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WVU-P, Mister Bee form partnership

From left, Chris Gilmer, WVU Parkersburg President; Mary Anne Ketelsen, owner of the West Virginia Potato Chip Co.; Ed Morrison, Mister Bee Plant Manager; and Senta Goudy, WVU Parkersburg Dean of the Center for Civic Engagement and Innovation. The college and Mister Bee are in a partnership for the production of West Virginia spuds for the famed chip maker. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — West Virginia University at Parkersburg has formed a partnership with the Mister Bee Potato Chip Co. to collaborate with local farmers and begin producing West Virginia-grown potatoes for the company.

Mary Anne Ketelsen, owner and president of Mister Bee Potato Chips, has provided WVU Parkersburg with a grant to assist the college in growing 10 acres of specialty chipping potatoes for Mister Bee. The project will begin this fall on the Riverhawk Farm near the college’s Parkersburg campus.

“Love for a certain locally-produced potato chip, and a passion for WVUP, led me to explore ways for us to ‘grow’ together,” said Senta Goudy, WVU Parkersburg executive director of Civic Engagement and Innovation. “I am so excited to be helping WVUP, Mister Bee and the local economy by helping to build a sustainable agriculture program on the WVUP Riverhawk Farm. The first year’s pilot growing season is in full swing, and this fall, Mister Bee will produce its first potato chips from West Virginia-grown, WVUP potatoes.”

With a resource and training center focus, WVU Parkersburg is developing the Riverhawk Farm to expand sustainable agriculture practices. The college will also be training a workforce for production and supporting the region’s agricultural small businesses. Current business leaders in the agriculture field will be providing expertise and support for the WVU Parkersburg Potato Cooperative and the Riverhawk Farm Learning Center.

“Thanks to the generosity of Mary Anne Ketelsen and her team at Mister Bee, we are engaging in one of the most exciting and entrepreneurial ventures that WVU Parkersburg has undertaken in a long time,” said WVU Parkersburg President Chris Gilmer. “We are bringing the university’s farm back into service to provide locally-grown potatoes so that Mister Bee can now promote that some of its potatoes are West Virginia grown. We hope to expand our growing potential in future years and to bring together a coalition of local farmers who are interested in helping to meet even more of Mister Bee’s needs.”

WVU Parkersburg will offer ways for individuals in the community to get involved. SW Resources and the college are collaborating to bring opportunities for individuals in recovery from substance abuse. WVU Parkersburg will also be working with the WV Department of Agriculture to give student veterans the chance to receive agricultural training with the WV Vets to Agriculture program.

“This will be of direct benefit to our students who will be able to engage in a number of new experiential learning roles related to agribusiness,” Gilmer said.

WVU Parkersburg and Mister Bee continue to look for area farms that would like to help the local economy and save shipping costs for Mister Bee during certain times of the year.

“WVUP is planning a variety of training and educational opportunities at the Riverhawk Farm to encourage and promote farming innovations that improve the environment, increase profitability and improve the quality of life for individuals in our community,” Goudy said.

For more information about how to get involved with the Riverhawk Farm, email Goudy at sgoudy4@wvup.edu.

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