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, conducted a series of talks with the Virginia State Board of Agriculture, the Virginia Experiment Station at Blacksburg, and the United States Department of Agriculture concerning establishing a truck crops research center in Norfolk.
1907 - The Southern Produce Company purchased 58.8 acres northeast of downtown Norfolk in Diamond Springs in Princess Anne County. Later purchases boosted the total to more than 107 acres. In 1920 the Southern Produce Company ceded the station to the Commonwealth, and the General Assembly voted to make the Virginia Truck Experiment Station a State Agency.
A new and larger laboratory was built on the site of the original facilty and greenhouses were added. 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 and renamed the Hampton Roads Agricultural Experiment Station.
In 1994, the name was changed to the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
1998-2003. The 1940 wing was renovated with new laboratories and office space. The job was completed in the fall of 2003, and the grand opening was held the following spring.