Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Foothills Farm School

The demand for locally grown food continues to grow despite a faltering economy.  Direct sales from farms to consumers grew 215% from 1992-2007. The average farmer in NC is 57 years old and looking forward to retirement. We need new farmers to meet the demand for locally grown food in North Carolina.

More and more families are looking at ways to supplement their incomes and put their land into something productive. Quite often, I’m faced with the question, "I have some land that I want to do something with... but I don't know what.  Can you tell me what I can grow and make some money?"  This is an open-ended question, because the success of an agricultural venture really depends on the market and the operator. A successful business starts with a good plan and lots of research, and agriculture is no different.

In response to this situation, Cooperative Extension Agents from several counties have developed The Foothills Farm School, a training program for beginning and transitioning farmers. The six-month educational program focuses on operating successful small-scale, sustainable farms.

The school offers six seminars taught by agricultural professionals, which give farmers the tools to develop sustainable farming operations.  Session topics include business planning, marketing, and fruit and vegetable production, among others.

The school also includes six field trips to working farms, led by innovative, experienced farmers and agricultural professionals. Participants learn low-cost, sustainable farming methods in a range of production systems, including fruits, vegetables, livestock, and specialty crops.

Classes meet at the Catawba County Extension Center on the first Tuesday of the month beginning in January from 6 to 8:30 pm. Farm field days are typically on the fourth Thursday of the month from 9 am to 3 pm.  Farm field days will take place at various farms throughout the Foothills.

Space is limited. Registration deadline is Friday, December 6, and costs are as follows: one person, $250 and $50 for each additional person. To register go to the following link: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/FFS-brochure-2014-final-new-dates1.pdf  

Also, a limited number of Foothills Farm School scholarships are available to Gaston County participants through Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC funding for a scholarship of $200.  Gaston County residents interested in starting a farm or becoming a more successful sustainable farm, should complete the Farm School application and  contact Lara Worden at lara_worden@ncsu.edu  for a scholarship application. The deadline for the scholarship application is November 30, 2013.

For more information, contact the Gaston County Cooperative Extension Service by calling 704.922.2112.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Home Grown Gaston 2013


Want a Farm-to-Fork Dinner? Want to support local chefs, local restaurants, local farmers and a local cause?

Tickets are on sale now for the third annual Home Grown Gaston farm-to-fork event, set for September 10th at the Gastonia Farmers Market from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Home Grown Gaston is NC Cooperative Extension’s celebration of local foods and local causes. This event will showcase delicious locally-grown foods that will be prepared by local chefs and restaurants. Festival attendees will also enjoy live music and have the opportunity to meet and greet the local farmers and chefs who prepared the food.

Proceeds from the event will benefit The Shelter of Gaston County. The Shelter fills a critical need in our community by providing a safe emergency residence where victims of domestic violence can seek shelter when faced with violent and dangerous situations

How do you attend?

• Tickets are $35 per person at www.homegrowngaston.com

• Attire is business casual

• For further information or to purchase tickets, contact Cooperative Extension at 704.922.2112 or The Shelter of Gaston County at 704-810-6492

Which chefs/restaurants are participating?

• John McCall – Rodi’s

• Cole Witten – Spindle City CafĂ©

• Francisco Montes – Tequila’s

• Hans Kanal – H&M Catering

• Job White – The Farmers Fork

• Jack Acheson – The Round Bistro

• Kris Nash – Kris’s Kakes

Monday, July 8, 2013

Hands-on with Home Grown Gaston

Please join us for a series of educational opportunities from Gaston Cooperative Extension:

Who Grows Your Food?
July 31st
6-7:30 p.m.
Cost: $10
Instructor: Lara Worden

Location: Citizens Resource Ctr., Dallas

Registration Info: 704.922.2112

Registration Deadline: July 24th - register before July 24th

This session will introduce you to the bounty of locally-grown foods throughout the Foothills area. Learn more about our food system and the benefits of local food. (Registration fee includes a meal.)

Cooking with Seasonal Foods
Dates below
6-8 p.m.
Cost: $10
Instructor: Linda Minges
Location: Lucille Tatum Center, 959 Osceola St., Gastonia, NC
Registration Info: 704.865.3291
Registration Deadline: 5 businessdays prior to each session
This hands-on cooking series teaches how to prepare simple and healthy dishes featuring locally-grown foods. Choose from the following sessions:
  • July 17th - Eggplant, berries, summer squash & okra
  • August 20th - Local chicken, tomatoes, green beans, cantaloupe & peaches
  • September 17th - Apples, field peas, onions & spaghetti squash
  • October 15th - Local pork, acorn squash, carrots, kale & pears
  • November 19th - Local beef, sweet potatoes, broccoli, mustard greens & pumpkin
Apple Butter
September 11th - 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. or September 12th - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Cost: $10
Instructor: Linda Minges
Location: Lucille Tatum Center, 959 Osceola St., Gastonia, NC
Registration Info: 704.865.3291 - Register before September 4th
Learn how to safely can fruit butters in this hands-on apple butter class.

Pressure Canning 101
July 24th
10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Cost: $10
Instructor: Linda Minges
Location: Lucille Tatum Center, 959 Osceola St., Gastonia, NC
Registration Info: 704.865.3291 - Register before July 17th
Learn to safely can vegetables in this hands-on pressure canning class.

Planting a Fall Garden
August 13th
6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Cost: $10
Instructor: Julie Flowers
Location: Citizens Resource Center, Dallas
Registration Info: 704.922.2112
Registration Deadline: Augsut 6th
Come learn the finer points of cool season vegetable gardening. Fall provides optimal conditions for growing a plethora of tasty treats! (Registration fee includes a meal.)

You Can Can Salsa!
August 14th - 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. or August 28th - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Cost: $10
Instructor: Linda Minges
Location: Lucille Tatum Center, 959 Osceola St., Gastonia, NC
Registration Info: 704.865.3291- Register before August 8th
Learn to safely can fresh tomato salsa with this hands-on canning class.

Raising Backyard Chickens
August 14th
6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $10
Instructor: Lara Worden
Location: Citizens Resource Center, Dallas
Registration Info: 704.922.2112 - Register before August 8th
Learn the basics of raising chickens: breeds; where to buy hatchlings and hens; requirements for housing, feeding and lights; and regulations for selling eggs from home. (registration fee includes a meal.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

NC Egg Safety Training for Small Producers

Date: March 20, 2013
Location: Poultry Teaching Unit, 2801 Inwood Rd, Raleigh, NC
Registration Fee: $50 (Registration covers printed class materials, Biosecurity garments for hands on training and lunch)
The program is designed to instruct small producers selling eggs through Farmers Markets, Cooperatives, and CSAs. The training will be aimed to provide instruction to these producers to improve their understanding of egg safety. Training will be provided on principles of egg safety plans, monitoring, testing methods currently used, and what consumers are expecting, so that they can improve the safety and quality of the eggs. By attending they will have an understanding of the strategies they need to implement to improve the safety of the shell eggs they produce.
  • Registration
  • Introductions
  • What is Egg Safety and Quality, and what is expected by customers
  •  Egg Safety Components
    • Egg Handling
    •  Egg Washing
    • Refrigeration
    • Production Environment
    • Insect and Rodent Control
  • Packaging And Labeling
  • Monitoring of an Egg Safety Program
  • Testing to show your program works
    • NCDA&CS Services
      • Flock Health
      • Testing Laboratory
  • NC Egg Laws

Monday, February 4, 2013

Upcoming Regional VAD Programs

Free workshops on Voluntary Agricultural District (VAD) programs will be held in February and March across North Carolina. There are now over 84 of these programs in North Carolina.

*February 4 - Plymouth, N.C. - Vernon G. James Research and Extension Center (Northeast)

*February 18 - Mount Olive, N.C. - Lois G. Britt Agribusiness Center, Mount Olive College (Southeast)

*February 25 - Elon, N.C. - Elon University (Piedmont)

*March 6 - Newton, N.C. - Catawba County Agricultural Resources Center (Foothills/Western Piedmont)

*March 22 - Franklin, N.C. - Cowee Elementary School (West)

These workshops are for board members, program staff, including cooperative extension and soil and water conservation district employees, planners, municipal/county managers, farmers, citizens -- and those local governments considering adopting or amending a VAD or Enhanced VAD program ordinance.

Registration is now open: .

Topics to be covered will include:
*Overview of voluntary agricultural district programs and farmland protection planning
*Incentives for program participation
*Considerations for program success
*Overview of regional initiatives pertaining to farm operation and protection -- and economic development
*Program signage on right-of-ways and private property
*Farmland impact assessment for transportation planning
*Food Safety Modernization Act, estate planning and taxes, farm labor
*And other topics...

Registration and workshop information is available here: http://www.ncadfp.org/vadprogram.htm

 There is no fee for this workshop.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2013 Putting Small Acreage to Work Conference

Even though we had inclement weather to contend with, the turnout for the Putting Small Acreage to Work conference was good.

Also, all of the resource materials and most of the presentations are loaded on this site. Just go to the lefthand column and scroll down midway to Additional Pages section and click on 2013 Putting Small Acreage to Work Conference Resources tab.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pastured Poultry All Day Seminar

Date: February 7, 2013

Location: Alamance County Center
209-C N Graham-Hopedale Rd
Burlington, NC 27217
(336) 570-6740

9-10 am
Registration – There is a $10 fee to cover lunch and educational materials. Please be prepared to pay at the door. Bring checks or correct change. See RSVP info at the end of this message.

10-10:15 am
Welcome – Roger Cobb, Alamance Co. Cooperative Extension Director
Housekeeping – Dan Campeau, Cooperative Extension Specialized Area Poultry Agent
10:15-11:00 am
Bio-security and Keeping your Flock Healthy – Dr. Donna Carver, NCSU Poultry Veterinarian

11-11:45 am
Niche Egg Production Using Alternative Poultry Species – Jeannette Beranger, American Livestock Breeds Conservancy

Realistic Yield Expectations and How to Get your Birds Processed – Chaudhry Halal Poultry Processing

Noon-1:00 pm
Catered Lunch

1:00-1:15 pm
NC Laws and Regulations that Affect Small-scale Poultry Producers – Dan Campeau

1:15-2:00 pm
Turkey Production Experiences, Market and Processing Challenges – Alex Hitt, Peregrine Farm

2:00-2:30 pm
Forages for the Birds – Dan Campeau

2:30-3:00 pm
Panel Discussion, Questions

3:00 pm

*RSVP - Please respond by Friday, February 1, 2013. We need to make sure we have enough lunches ready for everyone. There are space limitations. First 80 people to sign up will be able to attend!

By email: Please email extension.programs@chathamnc.org . Please put meeting name and meeting date in subject line and below as a message. That way our support staff will know what meeting you want to sign up for.

By phone: Please call Chatham County Cooperative Extension at 919-542-8202 during business hours. Please let Chatham Co. staff what meeting you would like to sign up for.