Rural Madison

A 501(c)(3) non-profit citizen’s organization dedicated to thoughtful planning and policies for sustainable growth, stewardship of our natural, cultural and historical resources and the protection of the rural character of our region.

Category: Press Release

Wendell Berry at the Center for a Livable Future

Media Advisory

Wendell Berry to Speak at CLF 20th Anniversary Celebration

Wendell Berry at the Center For A Livable Future

click to enlarge

The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) is kicking off its 20th Anniversary Celebration next week with events featuring award-winning author and farmer Wendell Berry and investigative journalist and author Eric Schlosser. Members of the media are invited to attend the events below or watch the live stream at:

The World Ending Fire: A Conversation with Wendell Berry 

Eric Schlosser, author and investigative journalist, and Wendell Berry, award-winning novelist, poet, and farmer, will discuss Mr. Berry’s writings and ideas about a wide range of topics, including agriculture, agrarian life, the pleasures of good food, and our food system.

When: Wednesday, December 7, 2016, at Noon-1 PM (EST)

Where: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
615 N. Wolfe Street, W1214 (Sheldon Hall)
Baltimore, MD

Notes: This event is not open to the public and space is limited. Please direct media RSVPs to The event live stream can be viewed here.


The Thought of Limits in a Prodigal Age

Wendell Berry will premier a new essay, “The Thought of Limits in a Prodigal Age,” during the 17th Annual Dodge Lecture. The Dodge Lecture was established in 1999 to honor Dr. Edward Dodge and his late wife Nancy for their generous support of the Center for a Livable Future.

When: Thursday, December 8, 2016, at 12:30-1:30 PM (EST)

Where: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
615 N. Wolfe Street, E2014 (Sommer Hall)
Baltimore, MD

Notes: This event is open to the public, but space is limited. Please direct media RSVPs to The event live stream can be viewed here.


About CLF: 

Since 1996 the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future has been addressing some of the most pressing issues in the food system while advancing public health and protecting the environment. As an interdisciplinary academic center based within the Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Center is a leader in public health research, education, policy, and advocacy that is dedicated to building a healthier, more equitable, and resilient food system.

To join our mailing list for future events and news releases, please visit:

For more information or to RSVP, please contact: Darcy Milburn, Communications Coordinator at (978) 998-9319 or

Rural Madison’s 10th Annual Candidates Night Forum


“A strong democracy needs an electorate that’s informed and engaged to make wise, thought-out decisions, whether when voting for a city council seat or a seat in Congress.

One of the easiest ways for candidates for office to reach out to voters, to speak with them and to them about the issues they consider important is through unstaged, unscripted debates and public forums.

Think of it as a job interview that culminates each Election Day, regardless whether the job applicant is a newcomer to the process, a freshman undergoing his first “performance review” or a veteran connecting with longtime constituents.” -News & Advance Editorial Board

Rural Madison, Inc. Presents Candidates Night Forum 2016

Wednesday, Oct. 5, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

898 Woodberry Forest Rd.
Woodberry Forest, VA 22989


Stephen Farnsworth Professor of Political Science and International AffairsThe evening’s moderator, Dr. Stephen Farnsworth, PhD., is professor of political science and international affairs and director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington. He is a former Canada-U.S. Fulbright Research Chair in Public Policy at McGill University in Montreal and a former chair of the political communication section of the American Political Science Association. The author of five books, Farnsworth received a Ph.D. and an M.A. in government from Georgetown University, a B.A. in history from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and a B.A. in government from Dartmouth College. Before becoming a professor, he worked for 10 years as a journalist.

Rural Madison is very grateful for the generous assistance of our host and partner Woodberry Forest School for arranging Dr. Farnsworth’s participation, as well as providing the venue for this year’s forum.

The event is free and open to the public,  and will be simulcast by WFSPN for those who cannot attend in person. For more information or to submit questions for the candidates, please email

Rural Madison announces partnership in food enterprise center

Rural Madison announces partnership in food enterprise center
Joins with other organizations to make George Washington Carver center a reality

Staff Writer

GWCFEC.orgEarlier this month, Rural Madison announced that it would partner with several other like-minded organizations in the George Washington Carver Food Enterprise Center (GWCFEC).

Billed as the ultimate recycling project, the GWCFEC plans to rehabilitate and restore the facilities at the historic former all-black George Washington Carver Regional High School on Route 15 in Culpeper County. The building has been virtually unused since the early 1960’s when Virginia’s public schools were desegregated.

A consortium of groups is involved including the Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission, Cooperative Extension, Rural Madison and the George Washington Carver Regional High School Alumni Association, all of which are trying to return the property to a productive use that respects the facility’s history.

The plan is for the facility to host a broad range of agricultural activities including a food processing center where small farmers can prepare products for market, produce storage, large plot agricultural research, and culinary training. The group’s mission is to provide infrastructure for year-round production of healthy and affordable food.

Back in 2014, the Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission partnered with the Virginia Food Enterprise Center and Cooperative Extension to complete a study to determine the viability of turning the former George Washington Carver Regional High School facilities into a multi-use agricultural center.

Last May and June, consultants for the project held regional focus group sessions with farmers, growers, producers, gardeners and other food entrepreneurs within the region to determine the need and interest level for the GWCFEC.

The results of this research show both a need and a desire for a food enterprise center within this area. The study found that there was interest in local food products and a need for a facility to process local products.

Janet Bearden, GWCFEC Team Leader, has been a driving force behind the project and has brought her 30 years of management experience to the group. As a volunteer for MESA, she saw a need for affordable, locally grown food. As early as 2009, she began efforts to make locally grown food available year-round.

“My passion has been making wholesome locally grown food available year-round, giving farmers additional markets and providing jobs to those who need them,” Bearden said. ‘The funding we’ve previously helped us carry out the feasibility study, everything else has been done by volunteers. Now we’re developing funding proposals for the project to move on to the next phase.”

Plans include a certified commercial kitchen so that local farmers and growers can process small batches of value-added products—sauces, jams or jellies—for sale to the public, storage facilities for small producers, agricultural research plots, and an educational center. Ren LeVally, vice president of Rural Madison, sees a need for an agricultural support center and is passionate about the project.

“I’m very hopeful about this,” he said. “Our visions (Rural Madison and GWCFEC) are so closely aligned they are almost the same. We have a need to support our community and a project like this helps assure the long-term viability of Madison’s economy. Madison is an agricultural community; our young people see limited opportunities and leave. This can be a great way to help farmers and the community as a whole.”

Jill Grace Jefferson, the volunteer project coordinator, believes that the pieces are coming together for the project and that it is possible parts of the center will be operational within the calendar year.

“We have plans in place, as soon as there is funding, we will be able to start on each aspect of the project,” she said. “As we secure the funding it’s like putting another piece of the puzzle in place. This is a great project on many levels. It allows us to re-use an empty facility providing support and training to rural communities. While we can’t erase the past, we can use this facility in such a way as to honor [its] history while providing support to the community.”

It is hoped that the facility will be by offering certified kitchen rentals and for-profit food service training classes.

LeVally believes that the GWCFEC has the potential to help the region on several levels.

“This facility can help our community in workforce development and in support of agribusiness but it also serves individuals by making healthy and affordable foods more readily available,” he said. “My personal interest is in human health and nutrition. Increasing the availability of healthy, affordable food is good for the whole community. Madison is not immune to America’s health problems. We have obesity, hypertension, and diabetes here. By empowering people to take care of themselves, you give them the tools to succeed.”

For more information on the GWCFEC, visit

Stone Soup Project

Rural Madison, Inc. is pleased to be a sponsor of the upcoming Stone Soup Project, which is designed to help low income individuals to improve their quality of life by participating in food service workforce training.  The curriculum will focus on hands-on skills in food preparation, sanitation, nutrition, shopping skills and customer service.  The importance of food safety and personal hygiene will be developed into each lesson and participants will receive a Certificate of Completion for the National Restaurant Association ServSafe Food Handler program after completion of the program.

The course will run in Culpeper on September 22, 29, October 6, 13, 20, 27  and in Madison on November 9, 16, 23, 30, December 7.

Stone Soup Project

Cornucopia Volunteer Farm Adopt a Plot Program


11251 Cherry Hill Road, Culpeper, VA 22701
(540) 827-9965

For Immediate Release


Chuck Jackson, Executive Director (540) 827-9965

A local nonprofit is putting the call out to groups looking for an opportunity to work together and provide for those less fortunate.

Chuck Jackson, Executive Director of Cornucopia Volunteer Farm, announced recently a new Adopt a Plot Program for the 2015 growing season.  He is looking for dedicated organizations, businesses or families to participate in the planting, maintaining, and harvesting of the new food plots.

All food grown will go to one of 14 food pantries, soup kitchen or five senior centers in the counties of Culpeper, Fauquier, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock. Their clients – even those with government benefits – often have little disposable income for fresh fruits and vegetables, which are essential in overcoming many diseases including heart disease, obesity and childhood and adult diabetes.

Group members will be responsible for sowing seeds, planting transplants and weekly maintenance throughout the growing season in a food plot the size of a backyard garden. During the growing season you will harvest and deliver crops to a facility that will pass that bounty on to our food-insecure neighbors.

Jackson said that, thanks to local business sponsors, the farm will have thousands of seeds ready to plant for 2015.  Local high school FFA chapters will also be providing transplants as they become available throughout the year.  Or, if the group or organization would like to plant their own seeds or plants, donations are more than welcome, he said.

Help is also needed with the farms’ existing projects and monetary donations are always badly needed, Jackson said. Cornucopia Volunteer Farm is a 501(c)3 non-profit and all donations are tax deductible. The farm has no paid employees.

Organizations or groups interested in the Adopt a Plot Program can contact Jackson at or by calling (540) 827-9965.

According to a Blue Ridge Area Food Bank study, over 20,000 men, women and children in the area struggle with hunger and one of every six children is food insecure. During the summer, when they no longer have access to school food programs, they are at further risk. And more seniors – than any other group – are relying on charitable food assistance.

© 2019 Rural Madison

Website Malware Scan