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Virginia State University to host Virginia Berry School

strawberry season
(© Tim UR –

While learning the alphabet, children are taught “A is for apple,” but at the Virginia Berry School, experienced and beginning berry growers can learn that “A” also stands for an abundance of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.

The two-day school will be held virtually Feb. 18-19 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. E.T. and will teach lessons on the ABCs of growing berries as a profitable niche crop.

The event is hosted by the Virginia Cooperative Extension program at Virginia State University.

“The berry industry in Virginia continues to grow and markets expand, and the berry school provides vital information to growers about this potentially profitable niche crop,” said Dr. Reza Rafie, Cooperative Extension horticulture specialist at VSU.

Berry experts from Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio will teach online sessions and give demonstrations on soil preparation, planting, selecting the best varieties, pruning, pest and disease management and harvesting.

Participants will learn about the production processes, associated costs, varieties of berries, potential challenges and marketing strategies. Registration is $20 per person.

To register, visit, click on the event and then click on the registration link.

Rafie has researched berries for over 15 years and has taught in-person berry workshops for more than a decade. This year’s virtual school will be the first two-day comprehensive program hosted by VSU and VCE on berry production.

“This virtual school gives even more growers around the country an in-depth look at how to successfully grow berries in their regions,” Rafie said. “Regardless of where they live, experienced and beginning berry growers can learn the latest research and information about starting a berry enterprise and best practices for production management.”

While growing berries can be lucrative, it is also labor-intensive and having knowledge and a sustainable management plan can reduce risks considerably, he added.

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, contact Jessica Harris ( or call (804) 524-5964 / TDD (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

augusta free press
augusta free press