The mission of the Hampton Roads AREC is to provide leadership in production and health of specialty crops, water management, and environmental sustainability through nationally-recognized research and extension programs. The HRAREC focuses on ornamental, turf, fruit, and vegetable crops, and water quality and management in agricultural and urban ecosystems.
The vision of the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center is to have outstanding applied research, Extension, graduate instruction, and continuing education programs in the horticultural and related sciences to meet the following goals:
- Maintain outstanding research programs in the areas of horticulture and related plant sciences critical to the Commonwealth's programs in agriculture and environmental quality.
- Continue as an outstanding information resource to the people of Virginia, the country, and the world in the areas of environmental horticulture and related plant sciences.
- Provide graduate training of the highest quality for students in horticulture and related plant sciences.
History of the AREC
1906 - The Southern Produce Company, an organization of truck (vegetable) growers and marketers in the Norfolk area, began a series of talks with the Virginia State Board of Agriculture, the Virginia Experiment Station at Blacksburg, and the United States Department of Agriculture about establishing a vegetable research center at Norfolk.
1907 - The Southern Produce Company purchased 58.8 acres six miles northeast of downtown Norfolk at Diamond Springs Road, in Princess Anne County. Later purchases boosted the total acreage to more than 107 acres. In 1920, when the Virginia General Assembly voted to make VTES an autonomous state agency, the Southern Produce Company deeded the land to the state.
A new and larger laboratory was built on the site of the original. Greenhouses were added north of the building. The new office and laboratory building was completed in 1929. The original frame structure that served from 1908 to 1929 was moved to the rear and used as the soils laboratory. The second greenhouse was completed in 1934.
1970 - Because of the decline in the acreage of commercial vegetables in eastern Virginia, as well as an increase in importance of nursery crop production, research activities were re-directed in 1967 to consist primarily of cultural, pest management, and plant improvement projects that deal with nursery and landscape plants including the important service industries. To reflect the changing needs of Virginia growers, the name was changed to the Virginia Truck and Ornamentals Research Station.
1985 - House Bill No. 1541 of the Virginia General Assembly abolished the Virginia Truck and Ornamentals Research Station and reestablished it as a component of the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, part of Virginia Tech. The new name was the Hampton Roads Agricultural Experiment Station.
1994 to present. The role of the Experiment Station is changing again! To reflect this change, our new name is: the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
1998-2000. Renovations began on the office and laboratory building. As old layers of brick are torn down on the 1929 wing, serious structural problems are uncovered. University architects and engineers decide it would be more cost effective to replace the old wing. The 1940 end of the building is updated internally, and designs are drawn up and, after four years, funding secured for the replacement wing.
The project was completed in the fall of 2003, and the grand opening was held the following spring.