~ Press release issued by Virginia Farm Bureau Federation
LOVETTESVILLE — It’s baseball season, but Loudoun County students are swapping a different set of trading cards this spring—ones featuring local farmers.
For the sixth year, Loudoun County Economic Development and Loudoun County Public Schools’ School Nutrition Services teamed up to host the popular farmer trading cards program. The program distributes the cards to county elementary students to educate them about where their food comes from and to pique their interest in future agricultural careers. Each card highlights a different farmer and their business.
“It’s been a lot of fun to see how much the kids really do enjoy them,” said Tia Walbridge, Loudoun County Farm Bureaupresident. “It’s a really creative way to get more kids engaged and thinking about agriculture as something they might get involved in.”
This year’s set of trading cards feature nine Loudoun farmers with a variety of operations. Showcasing the area’s agricultural diversity, the farmers produce a range of commodities including animal fiber, cut flowers, hay, herbs, grains, livestock, microgreens, poultry, tea, vegetables and wool.
Chris Lutman of Lutman Farm grows corn, hay, soybeans and wheat with his family on 1,300 acres. As one of the featured farmers, he hopes students will gain an interest in modern agriculture and understand that larger farms like his are “a lot more localized than you might think.
“Even though we’re a commercial operation and our grain goes into a big bin so to speak, it’s fed to animals that essentially make it back to the supermarket,” Lutman said.
In addition to being featured on the cards, Lutman and the other farmers appear in videos that allow them to share their farms with the students.
“It’s a great way to jumpstart their minds,” Lutman said. “There’s many different directions you can go in the agriculture community.”
According to the most recent Census of Agriculture, conducted in 2017, Loudoun had 1,259 farms on 121,932 acres that year, and the market value of all agricultural products sold was more than $43 million.
And while Loudoun has lost farmland over the years, farmers and their contributions remain a vital part of the county, noted Walbridge.
“It’s important to make sure we promote that you can have your own farm, and that you can produce food for your community,” she said. “There’s such a direct link to the producer of your food. These trading cards really do help show the kids that there are people right here in their community raising sheep, raising cows, and who you can buy your food from.”