shale topic is a hot item,” Gumm said. “We want to help educate the public.”

Gumm also discussed the West Virginia Lime program, which offers a 50/50 cost share, and is aimed at improving grasslands.

“The late Bill Proudfoot helped out on this project quite a bit,” Gumm said.

The Elkwater Fork Dam project will supply safe drinking water to 27,800 residents.

“This is a 54-acre reservoir,” Gumm said. “We are also working on the Shafer’s Fork Mitigation Project, which includes 4 miles of river in Pocahontas and Randolph counties. The project will take 13 months and will help the river flow deeper and cooler. The total cost as $2 million.”

Gumm asked Rotary members if anyone knew what kind of soil is in West Virginia.

“We have Monongahela Silt Loam, and it is present in 45 of 55 counties,” Gumm said. “In 1900, scientists came to Randolph County and took a sample. In 2000, we went to that exact site and dug up a square of the soil where they took the 1900 sample and had it framed. It was from up near Camp Pioneer (in Beverly) at the Troy Yokum farm. The framed soil is on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. If you go there, be sure to look at the Randolph County soil.”

Additional information about the Tygarts Valley Conservation District is available by calling 304-457-3026, or by visiting the office at Route 4, Box 501, Philippi.