Five women, including one from Putnam County, were chosen as 2019 West Virginia Women in Agriculture for their lifetime of work in the industry.
The inductees were honored by Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt during a reception at the State Fair of West Virginia Sunday.
From raising cattle and poultry to running a greenhouse and mentoring students in 4-H and FFA, these women are outstanding in their fields.
“Women now make up 38 percent of our state’s farmers,” Leonhardt said in a news release. “As more women consider agricultural careers, a lot of thanks is due to those who paved the way. These five women have had a tremendous impact on our state’s agricultural sector, as well as helped inspire the next generation of farmers.”
The West Virginia Department of Agriculture began honoring Women in Agriculture in 2010. Since then, 51 women, including this year’s honorees, have been recognized for their significant contributions to the agriculture industry.
This year’s nominees
Penny Gritt Goff, Putnam County
Gritt’s Midway Greenhouse was established in 1944 by founder Tony Gritt Jr., who peddled his fresh produce in Charleston. Three generations of Gritts have since contributed to expanding the enterprise, including Penny Gritt Goff. She learned from both her grandfather and father about the greenhouse business and further enhanced her training by studying ornamental horticulture at Ohio State University.
Goff is now the owner and general manager of Gritt’s Midway Greenhouse. She helped spearhead the production of hydroponic tomatoes, lettuce and herbs under 1.5 acres of greenhouses. She and her husband, Matt Goff, currently manage six acres of production greenhouses, with 2 acres of outdoor growing space. They employ approximately 40 people.
As GMG general manager, Goff oversees and coordinates all activities, including scheduling and buying. She sells her produce within a 150-mile radius to Kroger stores, independent grocery stores, produce vendors and through the company’s own retail outlet. She also works with a local distributor that sells to restaurants and hospitals. During the last five years, GMG has sold over $340,000 worth of produce through the Child Nutrition Office of the Putnam County School System.
Goff is a member of the West Virginia Greenhouse and Landscape Association, LLC, and is a new member of the RCBI Agriculture Innovation Leadership Council. Each spring and fall, Goff provides starter plants for school gardens and donates seeds for the students to plant.
Betty Bosley, Hardy County
In 1980, Bosley and husband started their own farm. It grew into a poultry production business, with two large poultry houses. They have won “WV Pullet Producers of the Year.” Now owning over 50-plus acres, they are raising purebred Registered Simmental and Simental/Angus cross cattle.
Lois Carr, Pendleton County
Carr is a third-generation farmer in Pendleton County. When her parents passed away, she and her husband, Roy Carr, were able to purchase the family farm. It consists of 180 acres and an additional 310 acres of pasture land, rented for cattle and sheep to graze.
The Carr operation consists of 80 head of Angus and crossbred cow and calf pairs, 125 head of ewes and lambs, hogs, goats and chickens. They have installed conservation practices including pasture divisions and access control fencing, prescribed grazing, pasture and hay planting, critical area planting, forage harvest management and streambank protection.
Carol Taylor, Grant County
Taylor’s Cottage Hill Farm is home to a registered Polled Hereford operation nestled in the Potomac Valley of Petersburg. The farm runs approximately 200 head of Hereford cows on 1,000 acres. The farm is family owned and operated by Taylor and her family.
JoAnn Watterson (deceased), Mason County
JoAnn Watterson was a pioneer for women in agriculture and helped pave the way for other young women to become established in agriculture-related industries. She was involved in the local Holstein-Friesian Association, the Dairy Herd Improvement Association and the Mason County Fair.
In 1960, her father died, leaving her and her mother the nearly 2,000 acre Kanawha River Valley farm. Watterson was 18 at the time and, by the next year, she started managing the operation.
In 1973, she and husband Bob went from mixed-grade operation to a completely registered Holstein-Friesian operation.
Classification of their cattle always resulted in being listed in the top three in the state. Even while managing the farm she maintained a home, was president of the Farm Women’s Homemaker Club and mentored young people.