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VSU’s 43,560 Initiative demonstrates farming with 1 acre

PETERSBURG—The 43,560 Initiative, a project at Virginia State University, seeks to illustrate ways to farm a small amount of land for a big payoff.

“There’s 43,560 square feet in an acre. Our objective is to gross that much from one acre. There have been books written about it, and we’re attempting a demonstration to see if you can do it. We’re trying to make a dollar per square foot, and you would net about half of that,” said William Crutchfield, field coordinator for VSU’s Small Farm Outreach Program.

Students have planted a variety of produce on the 1-acre plot. “A little over half the plot is leafy vegetables, but we’re also growing sweet corn, fruit, melons and tomatoes,” Crutchfield said. “As one crop deteriorates, we’re plowing it under and planting something else. We’re not sure if we’re going to meet $43,560 this year, but we hope to come close.”

Additionally, he hopes the project will illustrate the importance of using modern agricultural practices to maximize crop yields and profits. “We’re using modern agricultural practices on half, and then on the other half, we’re demonstrating how many farmers plant without drip irrigation, pesticides and fertilizer. You can actually see the differences in the plants.”

Food produced on the plot will be donated to food banks and gleaning organizations.
Visitors to VSU’s Randolph Farm will be able to learn more about the 43,560 Initiative at an open farm day on June 27.

Contact Crutchfield at 804-524-5662.
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