Catawba Sustainability Center
Innovate. Collaborate. Sustain.
CATAWBA SUSTAINABILITY CENTER
Virginia Tech’s Catawba Sustainability Center is a 377 acre farm
property situated in the beautiful Catawba Valley of Virginia
and serves as a living laboratory to advance environmental
stewardship and community engagement to provide a learning
environment for the research, teaching, and demonstration of
sustainable practices in agriculture, forestry, and land
management. As a member of Virginia Tech’s College of
Outreach and International Affairs, the work at the Catawba
Sustainability Center transcends all University Departments to
exemplify the notion that learning is interdisciplinary and
occurs in both the classroom and on the farm with hands in the
soil. The Catawba Sustainability Center strives on its local
partnership with the County of Roanoke, as well as a close
relationship with Virginia Cooperative Extension. The Catawba
Sustainability Center offers a space for faculty, students of all
ages, community members, and visitors just passing through to
learn about sustainable agriculture production, agroforestry,
water quality monitoring, wetland restoration, and much more.
Catawba Sustainability Center seeks to nurture budding farmers with the Small Farm Incubator Plots program
The Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center (CSC) is excited to announce that it is now taking applications for its 2018 Small Farm Incubator Program. The Small Farm Incubator Program works to support young and beginning farmers by providing access to land, tools and equipment, pre-season land preparation, educational programming, and technical expertise. CSC’s objective is to grow viable, independent farm businesses and to serve as a model new-farmer program by providing access to land and resources in a low-risk environment. Click here to apply.
Beginning Beekeepers Workshop - April 2nd, 2018
This one day workshop will prepare the beginning beekeeper for a successful season. A combination of classroom instruction and field demonstrations will provide the participant with a strong foundation of beekeeping knowledge. Led by Virginia certified beekeeper Mark Chorba, topics will cover everything from starting out to caring for you colony and harvesting honey. The fee for the workshop is $100 and includes a beekeeping book and lunch on Saturday. The class will run from 9:00 to 4:00 at the Catawba Community Center in Catawba, Virginia. Register Today!
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.
Partnerships: Department of Crop, Soils, and Environmental Science (CSES) in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), VA Division of Forestry (VADOF), and the American Chestnut Foundation
Agroforestry is the integration of trees into a farm landscape for economic and environmental benefits. In an effort to create more diverse and healthy land use, the Center has incorporated several species of trees onto the property. http://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/ANR/ANR-69/ANR-69_pdf.pdf
Partnerships: Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation (FREC) in the College of Natural Resources and Environment (CNRE)
VCE has dedicated a specialist to the Catawba Sustainability Center that will conduct sustainable agriculture education and demonstration programs.
Partnership: Virginia Cooperative Extension http://www.ext.vt.edu/
The StREAM project brings together scientists and educators in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and the greater Virginia Tech community to develop a nationally recognized research facility that can be used to attract major competitive funding, improve undergraduate and graduate teaching, and enhance outreach opportunities. http://www.bse.vt.edu/site/streamlab/
Partnerships: Biological Systems Engineering (College of Engineering), Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS), and the Virginia Water Resources Research
The Backcross Breeding Orchard will breed American chestnut trees with those resistant to the chestnut blight. Installation of Phase I of the orchard took place during April 2014 and is expected to produce a 300 – 500 tree orchard within five years.
Partnerships: American Chestnut Foundation www.acf.org/ , Catawba Landcare
The restoration of once native wetlands enhances water quality for the Chesapeake Bay, as well as provides habitat for various species of insects, reptile, amphibians and water fowl. The installation of wetlands improves the way water drains on the farm landscape, and provides education and enhanced scenery for visitors.
Partnerships: Biological Systems Engineering
This project provides land and resources for beginning and expanding farmers and entrepreneurs. In 2017, six growers successfully produced vegetables, flowers, and sorghum.
Partnerships: Local growers and entrepreneurs, Virginia Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Coalition
Roanoke County and Virginia Tech are collaborating to construct trails that connect hikers from the Appalachian Trail to Catawba via the Catawba Sustainability Center property. This project includes a trailhead and an area for parking at the Center. The initial phase will open several miles of new trail and a new access point to McAfee Knob. Construction is underway and the trail system is slated to open soon.
Partnerships: Roanoke County, Pathfinders, Appalachian Trail Conservancy
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.
The Center provides hands-on learning opportunities to students interested in taking on projects related to our events and activities.