Virginia Tech Dining Services and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has named Shawn Jadrnicek manager for Homefield Farm.

The position oversees the student-run, six-acre organic operation eight miles west of the Blacksburg campus that is jointly funded by Dining Services and the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“Shawn’s background of both teaching and applied knowledge made him a great fit,” said Ben Marks, associate director of Dining Services. “Homefield Farm is the cornerstone of our Sustainable Dining program, and we’re looking forward to working with him to expand access to high-quality, organic produce for our students.”

Prior to joining the university, Jadrnicek ran Wild Hope Farm, in Chester, South Carolina, an organic farm focused on community-supported agriculture and regenerative land management. He has also served as a horticulture agent for the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service and manager of the university’s student organic farm.

As part of his position, Jadrnicek will also be teaching two courses in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Sustainable Agriculture Practicum (HORT 2834) and Farm Stand Field Study (HORT 2964). Both courses are open to students of any major.

“Giving students an opportunity to connect with where and how their food is grown is really powerful,” said Jadrnicek. “The hope is the experience will inform the rest of their lives, regardless of whether or not they pursue a career in agriculture.”

Shawn Jadrnicek is pictured driving a tractor with a field and silo behind him
Jadrnicek at Homefield Farm, an organic operation eight miles from the Blacksburg campus.

Homefield Farm is the only certified organic operation owned by a university in Virginia. The farm provides about 50,000 pounds of fresh produce each year to dining centers and a weekly farm stand outside Lavery Hall. About 30 varieties of vegetables, plus culinary herbs, and flowers, are grown at Homefield and the farm’s high tunnel at Virginia Tech’s Urban Horticulture Center.

The produce is served by Dining Services’ executive chefs throughout the year and regularly appears on the menu at Farms in the Owens Food Court in Owens Hall, a venue focused on local and campus-sourced ingredients.

“I’m very excited to work with the chefs on campus, it’s not something I’ve been able to do in the past,” said Jadrnicek. “Here at Virginia Tech, where the dining program is operated on-site by the university, there’s a lot of opportunity to provide local food directly to our kitchen staff and be part of the campus experience for our students.”

In the future, Jadrnicek plans to explore starting a summer community-supported agriculture program for faculty and staff and implementing more organic, no-till farming methods at Homefield Farm. The agriculture technique, advocated by Virginia Tech researcher Ron Morris, uses cover crops to create a mulch that conserves water, limits soil erosion, increases the soil organic matter, and uses less fuel.

Jadrnicek earned an M.S. in plant and environmental science from Clemson University in 2016 and a B.S. in biology, with a focus on plant science, from James Madison University in 1998. He is also the author, along with his wife Stephanie, of "The Bio-Integrated Farm," which was released by Chelsea Green Publishing in 2016.

More information about Homefield Farm can be found at dining.vt.edu/sustainability or on Instagram and Facebook at @vthomefieldfarm.

— Written by Will Rizzo