Encouraging and Supporting the Goat Industry in the Appalachian Mountains
First Blog Post
The Midwest Buck Sale has kindly allowed us to blog a series of posts to describe The New River Valley Sheep and Goat Club, and what it does, in case this may be useful to inspire other farms and producers around the country. The Club welcomes this opportunity to support the important work of the Midwest Buck Sale to help build a quality US goat industry.
The New River Valley Sheep and Goat Club (The Club) is a network of sheep and goat farmers dedicated to promoting, advocating for, and growing the number of sheep and goats in the mountains of rural Southwest Virginia, and by popular demand, has expanded to include nearby farms in North Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina. The Club was established in August of 2014 and current membership is over 160 Member Farms and over 520 individual members. The club is funded solely by its members. About half of the membership is composed of farms raising all varieties of goats – from dairy to fiber to meat goats.
Our members believe the importance and value of sheep and goats to the economic health and agricultural diversity of our communities, as well as our responsibility to educate the general public regarding issues related to farming, working with animals, and rural economic development.
The Club has three main areas in its mission:
- Support our Sheep and Goat Farmers: We feel a strong responsibility to support our members, those who are established producers of sheep and goats as well as to guide and encourage our young members and future farmers. Support includes our mentoring program, marketing our members’ sheep & goats (generally our members receive higher prices through collectively shipping large tractor trailer loads to New Holland, PA), and holding field trips, farm tours and educational meetings.
- Support our Artisan Members: It is important to support value added production as a vital component to rural economic development as well as improving public education on the value of raising these animals. Our talented member artisans create products such as fiber arts (including handspun yarns, knitted and felted items, and wearable art and clothing), as well as goat milk utilized in soaps and lotions. The Club provides funding for members’ participation in festivals and crafts fairs as well as organizing bus trips to large events.
- Preserve our Farming Community: The Club’s geographical region has moved from tobacco production, to cattle, and there is great potential for the next wave in farming to be sheep and goat production. It is vitally important to maintain our green spaces and provide viable financial opportunities to the community.
The next blog post will go into more detail on how the Club supports its farm members with shipping livestock and advertising. If you would like to learn more about the club in the meantime, please view our website: www.nrvsheepandgoatclub.com