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About the Center

Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center

The mission of the Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center is to support the sustainability of agriculture in Virginia. The faculty and staff are dedicated to vegetable and field crop research, Extension, and education programs.

Vision Statement (adopted August 1997)

The vision of the faculty and staff of the Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center is one of service and accountability to agriculture, the University, and the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia through research, Extension, and education programs to attain the following goals:

  • Provide vegetable and field crop industries with efficient, state-of-the-art production and management strategies and technologies through sound research and innovative extension programs.
  • Promote academic programs of the University by participation in graduate student education.
  • Maintain professional stature through participation in appropriate societies, associations, and relevant departments at the University's main campus.

History of the AREC

The history of the Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center can be traced to the late 1890's when a group of truck (vegetable) growers and marketers in the Norfolk area formed the Southern Produce Company. Soon thereafter, they purchased land in the Norfolk area. In 1907, following discussions with the Virginia State Board of Agriculture, the Virginia Experiment Station at Blacksburg, and the United States Department of Agriculture, a vegetable research center at Norfolk, was established. At this time, the USDA assumed the responsibility for personnel salaries and the Station began operations. In 1920, the State assumed responsibilities for the operations of the Station and placed it under the administration of the Department of Education.

By 1912, it was realized that research of a similar nature was needed on the Eastern Shore and on February 13, 1913 land was leased near Tasley for this undertaking. In 1918, the Eastern Shore Station was moved from Tasley to another leased farm just south of Onley where it was located until 1955. During those years, staff would take the ferry to the Eastern Shore to conduct research in this important vegetable area.

On January 1, 1956, the Eastern Shore research activities were moved to the present location near Painter, on state-owned land, a purchase made possible by funds appropriated by the General Assembly in 1954. Money was made available for construction of an office and laboratory building, a garage, shop, storage building and a residence for the farm manager. Since then, additional buildings were constructed which include a greenhouse with attached head-house, a vegetable grading building, a sweet potato curing and storage facility, additional offices and laboratories were added to the main building, and most recently, housing for graduate students was added.

A change in affiliation and administration of the center occurred when the Virginia General Assembly approved a "Memorandum of Agreement" which made the Station a part of Virginia Tech, effective July 1, 1985. This administrative structure continues.

Research and Extension Focus

The primary focus of this center has always been to support this major vegetable production area of Virginia through research and Extension activities. Five, full-time faculties have worked to enable the sustainability of production in the areas of soil fertility and plant nutrient management, horticulture, entomology, plant pathology, and weed science. Research also addresses the rotational crops of importance to the region, plasticulture, and possible alternative crops with potential economic significance.

In addition to faculty, staff includes a team of research supervisors, a farm manager, office service and technology specialists, farm laborers, a mechanic, and a custodian. In recent years, as many as six to eight graduate students annually have conducted research leading to their M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at this facility.