New display introduces travelers to state’s farm commodities

virginia logoBecause agriculture is everywhere in Virginia, the Mecklenburg County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee recently presented a colorful map to the Virginia Welcome Center on Interstate 85 South at Bracey to familiarize visitors with the state’s different agricultural regions.

The interactive map highlights the state’s top 20 agricultural commodities. It was produced in partnership with Virginia’s Agriculture in the Classroom program and will be a permanent display in the welcome center.

“When visitors come into Virginia from North Carolina, this is the first welcome center they see,” explained Betty Upton, chairman of the committee. “We are passionate about educating children and adults about the importance of agriculture, and this is the first display at a welcome center in Virginia that introduces people to the top commodities in the state.”

Upton said the 6-foot-wide map includes two sets of cards, one for children and another for older visitors, which can be matched to regions of the map where different agricultural commodities are produced.

More than 147,000 travelers visit the Welcome Center at Bracey each year, said Tourism Relations Manager Alice Vaughan. “Agritourism is becoming more popular, and people want to know where products come from.”

Tammy Maxey, senior education manager for Virginia AITC, said, “Education beyond the classroom led to the creation of the map and activity.” Among educators served by AITC, “this was a highly requested piece that can be duplicated for public festivals and fairs.”

Maxey explained that the AITC program, the Mecklenburg County Farm Bureau and Virginia Farm Bureau worked together to develop the map, which was funded by donations from Virginia Grown, Mecklenburg Farm Bureau and other partners.

For Mecklenburg Farm Bureau President Irvin Matthews, it is a project that has come full circle. Matthews worked on construction of Interstate 85 in 1964 as a supervisor of ground forces for Talbott-Marks Co. He oversaw the groundwork for the location where the welcome center was built.

Now he is excited to see the growth of markets for agricultural products in Virginia. “This map will help promote agriculture in Virginia tourism,” he said. “Now travelers will be able to see what we produce.”

The AITC program is funded by donations received through the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, a nonprofit organization that receives financial and administrative support from Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

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