2022 Women in Agriculture Recipients to Be Honored at State Fair of West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2022 West Virginia Women in Agriculture Awards. The West Virginia Women in Agriculture (WIA) program celebrates those female farmers, past and present, and lauds their achievements. The 2022 recipients will be honored during a reception at the State Fair of West Virginia on Sunday, August 14 at 2:00 p.m.

“Today, women make up more than a third of the farmers and producers in West Virginia, but women have been farming in the Mountain State for centuries. As we try to replace the aging farmer, we will need more women to step up to lead operations,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “The women we are honoring this year have paved the way for female producers. Each have played a vital role in West Virginia agriculture.”

The 2022 WIA recipients are:

Violet Maston – Jackson County
Violet grew up on a dairy farm in Upshur County. She joined 4-H and FFA and started raising sheep for her FFA project. That flock helped put her through college. Today, Violet raises and sells cut flowers at Sweet Violet Farm in Leroy, WV. She has over 50 different varieties that she markets through direct sales, bouquet subscriptions, farmers markets and to local florists. Violet has honored her parents by making improvements to the family farm and by passing on the love of agriculture to her two children. Her son owns his own farm, and her daughter is pursuing an agri-business degree. Violet says, “Do what you love. You have to love it to be successful!”

Genevieve May – Grant County
Genevieve has been a farm girl all her life. From an early age, she was driving the work horses through the fields to gather the hay shocks and walking behind the plow to cover the seeds. Genevieve and her husband own May Farm and manage 50 stock cows (Hereford and Angus), laying chickens and hair sheep. From the farm to the kitchen, she taught her children and grandchildren the importance of farming, canning and preserving food. She encouraged them to join 4-H and FFA and helped with numerous projects from leaf collections to market lambs. She has been a mentor to many, helping and educating about the importance of agriculture and life skills like sewing on a button. “Do what you love, and love what you do,” stresses Genevieve.

Brandy Brabham – Roane County
Brandy is the WVU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent in Roane County. She conducts training on risk management, leadership and advocacy, as well as Extension methods for crops, agribusiness development and marketing. She serves as a member of the WV Women in Agriculture team and has served on many state conference planning committees including the Small Farm Conference, Farm Opportunities Day and the inaugural WV Women in Agriculture Conference. She and her family raise beef cattle, hay and honeybees. They also have a high tunnel and a small backyard flock of chickens from which they market eggs. Brandy emphasizes, “Follow your passion in all your agricultural pursuits, and you will realize success!”

Jodi Richmond – Summers County
Jodi has served Mercer County for 19 years as a WVU Extension Agent with a primary focus of increasing the profitability and sustainability of small farming operations by providing educational programing in production, agricultural business management and food safety. Jodi has a passion for teaching youth about ag literacy, school gardens and kids’ farmers markets. She has a B.S. in Animal Science and a M.S. in Education, both from Virginia Tech. However, she admits neither degree prepared her for the finer points of her job, including chasing runaway goats at the fair, identifying snakes left on her desk or explaining to clients that it is not safe to can in the dishwasher. Jodi tells adults and children alike, “Don’t be afraid to try or to fail. You will learn far more from things that don’t work than you will from things that work well the first time.”

For more information or questions, contact Crescent Gallagher at 304-380-3922 or cgallagher@wvda.us.

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture protects plant, animal and human health through a variety of scientific, regulatory and consumer protection programs. The Commissioner of Agriculture is one of six statewide elected officials who sits on the Board of Public Works.