The new horticulture agent in the Wilkes Cooperative Extension Service brings strong experience in agriculture - both as a producer and helping others produce.
Elina (“Eli,” pronounced L-E) Snyder will devote much of her attention to home and commercial fruit and vegetable production, which in Wilkes includes apple orchards, rapidly-expanding vineyards and a wide range of garden crops.
Snyder was an organic vegetable farmer in Maryland for six years, where she was raised.
During most of that time, she helped run a certified organic produce and poultry farm servicing a community-supported agriculture (CSA) operation selling to over 300 members in the Washington, D.C., area.
As horticulture agent with the Caldwell County Cooperative Extension Service for over three years, Snyder assisted fruit and vegetable growers, homeowners, landscapers and pesticide applicators and worked in other areas.
She also managed a Master Gardener program in Caldwell with over 20 members. Snyder plans to start the first new Master Gardener classes in Wilkes in several years and also will work with the community garden program at Wilkesboro’s Cub Creek Park.
Snyder said she expects to work with people pursuing industrial hemp production due to interest in that crop. Her work with other alternative and specialty crops in Wilkes will be guided by local interests. “I’m keeping track of requests for information from people” to guide this, she explained.
Snyder’s responsibilities also include nursery and ornamental crops, landscaping and greenhouse operations. She’ll provide opportunities for pesticide certification or recertification.
She noted that extension specialists in various areas of agriculture are available for her to contact as needed for information and to come to Wilkes and work directly with producers.
Snyder said a noteworthy opportunity coming up is the N.C. Farm School, consisting of eight business-planning seminars taught every other week for 3 1/2 months by extension specialists, agents and experienced farmers. It also includes five field trips to working farms.
The N.C. Farm School’s goal is equipping participants with the tools they need to create viable farm business plans. This includes providing participants with successful farmer mentors.
An N.C. Farm School for Wilkes, Yadkin, Alexander, Caldwell and Catawba counties starts in mid-January, with classroom sessions in Taylorsville. More details are at https://ncfarmschool.ces.ncsu.edu/2018/08/what-is-nc-farm-school.
Snyder has a bachelor of arts degree in economics, Latin American studies and environmental studies from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and a master of science degree in agronomy from Pennsylvania State University. The focus of her graduate degree work was weed science/weed management in reduced-herbicide production systems.
She worked for Penn State Extension as an agricultural educator and researcher after graduating from Penn State. She also taught agroecology, society and technology and worked with the Upward Bound program as an adjunct professor at Appalachian State University.
Snyder worked for a year as a program assistant and interim coordinator for Boone-based Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture. She is fluent in Spanish and was a volunteer translator at the Ashe County Partnership for Children.
She and her husband, Dr. Andrew Windham, moved to northwestern North Carolina when he was hired as a professor in ASU’s Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment in 2014.
One of Snyder's first initiatives in Wilkes is serving as site manager for a Pesticide Collection Day for unwanted herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. This event, organized in cooperation with the N.C. Department of Agriculture Pesticide Disposal Assistance Program, is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Wilkes Agricultural Center at 416 Executive Drive, Wilkesboro. This is a non-regulatory and cost-free program for residents of Wilkes and surrounding counties. Nearly all pesticide products will be accepted, including banned and outdated pesticides. Participants are asked to save any portion of the label to help identify the material. Unknown materials can’t be accepted. For more information contact Snyder at 336-651-7333.