Southside growers looking forward to new state agriculture office


HALIFAX COUNTY (WSLS10) - Sandy McPherson knows a lot about agritourism.

"We have been working in agritourism through the wine trail for a number of years," McPherson explained.

But, despite her experience one thing that she still struggles with is the marketing. She and her husband have a website for their winery and they use Facebook as much as they can, but other than that she just relies on word of mouth and she says many other farmers and growers are in the same situation.

"We kind of leave the marketing to the end because we're not good at it and we don't have a lot of time to spend on it," said McPherson.

She says having help with marketing will not only make farmers and growers more marketbale but will help them communicate with each other better.

That's why a new office has been created within the state department of agriculture to help farmers.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe and state ag officials made the announcement in Pittsylvania County Tuesday.

Gov. McAuliffe says helping farmers is important because agriculture is one of the largest portions of the state's economy.

"Agriculture and forestry contribute $70 billion to the Commonwealth's economy," Gov. McAuliffe emphasized during his remarks on Tuesday.

LaTonya Sadler, Halifax County Tourism executive assistant, says agritourism already draws people from all over the world to the county, so the county, too, has stepped up to help market the farmers in the county by purchasing a new tour bus.

"The whole impetus for getting that bus was to get people out to the far reaches of the county to experience some of the authentic experiences on the farms," Sadler explained.

McPherson says she's glad to see the continued help as the agritourism industry continues to grow in the county and believes that as the word gets out about the new office other farmers and growers will take advantage of it.