Trump cabinet secretary visits Sweet Briar College to review agriculture initiatives

U.S. secretary of agriculture, Sonny Perdue, stands next to Senator Mark Warner (D - Virginia)...
U.S. secretary of agriculture, Sonny Perdue, stands next to Senator Mark Warner (D - Virginia) and Sweet Briar College president Meredith Woo during a tour of the Sweet Briar campus Friday.(WDBJ)
Published: Sep. 20, 2019 at 5:04 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Standing on a hillside not far from the academic buildings at Sweet Briar College sits a new, 20-acre vineyard.

President Trump's secretary of agriculture Sonny Purdue, got an up-close look at the project Friday.

"It's refreshing to see a private college like Sweet Briar developing a vision for agriculture," Perdue told reporters at the conclusion of a campus tour.

Perdue and Virginia Senator Mark Warner were invited to Sweet Briar to learn about the Amherst County college's renewed focus on farming.

In addition to building a vineyard, the school has launched a number of other agriculture enterprises. Perdue and Warner took part in a ceremonial ribbon cutting for Sweet Briar's new greenhouse, which will eventually produce fresh fruits and vegetables for both the school and the community.

"Having our feet in education, but also in viticulture and agritourism, really makes a whole lot of sense," Nathan Kluger, director of agriculture enterprises at Sweet Briar.

Kluger said the school is well positioned to make money from its farming initiatives. The campus is located near one of Virginia's largest clusters of wineries.

"None of these enterprises are conceived without the cost of capital and a return on investment," said Kluger.

As Sweet Briar's president, Meredith Woo, emphasized during a roundtable discussion with Perdue and Warner Friday, the new agriculture initiatives are a return to the school's roots as a farm.

"Sweet Briar has an incredible agrarian legacy, and I'm always reminded that the past is, indeed, a prologue," said Woo.