Loudoun Co. school kids are swapping Farmer Trading Cards

Agriculture is a good career, and there is a lot of opportunity in Loudoun County, Virginia.

For the sixth year in a row, Loudoun Economic Development and the Loudoun County Public Schools’ Nutrition Services office have partnered to distribute Farmer Trading Cards to elementary students in Loudoun County Public Schools, to spark some interest in pursuing an agricultural career.

The cards feature actual Loudoun County farmers, and their stories.

“The kids absolutely love the program. They compare and trade cards with each other, just like I did with baseball cards back in the day. And the kids are star-struck when they meet the farmers in person,” said Buddy Rizer, executive director at Loudoun Economic Development.

The featured farmers are going on tour, visiting students at their schools.

Since they are like baseball cards, the program is timed to baseball season, but not just baseball season.

Loudoun Economic Development and the Loudoun County Public Schools’ Nutrition Services office partnered to give out the trading cards of farmers. (Courtesy Loudoun Economic Development)

“We try to introduce our Farmer Trading Cards each year around opening day of Major League Baseball. Of course, this year the timing was off because of the baseball lockout. But farming season always starts on time,” Rizer said.

Loudoun Economic Development pays for the cards. This year 100,000 cards were produced and are being distributed, at no costs to schools. They are being distributed to elementary students at Loudoun’s public, charter, private and home schools.

The farmers featured are chosen based on a nomination process and staff picks.

Loudoun agriculture goes well beyond vineyards. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the county has more than 1,200 commercial farms, and produces the most grapes, hops and honey of any county in Virginia. It is also the top Virginia county for the number of llamas and alpacas.

And farm operators in Loudoun County are diverse.

“We have generational farmers, second career farmers who want to get back to their roots, first time farmers and women and minority-owned farms,” Rizer said.

Loudoun County leads the state for farmers owned by women, minorities and military veterans.

The Farmer Trading Card program may contribute to healthier eating habits at an early age.

“Student consumption of produce appears to increase when they know where it was grown or if they’ve met the person who grew it. The personal connection seems to encourage eating healthy,” said Elizabeth Mills, director of nutrition in Loudoun County Public Schools.

Loudoun County Public Schools’ Nutrition Services program is committed to buying a portion of its produce from local businesses each year.

Featured farmers on this year’s Farmers Trading Cards, who go by their first names:

  • Farmer Sharon of Sweet Piedmont Flowers;
  • Farmer Elaine of Fields of Athenry;
  • Farmer David of Second Spring Farm;
  • Farmer Jens-Peter of Living Green Aquaponics & Microgreens;
  • Farmer Yung Joon of Green Hills Garden & Nursery
  • Farmer Jim of Mountain View Farm
  • Farmer Vishali of Sprouting Roots Farm
  • Farmer Chris of Lutman Farm
  • Farmer Eden and Lincoln of Rivenwool Animal Rescue

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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