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Basketball Legend Seeks USDA's Help to Transform Family Farm Into a Sustainable Agricultural Enterprise

Basketball Legend Ralph Sampson Revitalizes Family Farm with USDA's Help

Basketball icon Ralph Sampson is embarking on a new journey—farming. Sampson aims to restore his family's nearly 200-acre farm in McGaheysville, VA, originally acquired by his grandfather, George Blakey, in the 1940s. The farm, which once thrived with corn, vegetables, chickens, horses, and cows, has seen a decline over the years. Now, with the help of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS), Sampson is set to revive it.

Sarah Blakey Sampson Ralph's mother reminisces about life growing up on the family farm, where growing corn, cultivating vegetables, and raising chickens, horses, and cows enabled the family of 14 to thrive off the land. "We sold our milk to Shenandoah's Pride [Dairy]," said Blakey Sampson. "I often wondered how my parents survived with 12 kids, but we did everything."

To ensure the farm would remain in the family and receive the necessary attention to restore it, Sampson and other Blakey descendants formed an LLC. With agritourism in mind, their vision is to build a working farm where tourists can learn about agriculture, agricultural enterprise, and more.

He also aims to support minority farmers by providing training and resources. His plans include renovating an old barn into a museum and offering farm tours and wine tastings.

USDA is assisting Sampson with technical and financial support to implement conservation practices on the farm. This collaboration ensures the farm's legacy continues and fosters economic growth in the region.

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