George Washington Carver Food Enterprise Center

Author: GWCFEC

The Lost Ancestral Peanut Of The South Is Revived

The Carolina African runner, like many heirloom cultivars of the South, was first brought to America in the 1600s by enslaved West Africans, who grew it in their backyard gardens. It was the South’s ancestral nut, memorialized in songs, peanut fritters, peanut soup and in Charleston’s signature candy, the peanut-and-molasses groundnut cake. According to reports from the era, vendors of groundnut cakes would go down to the city’s wharves when casks of molasses were being unloaded, scraping it up to boil for the cakes, then adding butter, egg white, parched peanuts and lemon peel. They were sold for a penny by free black women called “maumas” sitting on three-legged stools from dawn to dusk. All the groundnut maumas were shut down as part of local sanitation efforts, along with the World War I sanitation initiatives set forth by Herbert Hoover.

This year, says Parker, he’s getting Ziploc gallon bags of peanuts from landscape architect and heirloom seed grower Nat Bradford of Seneca, S.C., who grew out 1,000 pounds of the peanuts this year. “The flavor is intense,” says Bradford. “It’s like you turned up the volume on a peanut. Even the fragrance of the peanut bush is amazing.”

By the Great Depression, the nut had nearly vanished — displaced by larger and more popular Spanish and Virginia peanuts. (Virginia peanuts were brought over from Bolivia in the 1840s.) A mere 40 seeds survived, tucked away by plant breeders in the 1930s in a cold-storage seed vault at North Carolina State University.

Now, the Carolina African runner peanut is back from the brink.

The Lost Ancestral Peanut Of The South Is Revived

A tiny pink peanut is not a white rhinoceros. Nor is it a green turtle or a Bengal tiger. But until a few years ago the Carolina African runner peanut – at one time, the South’s most praised peanut, packed with flavor and rich with oil – was much like the rhinoceros and turtle and tiger.

The first commercial crop of 15 million peanuts was harvested this past November — slated for chefs, artisanal peanut butter makers, and cold-pressed peanut oil.

“The peanut,” says chef Forrest Parker, appointed a 2016 South Carolina Chef Ambassador, “is small to the point of being diminutive, but when roasted has the most intense peanut flavor I’ve ever experienced, and continues to be a revelation every time I taste it.”

County Continues Work at Carver School

Culpeper County Environmental Services Director Paul Howard told the Building & Grounds Committee Thursday morning that Lantz Construction would finish its site work by Feb. 15, 2017 as part of a $399,400 contract approved in September by the board of supervisors.

The building & grounds committee also heard Thursday morning from Charles Jameson, chairman of the George Washington Carver Regional High School Alumni Association, about the group’s efforts to establish a museum on the first floor in the main building. He said the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation is awarding the effort $4,500 and that alumni recently contracted with historian and curator Terry Miller to develop an initial Carver exhibit.

The display will focus on the school’s first agriculture teacher, Overton Rexford Johnson, born in 1923 in Dinwiddie County. Johnson was among the 19-member staff in place when the Carver school first opened on Oct. 1, 1948, according to Miller’s research.

County cares for Carver school complex

Roger Williams honored with Maryland LCV’s John V. Kabler Memorial Award

MLCVOne of our own

On October 13, 2016, a small group of Maryland beekeepers was honored with the John V. Kabler Memorial Award, given annually by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, for leading a citizen coalition that pushed the MD Legislature to pass a first-of-its-kind legislation in the country. By the end of 2017, Maryland’s retail shelves will be devoid of a family of pollinator killing pesticides called neonicotinoids, or “neonics”. Since then, two other states have followed suit, with more anticipated in 2017.

A member of that small group of beekeepers, Roger Williams, has moved to Culpeper, specifically to work on the New Farmers Training Program development in progress at the George Washington Carver Agriculture Center. With a rich and growing awareness of the possibilities for nutrient-dense food production, he is hoping the Carver Center will become a beacon of research and education in this “growing field” of knowledge.

The Carver Food Enterprise Team congratulates Roger Williams.

Jamie Vere Nicoll

It is with great sadness we inform you of the death of our first food enterprise advisor, Jamie Vere Nicoll.  Jamie died on September 15, following a long and spirited battle against cancer.  Jamie approached everything with spirit and passion.  His love for creating and sharing great food was surpassed only by his love for his family.  He was a steadfast supporter of our efforts to bring a food enterprise center to the northern Piedmont, and helped us understand and interpret the challenges and complexities we face.   He and his wife, Rachel, donated numerous pieces of commercial equipment for our facility. Jamie was an advisor, a mentor and a friend, and we will miss him. We honor his life and his contributions.




MISSION: To enable Virginia farmers to achieve 300 days of livestock grazing by facilitating better pasture management and environmental stewardship.



By: Carl C. Stafford
Extension Agent


Wintering cost is one of our biggest expenses in producing beef cattle. John Howe, Spotsylvania Extension Agent, wrote an article explaining the difference in the cost of a pound of dry matter from pasture and a pound from harvested feed. He found that the equipment harvested feed can run 3 to 4 times the cost of that harvested by cattle.

The big difference with grazing would be the significantly lower equipment cost accompanied by a lower fertilizer requirement as nutrients stay in place. Beef cattle farmers are crop farmers – your crop is pasture. The cattle are your harvesters and just like your tractor, they have to be used to be justified. Look at them as employees and keep them busy working for you. The more you use them to harvest what you grow the lower your annual carrying cost will be. In some states it is common practice to haul cattle to the feed, maybe we can justify doing this if it supports our bottom line.

Kansas State Economist, Kevin Dhuyvetter, found in his study of the most efficient beef producers that herd size mattered but was not the only route to efficiency. Of course we know the biggest producers can buy and sell in volume and use equipment to most advantage, although they have a lot of it. He found that small producers could compete if they were able to control their winter feed cost. Grazing in the dormant season is how they did it.

Lower stocking rates support this type of management as surplus grass is accumulated during the growing season for use in the dormant season. In the end, grazing a day in the winter helps you keep more of the revenue you do make. Look up Graze 300 VA by following the link provided if you want to learn more on this.

We can all agree that in order to improve the efficiency of any enterprise you cut the biggest expense first. Since winter feeding is it with cattle, this is the logical place to start to improve your net revenue. With a soft cattle market, changing net revenue is about all the control you have left. Keep in sight the additional value the market offers from weaning and vaccinations. The net from these is paying off now.

Most of you have equipment investments that you feel are necessary in order to be in the cattle business. Timely hay harvest is one of the justifications I hear. You cannot trust someone else to get the job done on time. On the other hand, some of you have very low equipment investment and go out into the market and “harvest” your hay from those with excess.

This is a good year to buy hay since there is an abundant supply available. If you are buying you have some control over quality as you can shop around. You will be at the mercy of the market during times of shortage but you can make the most of the surplus in seasons like 2016.

Carl Stafford speaks at the “State of The Community”

Senior Extension Agent Carl Stafford speaks on the state of local agriculture at a yearly program held by the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce.

Carl C. Stafford
Senior Extension Agent, ANR, Animal Science
Certified Forage and Grassland Professional
President Virginia Association of Agricultural Extension Agents
101 S. West St.
Culpeper, VA 22701
Fax: 540-727-3451
Cell: 540-359-5532
Office: 540-727-3435, ext. 351

The Stone Soup Project

Stone Soup ProjectStone Soup is a collaborative project of the Virginia Cooperative Extension and the GWCFEC, with funding from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development through its grant to support agriculture, food processing, and workforce development training at the George Washington Carver Agriculture Center in Culpeper County. Further support for this training is provided by the Culpeper Department of Social Services, Rural Madison and Rappahannock Goodwill Industries. The first pilot in Culpeper finished on October 27, with the second finishing in Madison on December 14, 2015 Funding will be sought for making this a permanent training program for our region in 2016.

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