From Saturday On the Farm to Working the Vineyard

Exploring VA Wines

By Doug Fabbioli

From Saturday On the Farm to Working the Vineyard

If you have been following me for a while, you realize that I try to do a little more than making and selling a bottle of wine. I was lucky enough to recognize at an early age that the wine industry is pretty cool and that I had some passion and energy to apply to that field. I have been working, learning and teaching in this field for almost 40 years and have influenced a great number of folks along the way. The great thing about the wine industry, is that if you are willing to work hard, there will be work for you. I will certainly expand that thought to other industries as well.

 Many of my efforts over the past few years has been to find those passionate, energetic folks and teaching them about the career opportunities we have in our industry as well as giving some of them a summer job that will get them outside and put some cash in their pockets. Our efforts really start with farming. Many of us have grown up with a garden in the backyard and the early chores were tending to that garden. This spring, The New Ag’s School educational program, Victory Gardens, has had a couple of programs set up to share, educate, employ and feed our participants. The Victory Garden program consists of a kit of pots, soil and plant starters that folks can grow on the porch of their apartment and have some guidance through video and social media as the plants grow. We have continued with our “Saturday on the Farm” program even through the lockdown. Different farmers teach a program each Saturday to a variety of attendees in order to share some tips, meet some folks that might be interested further and to share the awareness of their career with young folks that might find an interest. We also had a program that got shut down when the schools closed from the COVID-19 outbreak in March. Our “Think Outside” program was set up to be launched in March in the Loudoun County High Schools, giving our kids hands on learning as well as educational modules for them to work on at home.

 Well, the stay at home order may have slowed us down, but we have continued to move forward. Meet Wilfredo, a recent graduate of Park View High School in Sterling, a current employee at Fabbioli Cellars and a participant in The New Ag School Think Outside program. He has been attending our classes, doing his online modules and gaining valuable experience from working with the farm team at Fabbioli. Wilfredo is scheduled to attend boot camp with the US Marines in December, but for now he is honing his teamwork and horticulture skills on the farm. This opportunity gets him a paycheck as well as provides experience that will be with him the rest of his days. The combination of our agriculture education is the perfect bridge between the young folks looking for a chance and our local businesses needing some solid workers. This connection creates a winning relationship that actually helps society too.

If you are interested in getting involved, we have 3 ways. If you are a leader in a rural based business and would like to be a mentor, we have training and mentoring opportunities. If you are looking to grow your skills and are willing to work and learn, we also have a spot for you. If you would like to support us with a financial contribution, we would surely be grateful. Your funds would be used to keep our program moving forward, help with the working logistics for some of our mentees and continue the mentoring and education  in order to keep providing Loudoun with qualified workforce and on the other hand exposing more and more people, especially our youth to the meaningful work of simple gardening, farming, raising animals, or other agri-business activities through innovative hands-on program dedicated to raising up leaders who can support agribusiness.

If you find yourself wanting more information on this, check our website at newagschool.org and like us on the Facebook.

Help us keep Loudoun green, healthy and sustainable.

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