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Cannery funding is an investment

In response to Sam Campbell’s article in the May 4 edition of The Farmville Herald, headlined ”Bartlett should be terminated,” I feel compelled to both commend and defend the decision of the Prince Edward Board of Supervisors, County Administrator Wade Bartlett and the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission to support the county’s cannery.

Campbell claimed that the $80,986 budget line item allocated is not justified and that the cannery is a “bad investment.”

Please stop in and take a tour the next time you are near the cannery. You’ll learn that there are two different services available, one for residents to preserve produce for personal use and another to assist Virginia farms in making food products for resale.

In 2015, 116 individual people registered to use the cannery for personal canning/preserving. Many came more than once and brought family and friends. Patrons included several generations sharing experience and knowledge, and the large majority of these folks were Prince Edward County residents.

Approximately 8,437 cans of produce were processed last harvest season. Other assistance to county residents included making the cannery available for church and service organization fundraisers, 4-H lessons and school field trips and hosting Virginia Cooperative Extension workshops.

Two part-time jobs for county residents were also provided.

The other service of the cannery is helping Virginia farmers make food products from their excess produce.

Since this service began, there have been 47 different farms and food producers utilizing the cannery, making over 48,000 jars of recipes that feature locally grown produce. Separately, the Virginia Edamame Growers and the Virginia Aqua-farmers Network both use the facility for their businesses.

Besides the direct benefit to the farmers, this side of the cannery consistently provides one full-time, year-round job and four part time jobs during the harvest season.

As you can see, the positive impact of the cannery includes enjoyable and beneficial community service, jobs and local business for farmers.

Without our community leaders’ willingness to stand up and promote the needs of the county’s citizens, our cannery could fall victim to budget cuts and fade away as so many other canneries have in the past.

Emily Wells was raised in Prince Edward County and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2011. Her email address is emily.wells@kinex.net.