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Hands-On Learning

Learning at the Catawba Sustainability Center takes place through a variety of workshops, classes, and demonstrations of sustainable practices in agriculture, forestry, and land management. Virginia Cooperative Extension has dedicated a specialist to the center that will conduct sustainable agriculture education and demonstration programs.

Demonstrations, workshops, and educational programming

In an effort to create more diverse and healthy land use, the center has incorporated several species of trees onto the property. 

Through funding from an Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development grant, the center established and maintains a propagation center for goldenseal, ramps, and black cohosh in order to help forest farmers produce and market medicinal herbs. The sustainable production of medicinal herbs can provide additional or supplemental income for many farmers and is an efficient way to use steep or marginal agricultural land and maturing woodlots.

Another project include a community growers' plot for mushrooms.

A combination of classroom instruction and field demonstrations provide a strong foundation of beekeeping knowledge. 

Over 40 acres of pasture host a mature stand of Native Warm Season Grass, including switchgrass, big bluestem, and Indian grass. These grasses serve as ground bird nesting habitat in the spring, livestock forage during the summer, and biofuel feedstock in the winter.

Silvopasture is a land management conservation practice where trees are integrated into pasturelands for environmental and economic benefits. Currently 12 acres of silvopasture have been installed.

Workshops provide a general understanding of sap and syrup production, and the lucrative market available in the Appalachian Mountains.