Farmers interested in leasing prime farmland on West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) property at the Lakin State Farm in Mason County have until March 14 to apply, according to Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick.

Forty acres of prime farmland is available for lease this year to individuals, partnerships, organizations and co-ops for commercial vegetable and small fruit production. There is no cost to apply, but applications must include a business plan, a key ingredient to financial success in farming, noted Commissioner Helmick.

“As Agriculture Commissioner I hope to see many get involved because the demand for food products will only continue to grow,” Commissioner Helmick said. “We have a real opportunity in West Virginia right now. Currently we consume over $7 billion annually in food yet we only produce approximately $675 million. We have a $6 billion opportunity staring us right in the face so we have to be innovative and be willing to be more progressive. This pilot project in Mason County is just one step in the process.”

Commissioner Helmick also said that a part of the Lakin Farm would also be dedicated for demonstration/educational purposes. The WVDA will offer some technical support for those chosen for the Lakin Farm Project and WVU Extension Services will also provide some consultation services.

For more information or to obtain an application, contact WVDA employees Dwayne O’Dell, Bob Tabb or Jarrod Dean at 304-558-2210.