As a horticulture extension agent, Melanie Barrow works primarily with homeowner landscaping needs in Henry County, the City of Martinsville and surrounding areas, delivering research-based educational programs on various topics, including pest identification and diagnostics, ornamental cultural information, fruit and vegetable growing recommendations, home garden and landscape techniques, and lawn maintenance.  Her primary goal is to teach the public about Integrated Pest Management techniques to reduce the overuse of pesticides and fertilizer applications and to promote a more environmentally friendly gardening experience.  Melanie also works closely with the area commercial landscapers and turf managers, providing up-to-date recommendations and pesticide applicator licensing training.

She also develops and delivers horticulture program presentations to area civic organizations, garden clubs, community clubs, and youth organizations; as well as provides one-on-one learning experiences.  Program development is topic-focused and determined by public need.

If you are need of testing the nutrients in your soil, we have the boxes and forms you will need to mail off soil samples for your lawn, garden or crop. These can be obtained from our office at no charge to you; however, you must handle the mailing yourself. Commercial crop diagnosis is free and a routine test for garden/lawn is $10 per sample. You will mail the check (if needed) to Treasurer, Virginia Tech, along with your soil samples. Stop by the Extension Office and get your boxes for testing your soil.

If you need a PRIVATE PESTICIDE APPLICATOR LISCENSE to purchase restricted-use chemicals, you may call the Henry County/Martinsville Extension Office and set up a time to come take the required test.  

Application information and study manual order forms for COMMERCIAL PESTICIDE APPLICATOR LISCENSE can also be obtained through the Henry County/Martinsville Extension Office.  Commercial Applicator testing is provided by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and can be taken at the local DMV.

We are fortunate to have trained, qualified Master Gardener volunteers to help you with your horticultural questions. Call the Henry County/Martinsville Extension Office on Mondays and Thursdays from 9:00am - 12:00pm or 1:00pm - 4:00pm and request a Master Gardener call you to discuss your garden and lawn concerns. We will put you in touch with a Master Gardener who can answer your questions in a timely manner.


Forestry and Natural Resources

Family and Consumer Sciences programs improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities, and support economic self-sufficiency and family stability and emphasize appropriate and safe food and nutrition choices, encourage physical activity, and improve health literacy.

The family unit is the cornerstone of a healthy community. Virginia Cooperative Extension strives to improve the well-being of Virginia families through programs that help put research-based knowledge to work in people's lives. Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) educators help Virginians learn to make good choices for themselves and their families. This, in turn, strengthens their communities and the commonwealth.  

A Vision for a Stronger Commonwealth

Our Extension agents teach Virginians how to improve their quality of life by giving them the skills to:

  • Prevent chronic disease with a healthy diet and physical activity
  • Identify quality childcare
  • Plan for home ownership
  • Make good parenting decisions
  • Handle food safely
  • Be a wise grocery shopper
  • Handle credit wisely
  • Plan for elder care needs
  • Manage finances successfully
  • Prepare for and cope with disasters
  • Manage home-based businesses

FCS programs reach tens of thousands of families across the commonwealth each year. We work with other state and local agencies for many of our programs, and through these partnerships we maximize the impact and quality of our resources.  Our staff and trained volunteers help build and strengthen these collaborations and extend our resources to more Virginians.

Developing Life Skills

We help Virginians develop wellness life skills in our three pillar program areas:

  • Food, nutrition, and health
  • Family financial management
  • Family and human development

Whether preventing chronic disease with a healthy diet, purchasing a family home, or identifying quality childcare, Virginians benefit from the comprehensive education in these three FCS areas

Engaging with Communities

Virginia Cooperative Extension specialists in community viability work with Extension agents, campus-based faculty, organizational partners, communities, and individuals to further opportunity and build capacity in five program areas:   

Examples of our work include training county elected officials, educating entrepreneurs, facilitating collaborative projects, supporting the growth of community food systems and local economies, enhancing agent skills and community capacity in facilitation and leadership, conducting problem-driven research, and creating publications and tools that address critical community needs.

Do you have a question about Community Viability?

Perhaps one of the Community Viability specialists below can help you. Contact a Community Viability specialist or direct a question to them using our Ask an Expert system.

Community Viability Specialists

See a list of our Community Viability Specialists