Thursday, December 9, 2010

Putting Small Acreage to Work is a Success!

On December 4th, Gaston County Cooperative Extension hosted a "Putting Small Acreage to Work" Conference where 65 participants learned how to make a living or supplemental income off their land. The amazing thing is that 55 of the particpants (85%) were from my four county area, verifying that local Extension progaming is still needed and appreciated! Topics discussed at the conference included: tree fruit production, use of high tunnels for season extension, grass-based sheep production, small scale rabbit production, successful vegetable gardening, small ruminant herd health, small acreage rotational/intensive grazing, mushroom production, selling to restaurants & independent retailers, understanding sales tax issued on agricultural products, and internet & social media for farmers. Fifty-six percent of the participants indicated that they were already actively engaged in an agricultural enterprise, and 54% of those individuals had intentions of expanding or diversifying their operations in the next 12 months. Fourty-two percent of the participants were not actively engaged in agriculture, but after attending this conference, they all stated that they intend to implement an agricultural enterprise within the next 12 months!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Food Safety - Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Training

December 8-9 from 9am-3pm
James Warren Citizens Center, Lincolnton NC

Learn how to keep your fresh produce safe with Good Agricultural Practices that farms and packing facilities need for the certifications required in many situations. This event can help prepare you for a GAP certification audit.

Call 704.922.2124 or 704.736.8452 for more information and to register

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Planning the Future of Your Farm: Ways to Transfer Land Program

On Thursday, December 9, 2010, North Carolina Cooperative Extension will present “Planning the Future of Your Farm: Ways to Transfer Land” from 6:00 until 9:00 pm at the James Warren Citizen Center, 115 West Main Street, Lincolnton, NC. The featured speaker will be Andrew Branan, J.D., attorney and former executive director of the North Carolina Farm Transition Network. Also speaking will be Brad Rivers with the Small Business Development center to talk about the different types of business set ups, as well as, someone from Catawba Land Conservation to talk about easements. Each speaker will discuss different methods of transferring land and the implications of each method. On Friday morning, December 10, Branan will be offering private consultations at the Lincoln County Extension office. There will be a limited number of these consultations, so it is important to call early. Please make a reservation for these opportunities by December 8 by calling 704-736-8452.

If you already have an estate plan or have been interested in ways that you can transfer your land, we encourage you to attend this program. It will have lots of information to get you (and your family) started down the right path. By setting up appointments with Andrew Branan, you get an opportunity to talk one-on-one with him regarding your farm’s situation.

If you have any questions or would like to attend please call 704-736-8452. You may speak with Libby Yarber or Leigh Guth if you have any questions.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New Farm Tax Education Webpage

Utah State University Cooperative Extension is hosting a new website, Rural Tax Education, which is meant to provide farmers and ranchers, and other agricultural producers with a source for agriculturally related income and self-employment tax information that is both current and easy to understand.

Topics include:
  • Fact sheets on many agricultural income tax issues including examples
  • Topics incorporating both tax and farm management issues
  • Sample federal farm income tax returns
  • Links to other useful tax information

New Tax Breaks/Penalties for Small Businesses

In late September, Congress enacted the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, in an effort to help the economy recover. Here a just a few key provisions that may impact farmers:
  • Expanded Section 179 Deductions. The annual limit is now $500,000 for the tax years 2010 and 2011.
  • Extension of 50% Bonus Depreciation. Congress has renewed the ability to deduct 50% of the cost of new (NOT used) asset purchases, to the extent not already deducted under Section 179. The problem here is that Congress enacted this incentive at the end of September, and it expires Dec. 31, 2010, regardless of your tax year.
  • Tax Break for the Self-Employed. Self-employed proprietors and partners can now deduct 100% of their health insurance for income taxes. For one year only in 2010, health insurance will also be a deduction in computing the self-employment tax.
  • 1099 Reporting by Landlords. Now for the bad news - those who own real estate and receive rental income are now in the 1099 game. If a landlord pays more than $600 to an individual or partnership for services, the property owner is considered to be conducting a business and must issue a 1099 to the payee. This requirement begins with payments made after 2010. (2011 is the first year for issuing a 1099 report.)
  • Increase in Information Return Penalties. Penalties are now doubled for businesses that fail to issue a 1099 to the IRS and the payee. They max out at $100 for failure to furnish a 1099 to the IRS and another $100 for failing to furnish a report to the payee.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Putting Small Acreage to Work Conference

If you are looking for ways to make a living or supplement your income off of your land, we invite you to attend the Putting Small Acreage to Work Conference on December 4, 2010 at the Gaston County Citizens Resource Center in Dallas, NC from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Whether for profit or personal enjoyment, a new project should be carefully thought out. This conference will provide information for people interested in starting or expanding small scale farm enterprises. You will be able to explore alternative enterprises by speaking with successful producers, university personnel, and experts in the field who are already growing, producing, and researching various crops, livestock and field techniques to enhance production. They can give you the practical, no-nonsense advice you will need when considering business planning, crop & livestock production, market development, etc. Topics to be discussed include: tree fruit production, use of high tunnels for season extension, grass-based sheep production, small scale rabbit production, successful vegetable gardening from A to Z, small ruminant herd health, small acreage rotational/intensive grazing, mushroom production, selling to restaurants & independent retailers, understanding sales tax issued on agricultural products, and internet & social media for farmers.

The program will include one general opening session and three breakout sessions. Three to four topics will be discussed concurrently during each of these breakout sessions. Participants will receive resource materials for all sessions.

PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Registration forms and fees are due by 12/01/2010 . Checks made out to NC Cooperative Extension – Gaston County. Call Lara Worden at 704-922-2112 for more information.

Monday, October 11, 2010

ISAMPA Fall 2010 Production Workshop

Poultry Incubation: Hatching for Success
Rabbit Production: Best Practices from Kit to Market
2011 WNC Heritage Poultry Project
ISAMPA Annual Membership Meeting

Saturday, November 6, 2010
2pm to 6pm
McDowell Technical Community College

The Independent Small Animal Meat Processors Association (ISAMPA) is pleased to announce the fall 2010 production workshop and annual membership meeting.

On Saturday, November 6, 2010, participants will gather from 2pm to 5pm at McDowell Technical Community College for a series of presentations on various aspects of poultry and rabbit production.

Our featured presenters include South Carolina poultry grower Gra' Moore. Mr. Moore will give a presentation on how to do poultry incubation on your own farm. A major bottleneck in efficient and profitable production can now be overcome following Moore's lessons for on-farm incubation of eggs.

We are very fortunate to have Dr. Anne Fanatico, a nationally-recognized small scale poultry expert, present on the latest trends and research in small-scale meat poultry operations. Anne recently joined the faculty at Appalachian State University and is now a North Carolina resident!

Jim Adkins, also a recently-arrived North Carolina resident, returns to our workshop series to present on an exciting new project to support increased production of standard breed ("heritage") poultry on NC farms.

For rabbit producers, ISAMPA board members Stephen McMurray and Rick Harty will give presentations on best practices for rabbit meat production, including helpful advice on breeding, raising, slaughter, and marketing.

At 5pm, workshop participants are invited to attend a dinner and ISAMPA's annual membership meeting. A catered meal is included with workshop registration. We'll discuss the coming year and latest developments in the small scale meat processing world.

Following the membership meeting and dinner, we'll offer a quick tour of the Foothills Pilot Plant facility, now under construction just a half mile from McDowell Tech.

There's something for everyone at this event, so don't miss out on this chance to learn and network with your fellow small scale poultry and rabbit producers.

Workshop registration cost is free to ISAMPA members and $15 for non-members. Membership renewal will be available at the workshop, with new ISAMPA members receiving free workshop access with their 2011 yearly membership fee ($20).

Please RSVP by Tuesday, November 2 by calling Smithson Mills at 828-273-9119, or by emailing Please give your name, phone number, and email address when your register.

Directions to McDowell Tech: McDowell Tech's campus is located right off exit 86 at I-40 in Marion, NC. Follow signs for the workshop when you enter campus drive.

This workshop is organized by the Independent Small Animal Meat Processors Association of Western North Carolina (ISAMPA), with generous support from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and McDowell County. ISAMPA's mission includes: Promoting best practices for raising, processing and marketing small meat animals; support for the development of a small animal processing facility meeting state or federal inspection requirements, and; raising public awareness of small animal meat products humanely raised and processed in a manner that contributes to the social, economic, and environmental well being of Western North Carolina's people and natural resources.

ISAMPA Fall Production Workshop Agenda
Saturday, November 6

2pm: Welcome and Introductions

2:15pm: Poultry Incubation: Hatching for Success

3:15pm: Break

3:30pm: Breakout sessions

2011 WNC Heritage Poultry Project and Latest Industry Updates
Jim Adkins and Dr. Anne Fanatico

Rabbit Production: Best Practice from Kit to Market
Stephen McMurray and Rick Harty

4:30pm: Networking and socializing

5pm: Dinner and ISAMPA Membership Meeting

5:45: Site visit: Foothills Pilot Plant

6:00: Conclusion

NCSU Fall/Winter 2010 Horse Owner Educational Sessions

Local horse enthusiasts are invited to participate in a series of monthly educational programs on horse management. The sessions will be held at the Citizens Resource Center in Dallas, North Carolina and are sponsored by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Each individual program will last approximately 1.5 hours including time for question and answer sessions with presenters. Each session will begin with registration and refreshments at 6:30 p.m and the presentation at 7:00 p.m.

Program dates and topics are listed below:
October 19—Treating Laminitis by Dr. Richard Mansmann
November 16– Preventing and Managing Laminitis

These programs will originate from the Extension Horse Husbandry department at NC State University and local downlinks will be possible through the Elluminate technology. All sessions are open to the public and are free of charge. The Gaston County Horseman’s Association will sponsor the refreshments for the series.

Pre-registration is required!
If we do not meet the required minimum number of registrants (10) by the Monday before the event, the class will be cancelled.
To register, contact Gaston County Cooperative Extension at 704-922-2112.

The Citizens Resource Center is located on Highway 279 just west of Highway 321 and Gaston Community College. For more information contact Lara Worden at (704) 922-2112.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Present-Use Value Workshop

Date: Thursday, October 7th
Time: 6-9 p.m.
Location: Gaston Citizens Resource Center, 1303 Dallas-Cherryville Hwy, Dallas, NC

The Present-Use Value Program is a state program that permits agriculture, horticulture or foresty land owners to defer a portion of their annual property tax, if the owner meets all of the Present-Use Value Program criteria.

If you have questions about the Present-Use Value Program, please join us Thursday, October 7th at 6 p.m.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

NC State Fair Hay Show

The NC State Fair and the “Hay Show” is right around the corner and those of you who are proud of your hay crop are encouraged to enter hay samples for this year’s competition. You still have 1 1/2 weeks to submit the sample to the NCDA&CS lab as the deadline for submission is September 17th. Make sure you label it as a State Fair entry. Cost is $10, the only fee. Official state fair entry forms are due by September 24th.

Get a 6" block of hay (same hay that was analyzed) to the fairgrounds before 10 am Thursday October 14th, and its OK to get the sample there the day before on Wednesday. If you would have trouble getting it to the State Fair, contact Libby Yarber at 704-736-8452 and get a block of hay to her no later than October 12th. The judging will take place on Thursday morning (October 14th).

There are nine classes of hay judged in the show. Hay is judged both on physical/visual appraisal and its chemical analysis. The premium book with prize info, rules, classes and entry forms can be found at:

If you have any questions about the “Hay Show” please contact Libby Yarber at 704-736-8452.

Western On-Farm Poultry Processing Regulation Workshop

This free workshop is designed for ALL poultry growers who are processing on-farm under exemption, regardless of how many birds you raise and market. If you raise, process and sell between 1 and 20,000 birds annually, you need this information!

WHO: All poultry growers who process on-farm for commercial sale

WHAT: New guidelines for on-farm processing exemptions, allowing producers to sell up to 20,000 birds on farm. The new guidelines apply to ALL on-farm processing.

WHERE: Burke County Cooperative Extension Center, Morganton, NC. Google Map.

WHEN: Monday, September 13th 6:30-8:30PLEASE RSVP by September 10th to

PROGRAM:6:30-8:00- Don Delozier, Director of NC Meat and Poultry Inspection and Alan Wade, MPID Head Compliance Officer, will discuss the new regulations and accountability systems for exempt on-farm processing of poultry. The new rules increased the number of birds allowed to be processed and sold off your farm from 1,000 to 20,000 birds annually. ALL on-farm processors, regardless of volume will need to adhere to the new regulations.

8:00-9:00pm- NC Choices will present a slide show of small, on-farm processing facilities.This is a unique opportunity to learn how others manage on-farm processing and make sure your systems are in compliance with state regulations. MPID representatives will be on-hand for case by case questions. The Sustainable Agriculture Program at Western Piedmont Community College is offering a bus tour of their facilities beginning at 5pm. The bus will leave from the Burke Cooperative Extension Building a will return by 6:15. Contact Chip Hope for more info on the tour and program.

NC Choices would like to extend a thank you to the administration and staff of the NC Meat and Poultry Inspection Division for their efforts in helping local, small scale poultry growers expand production through these new guidelines.

2010 NCSU Small Flock Poultry Production Field Day

When: September 8th, 2010
Where: Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station,74 Research Dr., Mills River, NC 28759
Time: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Topics to be covered:
  • Small flock husbandry practices
  • On farm processing of broilers and turkeys
  • Heritage breeds to choose for egg and meat production on range conditions
  • Forages and rotation programs for range poultry production
  • Health programs
  • Biosecurity and how to be a good neighbor
  • Marketing your final product

For further information contact Ken Anderson at 919.515.5527 or

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First Annual Angus Field Day

Date: September 25th, 2010

Time: 10 am to 2 pm

Location: Clint Harrell Angus Farm, 204 Hilltop Farm Lane, Forest City, 28043

Topics to be Covered:

  • Pasture Management/Fencing by Libby Yarber

  • Bull Management/Selection by Gary Gregory

  • Marketing Cattle ( Speaker TBA)

There will be vendors from several animal health and livestock related companies. Some of those companies are:

  • Novartis

  • CPC Animal Healthcare

  • ABS

  • Accelerated Genetics

  • NC Cattlemen's Association

  • NC Angus Association

  • And More

There will be door prizes and a meal sponsored by Novartis and First Bank and Trust.

Contact Clint Harrell @ 828-429-9273 or your local Extension Agent.

Friday, August 13, 2010


The Rural Advancement Foundation International - USA will offer almost $2 million in grants to North Carolina farmers in 2011. The grants will be supported by the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and Governor Purdue's Family Farm Innovation Fund.

RAFI's grant program, the Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund, offers awards of up to $10,000 for individual producers and up to $30,000 for collaborative farmer projects. The program funds projects that demonstrate innovative opportunities in production, processing and marketing or that show new ways of using obsolete farm equipment or facilities.

"RAFI was able to fund only 25 percent of the over 450 applications received for 2010," said Linda Shaw, Executive Director. "We are thrilled that RAFI will be able to help even more farmers as a result of this funding." Grant applications for the 2011 funding cycle and a schedule of workshops for prospective applicants are available now at

Gaston County Cooperative Extension will host a RAFI grant application information meeting on
October 18th at the Gaston Citizens Resource Center starting at 6:30 p.m.

For further information contact Francesca Hyatt at (919) 323-7587.

Animal Welfare Approved Announces 2011 Good Husbandry Grants

Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) is pleased to announce that it will offer a third year of Good Husbandry Grants. AWA is seeking proposals for projects to improve farm animal welfare with a concentration on three areas: increased outdoor access, improved genetics and improved slaughter facilities. Animal Welfare Approved is a free third party certification for independent family farms raising animals humanely, outdoors on pasture or range. Current Animal Welfare Approved farmers and those who have applied to join the program are eligible for grants of up to $5,000. Farmers may apply for certification and for a grant simultaneously. Slaughter plants working with AWA farms are also eligible to apply but should contact Grants Coordinator Emily Lancaster to discuss proposed projects before submitting a proposal. Examples of projects funded in previous cycles include mobile housing, a mobile processing unit, infrastructure to facilitate humane handling and breeding stock adapted to pasture-based management.

The deadline for proposals is October 1, 2010. Guidelines, FAQ’s, project profiles and an application form are available at or by contacting Emily Lancaster at 919.428.1641 or

Mount Holly Farm Fest 2010

A fundraiser of Live Music and Fresh Local Food to support Programs at the Mount Holly Farmers Market.

Date: October 2nd, 2010
Time: 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Location: Redlair Farm & Forest - A 730 Acre Preserve!
144 Redlair Lane, Gastonia, NC
Seating: Bring blankets or chairs
Tickets: $20 for adults; $10 for students 12 & over; children under 12 free
*** Price includes dinner and tea

You can purchase tickets at the Mount Holly Market, on the market website:, or at Charlie's Drug Store in Mount Holly.

Call 704-609-0666 for further information.

Sheep/Goat Workshops

North Carolina A&T State University Cooperative Extension in collaboration with Rockingham County Cooperative Extension will be providing a goat and sheep workshop on August 23, 2010 with two sessions to choose from. Session 1 will be held from 1 pm to 5 pm. Session 2 will be held from 6:45 pm to 9 pm. You are invited to join in either or both Sessions. There is no cost for either session but a meal is not included. Both Sessions will be located at the Rockingham County Cooperative Extension Office at 525 NC Hwy 65, Ste 200, Reidsville, NC 27320.

Session 1 will include integrated parasite management for livestock, including goat and sheep FAMACHA© eyelid color scoring certification and optional fecal egg count hands-on training. This session starts at 1 pm and will be followed by hands-on training at the Upper Piedmont Research Station Chiqua-Penn sale barn with goats.

Session 2 will include presentations on breeding stock selection for sheep and goats in different production systems (purebred/show or commercial), including how to choose new stock or replacement animals and when to cull breeding males or females. It will also include a section on how different breed goats perform on pasture, with results of 3 years of studies conducted and presented by Dr. Richard Browning at Tennessee State University. Dr. Maria Leite-Browning, DVM from Alabama A&M University will present information about relevant diseases in goats, including CL, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and will talk briefly about parasite issues (coccidia and worms).

For more information or to register, please call or Email Ben Chase, Extension Livestock Agent In Rockingham & Guilford Counties at 800-666-3625 or Indicate which session (or both) you are planning to attend.

Know Your Farms Annual Farm Tours

The annual Know Your Farms tour of farms in the Charlotte, NC region is scheduled for September 18th and 19th from 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Purchase one ticket, gather your friends into a vehicle, visit any of the participating farms. Come see sustainable agricultural practices; learn about healthy, local food; pick up tips for your own food garden; and enjoy a day in the countryside! Support your local farmers by attending. Bring a cooler, as the farms will be selling their meat, produce, eggs, and more. Please leave pets at home.

For more information go to:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mobile Processing Unit May Help Farmers

See this morning's article on mobile poultry processing units in the News and Observer:

There are currently two Mobile Poultry Processing Units that can be rented by area farmers - one located in McDowell County is managed by Foothills Family Farms in Old Fort, NC, not Flat Rock (as the article mentions). More information can be found here: . Email inquiries to

The second mobile processing unit is at Wild Turkey Farms in Salisbury, NC. For more information on the Mobile Processing Unit at Wild Turkey Farms email

NCSU Hands-on Farmstead Cheesemaking Short Course

November 30-December 2, 2010: 7th annual NCSU Hands-on Farmstead Cheesemaking Short Course at NC State University in Raleigh, NC.

Download the short course brochure for the complete agenda and registration information:

Registration is limited to 20 participants. This course ALWAYS fills up fast (likely within a few weeks from today), so don't wait to register!

Contact Gary Cartwright at 919-513-2488 for more information

Thursday, July 22, 2010

N.C. Cooperative Extension Partners with 10% Local Food Campaign

North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Gaston county will be supporting a new statewide effort to build North Carolina’s local food economy - entitled the 10% Campaign. The campaign is an effort to encourage North Carolina consumers to spend 10 percent of their food dollars on foods from local sources.

Through the campaign website – -- consumers and businesses will pledge to spend 10 percent of their food dollars locally, purchasing products from area farmers and food producers. Campaign participants will receive weekly email reminders to report how much money they spent on local food. The website will show consumers how their dollars spent on local foods grows.

North Carolinians spend about $35 billion a year on food. If each person spent just 10 percent on food locally – roughly $1.05 per day – then approximately $3.5 billion would be available in the state’s economy.

The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) and Cooperative Extension are partners in the campaign. Extension, based at N.C. State and N.C. A&T State universities, serves all the state’s 100 counties and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee. CEFS is a partnership of N.C. State, N.C. A&T State and the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Sciences that provides research, outreach and education on sustainable education and promotes local food economies in North Carolina.

Cooperative Extension’s local foods coordinator will help connect consumers and food producers and support local businesses and organizations who want to spend 10 percent of their food dollars locally. Local food coordinators will personally contact businesses and organizations that register through the website to help them develop a plan for purchasing local products. In addition, the 10% Campaign website provides a “Find Local Foods” page with links to help consumers find local food and farm products in their own communities. A “Learn More” page includes links to information on a variety of partner organizations, such as Slow Food USA and Eat Smart, Move More NC. There are also links to educational information on topics ranging from how to set up a workplace community-supported agriculture program to how to cook seasonal, local products.

To find out what’s happening with local foods in your county, visit your Cooperative Extension website at ( A link to the Local Foods page can be found in the left hand column of your county center’s home page.

The Compass Group of Charlotte, the world’s largest food service provider, is leading the way in the campaign by pledging to purchase 10 percent of its food from local sources. Compass Group is developing a parallel model farm-to-institution buying program and will purchase 10 percent of the produce it serves in its North Carolina accounts from local farmers in the state.

Funding for the 10% Campaign and website is provided by Golden LEAF.

Among the Hmong

With an estimated 15,000, North Carolina is believed to have the fourth largest Hmong population in the U.S. Most of the N.C. Hmong live in Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, with a few in Lincoln, Stanley and Gaston counties.

As a result of a three-year grant obtained from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement, the United Hmong Association (UHA) of Catawba County teamed up with N.C. A&T State University and NC Cooperative Extension to form HRAPP - Hmong Rural Agricultural Partnership Program (HRAPP). The three-year grant program (scheduled to wrap up by the end of 2010) has included two multiple week, intensive growers schools, several educational field days and workshops, individual farmer consults, inseption of a 1-acre demonstration farm with a high tunnel and community gardens that support six Hmong families. To learn more about this relatively new farming culture in North Carolina, check out this article from the Charlotte Observer:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Gaston County Parks & Rec Seeking Out Produce Vendors!

Gaston County Parks is celebrating Park and Recreation Month by holding several fun activities throughout the month of July. To see all the event they have planned, go to

The final event of the month is a one-time Farmers' Market in Dallas Park (i.e. Biggerstaff Park) on Friday, July 30th from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Gaston Parks and Recreation is currently seeking out vendors who have produce to sell. If you are interested, in participating in this one-time market, contact Gaston County Parks and Recreation at 704-922-2160 for a vendor application.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Organic No-Till Corn & Soybean Production Workshop

Thursday, July 15, 20104:30 – 7 p.m.
Piedmont Research Station and Hoffner Dairy Farm, Salisbury, N.C.
Registration Fee: FREE
Coordinator: Molly Hamilton
Instructors: Dr. Chris Reberg-Horton, Dr. Julie Grossman, Mary Parr, George Place

This is an on-farm workshop hosted by NC State University that will demonstrate no-till/roll-kill practices that can be used in organic corn and soybean production. The technique for planting corn and soybeans into roll-killed cover crops will be discussed, and potential follow-up weed control methods will be demonstrated. Crop yields, fertility and crop management will also be discussed, as well as research results from the previous year. To register, please contact Molly Hamilton at or 828-273-1041.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

2010 Forage Field Day

NC State University's Mountain Research Station in Waynesville, N.C. is hosting an all day Forage Field Day on July 20, 2010.

Program Agenda:

9:30 to 10:30 am
Seeding equipment demonstration and calibration of seeders

10:30 to 11:30 am
Strip grazing demonstration
Weed identification in a pasture

11:45 to 12:15 pm
Trade show

12:15 to 1 pm
Lunch (Sponsored by Carolina Farm Credit)

1 to 1:30 pm
Regulations for hauling agriculture equipment

1:30 to 2 pm
Introduction of non-demonstration vendors

2 to 3 pm
Watering systems
Soil sampling

3 to 3:45 pm
Herbicide spraying demonstrations

3:45 to 4:15 pm
Herbicide plot demonstrations

I will be taking a van from the Gaston County Cooperative Extension office to attend this event. If anybody is interested in attending and would prefer to car-pool, please contact me at 704-922-2112.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Beef Quality Assurance Training

Local beef cattle producers are invited to attend a training session on Beef Quality Assurance hosted by NC Cooperative Extension in Dallas on June 17 at 7 PM. This course covers information on safe handling and use of vaccines and other animal health products, feed management, reducing beef quality losses, safe and humane treatment of cattle, biosecurity and marketing. Producers may be recognized for having this training course when marketing their animals and feeder calf buyers are increasingly asking for BQA certification from their suppliers. BQA has been in existence for almost 10 years and has had a major impact in reducing beef quality losses across the United States.

Cattle producers interested in the Beef Quality Assurance training may participate at the Gaston County Extension office on Thursday, June 17 at 7 PM. This will include training which lasts approximately an hour and a half followed by the certification exam. Certification costs $15 and there is an additional $25 for those not currently members of the NC Cattlemen’s Association.

Attendees may pay by check only, no cash.

Please call Christine Sellers at the Gaston County Extension Office at (704) 922-2112 to register by phone so course materials can be secured.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Local Hmongs Learn About Sustainable Livestock Production

The United Hmong Association of Hickory, NC partnered with NC Cooperative Extension to educate and expose area Hmong farmers to sustainable, small-scale livestock production.

The first stop on our tour was Grateful Growers in Denver, NC, where owner/proprietor, Natalie Veres, shared that her farm raises a menagerie of farm animals on ten acres, but the cornerstone of their production is the 'Tamworth' hogs that they raise for meat on pasture.

Natalie talked in detail about her production practices, the importance of providing abundant forages, quality feeds, and providing ample shade, water, and shelter from the elements. Natalie also went on to say that they do not use added hormones or antibiotics in growing their animals, and the finished products are all free from fillers, preservatives, nitrates and MSG.

Our next stop was Gilcrest Natural farm of Iron Station, NC, where owner, Amy Foster, introduced us to her pasture-raised poultry and all-natural beef operation. Amy farms on approximately 30 acres and has the unique opportunity to raise her starter chicks in her version of the 'White House.'

Amy then gave us a tour to show us the progression of poultry production on the farm for both her layer and broiler flocks. She also shared with us the use of 'chicken tractors' and the important role they play in the everyday life of chickens on Gilcrest Natural Farm.

Next we checked out her small herd of all natural, grass-fed angus cattle that she raises to a weight of approximately 1100-1200 lbs before they are processed for meat and direct marketed to consumers through area farmers' markets. Amy shared with the Hmongs that it is important to her that she never use hebicides/pesticides on the farm and her poutry and cattle never recieve antibiotics and/or hormones. Just like Grateful Growers, she is striving for a "Healthy, All Natural Meat Product!"

Upcoming Food Preservation Classes

NC Cooperative Extension in Cleveland, Gaston, and Lincoln Counties are hosting three "Safe and Easy Ways to Preserve Food" classes.

These classes are for anyone who
  • is new to canning or has not canned in a long time.
  • uses old canning recipes - such as grandma's recipes, church cookbooks, etc.

  • uses recipes that are not Extension approved.

  • uses water bath canners for green beans, corn and other low-acid vegetables.

Choose from three classes:
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
6:00 – 8:30 pm
Cleveland County Extension Service
130 S. Post Rd., Suite 1
Shelby, NC 28152
Contact: Nancy Jones
Make checks payable to:
Cleveland County Extension Service
Registration Deadline: May 18, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010
6:00 – 8:30 pm
Lincoln County Citizens Center
115 West Main St.
Lincolnton, NC 28092
Contact: Melinda Houser
Make checks payable to:
Lincoln County LCFCS
Registration Deadline: June 3, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010
6:00 – 8:30 pm
Lucile Tatum Homemaker’s Center
959 Osceola St.
Gastonia, NC 28052
Contact: Sue Bugg
Make checks payable to:
Gaston County Cooperative Extension
Registration Deadline: June 7, 2010

Class registration fee is $5.00 and includes handout material. Seating is limited and pre-registration is required. To register for a class, call the Extension Agent in the county where you plan to attend the workshop.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pond Management Training/Webinar

Gaston County Cooperative Extension will be a host site for a webinar from Haywood County about Pond Management. So if you have weed problems in your pond or if you simply want to learn more about how to better manage your pond for fishing, swimming, aesthetics, or other interests, please come join us!

Date: May 13th, 2010
Time: 9:00 a.m. - noon
Location: Gaston Citizens Resource Center, Dallas, NC

Experts from across the state will discuss: pond construction, stocking rates, fish species, managing water quality, balancing fish populations, recreational trout ponds, feeding fish, aquatic weed identification and control methods.

Pesticide credits have been approved for 1 hour in the categories of A N D X. The registration fee of $5 per person will be taken on-site and checks should be made payable to NC Cooperative Extension.

If you have any additional questions regarding this training, please contact us at 704-922-2112.

New Resource Pages

Today I am launching two new pages, a Farmers' Market resource page and a Direct Marketing Meats resource page, on the Foothills Sustainable Agriculture News blog. These pages will be maintains as an information portal for processing, meat handling, direct marketing, food safety, listing of area farmers' markets, and just a general resource guide to help producers and vendors.

The new Farmers' Market and Direct Marketing Meats pages can be found just under the "Additional Pages" icon on the left hand column of the home page of the blog.

If you have any suggestions of information that you think should be posted on these pages, please let me know!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Announcing Youth Farm to Fork Summer Camp

Gaston County 4-H is hosting a summer camp that will focus on local foods through engaging kids in field trips to produce and livestock farms, pick and taste produce and talk with farmers, planning and preparing an all local meal, a visit to the local farmers market, a hands-on chance to set-up and grow their own garden, complete with bee keeping demonstrations, gardening activities, and gardening arts and crafts.

Participants: Children ages 9 -12 who are interested in food and gardening.

Dates: July 7th - 9th, 2010
Times: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day

Registration & Rates: Space is limited to ensure a quality experience for all participants. The rate is $50 per child.

For further information on this summer camp or additional camp opportunities, contact the Gaston County Cooperative Extension office at 704-922-2110.

New Dairy Resource Book

I often get asked questions about where to find resources on cheese/butter processing, what rules and regulations are involved, marketing of dairy fresh products, etc. I often have to spend several hours gathering resources on these topics, but now there is an excellent resource guide put out by SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) entitled The Small Dairy Resource book.

This book evaluates the pros and cons of more than 150 resources, from the most current information in print and online to obscure, out-of-print publications that are useful for their timeless knowledge. Resource formats include books, periodicals, videos, Web sites and others on a wide range of topics related to farmstead dairy processing.

Resources are broken into the following categories:
· Cheesemaking
· Ice cream
· Dairy processing
· Dairy animals
· Business and marketing
· Butter
· Other dairy foods
· Food safety
· Feeds and grazing

Download it for free at

Friday, April 23, 2010

Buttercup - A Pretty But Nasty Weed

In the last week, my phone has been ringing off the hook about a weed with yellow flowers in area pastures and hay fields. Without actually looking at a sample, my guess is that it is most likely a species of buttercup. Buttercup is a pretty weed (if only I could get my flowers in my garden to grow as fast as buttercup does); however, it can reek havoc on pasture and hay land.

Two of the common buttercups found in North Carolina are hairy buttercup and bulbous buttercup. Hairy buttercup appears to be predominant in the Piedmont and mountain regions, while bulbous buttercup is readily found in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions. Hairy buttercup is a hairy plant with erect, hairy stems (single or branching from the base) and a fibrous root system. Vegetative characteristics of hairy buttercup are similar to those of bulbous buttercup, except for the bulb-like swelling at the base of the stem on bulbous buttercup. Smallflower buttercup is also found in North Carolina, and can be distinguished from hairy buttercup by the lack of hairs on its leaves. In addition, hairy and bulbous buttercup have lobed leaves, whereas most of the lower leaves of smallflower buttercup are unlobed.

Buttercup is a winter annual or perrenial weed which germinate in the fall or winter and grow durings any warm weather, which may occur in the winter, but otherwise remains somewhat dormant during the winter. They resume growth and produce seed in the spring and die as temperatures increase in late spring and early summer. They quickly invade thin turf areas especially where there is good soil moisture. Shade may also encourage growth. Many have a prostrate growth habit and are not affected by mowing. A dense, vigorous turf is the best way to reduce the encroachment of winter annual weeds. First, select adapted grass cultivars for your area and then properly fertilize, mow, and water to encourage dense growth.

Fortunately, buttercup can be controlled with a number of broadleaf herbicides; however, keep in mind the most effective time to spray is going to be in early spring and fall.

So, if you think you have a problem with this particular weed and need to know what, when, and where to spray, please give me a call at 70-922-2112!

Honey Bees

A fellow colleague of mine, Linda Minges, posted a great article on the importance of honey bees, interesting honey facts, cooking with honey, who to contact if you have a bee swarm and information on a local learning opportunity entitled, "The Amazing Honey Bee" scheduled on Thursday, May 13th from 6:30-8:30pm at the Lucile Tatum Center, Gastonia. Guest speaker Cindy Austin, expert bee educator and bee keeper of the Gaston Co. Bee Keeper’s Association.

Check out the article at:

Poultry Production Workshop Opportunity

Buncombe County Cooperative Extension is hosting a Poultry Production Workshop on May 10th. This workshop is very similar to the workshop held at the Gaston Extension office in January 2009. So if you missed our workshop and are interested in incorporating poultry into your farm operation, check out the details below.

Also, I have had some discussions with a few people about holding a 'Hands-on Poultry Processing' workshop at a nearby operating poultry farm. I know this is a busy time of year for most people, but if you are interested, please let me know a time of year, and time of day (assuming it works with the poultry processing schedule) that would work best for you and if there is enough interest, we will definitely pursue this!

North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service Introduces Poultry Production Workshop

The Poultry Production Workshop will take place on May 10, 2010 at the Mountain Horticulture Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River, NC. The cost for the full-day workshop is $25 per person and includes lunch and resource materials. The workshop will be packed with experts from across the country, including Jim Adkins from the International Center for Poultry and Extension Research Specialists from NC State University.
Topics to be addressed include: Introduction to Raising Poultry on a Small Farm; Understanding Commercial, Standard Breed (heritage), and Dual Purpose Breeds of Poultry; Brooding your Baby Chicks; Biosecurity and Small Flock Health; Poultry Housing and Necessities; Marketing, Processing and Integrating with other On-farm Enterprises

The Poultry Production Workshop is FIRST COME FIRST SERVED. If you are thinking of incorporating poultry into your farm operation or looking to expand and improve your poultry business, then this workshop is for you. Come spend the day with us and learn all you need to know.

For more information contact Erin Bonito with the Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at (828)255-5522. Learn more at

Thursday, April 22, 2010

N.C's Future - A Sustainable Local Food Economy

RALEIGH, N.C. (April 21, 2010) — Building the state’s sustainable local food economy will stimulate economic development and job creation, bolster the viability of local farms and fisheries and help address diet-related health problems, reports North Carolina’s Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), one of the nation’s most respected centers for the study of environmentally sustainable farming systems.

According the U.S. Department of Agriculture, North Carolinians spend about $35 billion a year on food. If individuals spent just 10 percent, or $1.05 per day, of their existing food dollars on local foods, approximately $3.5 billion would be available in the local economy. And part of that $3.5 billion would flow back to farmers and food businesses. Greater spending locally can also increase the economic activity at the regional and community level, which can translate into jobs. From Farm to Fork: A Guide to Building North Carolina’s Sustainable Local Food Economy provides goals and strategies to put North Carolina on the fast track to achieving a sustainable local and regional food system. With its diverse agricultural economy, superior educational system and adaptable workforce, North Carolina is well positioned to lead the nation.

“Y’all are red hot,” declared Gov. Beverly Perdue while addressing more than 400 participants at the CEFS’ May 2009 Farm to Fork Summit. “You are beginning to change the tide, directing the links between local agriculture, jobs and the economy. Finally,” she added, “people across the state and the country are beginning to realize you are red hot.”

The Guide identifies nine challenges North Carolina must address to succeed, and recommends a variety of actions that can be implemented at the state and local level, starting with 11 “game changers” that are actionable within two years and statewide in scope. One major game changer—the establishment of a statewide food advisory council to engage decision makers in strategic food-systems planning and implementation—has already been accomplished. Other game changers moving forward include expanding local market opportunities by developing a model farm-to-institution program (Fort Braggs’ “Feed the Forces” program) and helping to network direct-marketing initiatives statewide; increasing consumer education and outreach (the 10% Campaign, funded by the Golden LEAF Foundation); addressing public health and food access disparities by expanding and strengthening N.C.’s SNAP-Ed program; and promoting farm-to-school programming through the development of a model farm-to-school pre-service teacher instruction program.

The Guide is the result of a yearlong “Farm to Fork” initiative spearheaded by CEFS. The initiative involved the active participation of well over 1,000 North Carolinians, and included people and organizations working in the fields of agriculture, commercial fishing, community outreach, education, faith, finance, public policy, state and local government, and youth outreach.
“North Carolina has numerous assets that make it possible to scale up our state’s response to rising consumer demand and the need for greater access to fresh, local, organic and sustainably-produced foods,” said Nancy Creamer, director of CEFS. “But moving from intent to action requires us to tackle complex issues and numerous challenges, together. On behalf of CEFS and its many partners, and for the benefit of the state as a whole, I say, let’s get started!”

Financial support for the Farm to Fork initiative came from the Golden LEAF Foundation, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, North Carolina Rural Center–Agriculture Advancement Consortium and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

About CEFS: CEFS is a partnership between North Carolina State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. Its mission is to develop and promote food and farming systems that protect the environment, strengthen local communities and provide economic opportunities in North Carolina and beyond. As one of the nation’s largest centers for the study of environmentally sustainable farming systems, CEFS has focused on advancing the scientific research base necessary to enable farmers to successfully adapt to emerging ecological issues and market trends. CEFS has also developed a strong outreach and education program that reaches all North Carolina residents.

Tweeting for Ag: Area Farmers Start Using Social Media

Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites have built their reputations on helping people keep in touch with family and long lost friends. However, a growing number of ag-related businesses and farmers across the nation are using these social media tools to communicate with customers and to educate a population, far removed from their food source, on the benefits of agriculture and buying local.

On April 13th, 2010, Gaston Cooperative Extension conducted a Social Media 101 training for area farmers. Participants set up Google accounts and their very own blog sites. Then participants were introduced to Twitter & Facebook and shown how they could harness these social media outlet to reach out to current and potential customers. There were a total of 10 participants and the entire workshop was hands-on.

If you were unable to attend this training, and you have interest in learning more about how to use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. to reach out to your community and share your agriculture story, please do not hesitate to contact me at 704-922-2112. We would be happy to reproduce this training at a later date if there is enough interest!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Grants available through NCDA&CS for specialty crops

Deadline for applications is June 4

RALEIGH -- The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is offering grants to fund new projects to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in the marketplace. The program, managed by NCDA&CS, is funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant established by the 2008 farm bill.

“We are happy to again be able to offer this program, making nearly $1.2 million available this year through a competitive grant process,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “These grants will benefit the specialty crop industry, and will help small farmers and local food efforts.”

NCDA&CS will accept grant applications ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 from non-profit organizations and corporations, commodity associations, state and local government agencies, colleges and universities. Applicants must reside or their business or educational affiliation must be in North Carolina. Applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. on June 4.

Projects involving the following specialty crops are eligible: Fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, Christmas trees, turfgrass/sod, and nursery and greenhouse crops. Funding opportunities are also available for projects aimed at developing local and regional food systems, and improving food access.

Grants will not be awarded for projects that directly benefit or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual.

For grant guidelines and an application, contact the NCDA&CS Marketing Division at, by phone at (919) 733-7887, or by mail at Specialty Crop Grant, 1020 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1020. More information is online at file://

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cornell Soil Health Assessment Training Manual

I came across this resouce and found it to be very useful!

It is a Soil Health Assessment Training Manual from NY Cooperative Extension that you can download from the website or purchase a hard copy for $15.

It provides an overview of the concept of soil health. It provides a guideline on how to conduct in-field qualitative and quantitative soil health assessments, a how-to guide for proper soil sampling, and tips on how to incorporate best management strategies for improving soil health and fertility!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Disaster Preparedness

The severe weather experienced in a number of our counties over the past 24 hours have left some building damage, flooding, and loss of power. EDEN, the Extension Disaster Education Network, working through eXtension has released four new fact sheets regarding the impact of floods on farms and methods of preparing for and recovering from flooding on the farm. In preparation for spring and the severe weather that potentially lies before us, you may want to revue the resources available through eXtension and EDEN. Their URL's are listed below.

eXtension -

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Making the Most of Your Farmers Market Business

Date: April 12, 2010
Time: 10 am to 3 pm
Location: Enka Campus, Ashville-Buncombe Technical Community College
1459 Sand Hill Rd., Candler, NC

10:00 a.m.. Introductions – Overview

10:15 a.m. Introduction to Farmers’ Markets – Dave Carter, National Bison Association
Background – Reasons for Growth
Understanding the Farmers’ Market Customer

10:45 a.m. ‘Report from the Trenches’ – Jack Pleasant

11:00 a.m. Market Rules and Regulations

11:30 a.m. Are Farmers’ Markets Right For You?

Noon Break – Lunch on Your Own

1:00 p.m. Food Safety Basics
State and Federal Regulations
Best Practices

1:30 p.m. Making the Most of Your Stall
Product Mix/Volume/Velocity
Drawing Customers into your “Store”
Selling your Story
Capitalizing on Additional Opportunities (chefs, on-line, etc.)

2:00 p.m. Product and Promotion

2:30 p.m. Expanding Beyond the Farmers’ Market Stall

3:00 p.m. Discussion – Wrap-Up

3:30 p.m. Adjourn

The workshop will be held at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College Enka Campus, 1459 Sand Hill Road in Candler, NC. The cost of participation is only $10 per person, and all participants will receive a complete copy of the curriculum and reference manual. Advance registration is not required, but we would sure appreciate it if you would drop an email to let us know you are coming so that we have plenty of materials on hand (if we run short, everyone who emailed us in advance will be assured of receiving a copy of the reference manual). You can either notify us by responding to this email, or by contacting Jim Matheson at

Planning the Future of Your Farm

NC Cooperative Extension is partnering with the NC Farm Transition Network to offer a collaborative educational and outreach workshop to develop tools and resources that guide farm operators, landowners and their families toward the important decisions they must make to keep their land in farm or forest production.

Date: April 21, 2010
Time: 6:30 to 8:30 pm (Light refreshments will be served)
Location: James W. Warren Citizens Center, 115 W. Main St., Lincolnton, NC

RSVP at 704-736-8452

Friday, March 19, 2010

Gaston County Cattlemen's Assoc. Organizational Meeting

Are you interested in a cattleman's association? If YES, please come to a meeting to discuss the possibility of forming a Gaston County Cattlemen's Association!

DATE: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 7:00 PM

LOCATION: Gaston County Citizens Resource Center
1303 Dallas-Cherryville Highway
Dallas, NC 28034

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Dean Crocker at 704-435-2801

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Social Media 101 for Farmers

What do we mean by social media? Examples are: Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and
Are you on FaceBook? Twitter?? YouTube???
Do you want to build a website for your farm, ag-related business, or farmers’ market?
Would you like to be more connected to a growing community-based food system?
Do you want to educate people about agriculture and at the same time recruit new customers?

These are common questions that we as direct market farmers face nowadays. Social networking through the Internet has become a part of our life be it a student, a professional or a housewife. Then why not for farmers as well!!!

In an effort to address this growing need, the Gaston County Cooperative Extension will be offering a hands-on workshop entitled Social Media 101 for Farmers as part of its Ten Acre Tuesdays Sustainable Ag series on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Gaston County Administration Bldg Computer Lab on 128 W. Main Avenue in Gastonia.

Participants will learn how to set up their own blog site, FaceBook and Twitter pages. Participants will also learn tips and tools on how to best use these social media sites to connect with potential customers as well as networking with their peers.

Registration is limited to 15 participants. To register contact the Gaston Cooperative Extension Center at 704-922-2112. Deadline for registration is April 9, 2010.

Workshop Agenda

12:30 pm to 1 pm: Registration

1 pm to 1:30 pm : Blogging
· Set up a blog site using
· Look at examples of how farmers are using blogs to tell their story and communicate with customers
· Examples of farm blogs

1:30 pm to 2:30 pm: Facebook
· Set up a business Facebook page
· Examples of farms and ag-related businesses on Facebook

2:30 pm to 2:45 pm: Break

2:45 pm to 3 pm: YouTube
· Examples of how farmers are using YouTube

3 pm to 4 pm: Twitter
· Set up a Twitter page
· Learn Twitter etiquette and terminology
· Examples of farms and ag-related businesses/organizations on Twitter

4 pm to 4:30 pm: Wrap up/Questions and Evaluations

Friday, March 5, 2010

$5 Million in Funding for Farmers Market Promotion Program

This year FMPP will emphasize three priorities during the 2010 grant period: (1) focus on the recruitment and retention of new farmers to participate at farmers markets and other direct-to-consumer farm marketing outlets; (2) develop professional expertise for farmers market managers, farmers/vendors, boards and organizations to effectively manage and/or operate farmers markets and other direct marketing enterprises; and (3) improve food access in local, rural and underserved communities to promote the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms.

Since AMS began tracking farmers markets in 1994, the number has grown by nearly 4,000 nationwide. Currently, nearly 5,274 farmers markets operate nationwide, up from 4,685 in 2008, an increase of 13 percent. AMS maintains a comprehensive list of farmers markets, posted online at

AMS also has developed two new tools for prospective grant applicants. The FMPP Pre-Application Guide for 2010 helps readers assess their readiness for the grant application and implementation process. AMS has also captured its on-site FMPP grant-writing training in a detailed PowerPoint presentation that provides step-by-step instructions on how to fill out the application forms. You can access both tools on the FMPP website at

More information on the "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" initiative is available at

Information on how to apply for a grant will be published in the Mar. 1, 2010, issue of the Federal Register and posted on the AMS website at Applications and proposals must be postmarked no later than the close of business on April 15, 2010. Applications received after April 15, 2010, will not be considered.

For more information, contact Carmen Humphrey, Program Manager, Farmers Market Promotion Program, AMS, 1800 M Street, N.W., Room 3012-South Tower, Washington, D.C. 20036; phone (202) 694-4000; fax (202) 694-5949.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Farmers' Market Training Event - Fletcher

A Successful Season: A Training Opportunity for Farmers Market Managers & Vendors

Date: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Time: 9:45 am - 3:00 pm
Location: Virginia Boone Building, WNC Ag Center, Fletcher, NC
Cost: $25, covers food and materials
Registration Deadline: April 13, 2010

Who should attend?:
Vendors and managers of existing community and municipal farmers markets
Growers interested in participation in one or more area farmers markets
Community leaders considering starting a farmers market

What you will learn:

Tips on how to merchandise your stall to sell more product
Tips on providing excellent customer service
Ideas on driving more traffic to your farmers market
Ways to maintain good relationships among vendors and managers
Updates on regulations that affect vendors and managers

To view the complete agenda: Successful Season Agenda
To register: Successful Season Registration

For more information, contact: Annette Dunlap,, 919.733.7887 ext. 257

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Farm Bureau Food Safety Discussions

The NC Farm Bureau Specialty Crops Director, Debbie Hamrick, is in the process of traveling all around NC collecting comments from farmers about the impacts of fresh produce safety regulations on small and medium size farms in NC. Her goal is to submit your concerns, comments, suggestions and experise directly to the folks writing the legislation.

Debbie Hamrick will be presenting information about proposed federal regulations and listening to your concerns about what will and will not work for you. Your comments will be passed on to FDA and USDA now, before regulations are written.If you would like to submit your comments directly to the Food and Drug Administration, here is your opportunity. This will impact all producers and you should let your thoughts be heard!

Please join us at either of the following meetings for a review and discussion of these issues. All meetings are on Tuesday, March 16, 2010.

7:30am – Complimentary Breakfast Noon – Complimentary Lunch
Cleveland County Farm Bureau McDowell County Farm Bureau
1503 West Dixon Blvd. (Hwy 74 Bypass) 21 Buncombe Street
Shelby, NC 28152 Marion, NC 28752
704-482-2436 828-652-4525

6:30pm – Complimentary Supper
Rutherford County Farm Bureau
153 Reservation Drive
Spindale, NC 28160

Who should attend? Fruit and vegetable producers. Small producers with production of less than 100 acres are especially welcome. Wholesale growers, retail / farm stand growers, growers with CSAs or who sell at farmers markets are encouraged to attend. While we realize this topic may be of interest to non-producers, this meeting is for producers only.

Agritourism Webinar Series

The first session of the East Coast Agritourism Webinar Series is starting Tuesday, March 2 and its free!

NC State University’s Tourism Extension has teamed with colleagues from Rutgers University to offer a free webinar series on agritourism. The East Coast Agritourism Webinar Series will include five different sessions designed to provide an overview of important information related to agritourism.

Topics include:

Introduction to Agritourism (March 2, 2010)
Is Agritourism Right for You? (March 9, 2010)
Marketing Basics (March 16, 2010)
Creating the Customer Experience (March 30, 2010)
Social Media 101 (April 6, 2010)

This free webinar series begins in March with a different topic offered each Tuesday from March 2-April 6 at two convenient times, noon-1pm and 7-8pm.

Visit for additional information and for instructions on how to participate.

Also, feel free to contact Dr. Samantha Rich ( or Dr. Stacy Tomas ( for additional information or if you have any questions.

*This webinar series is free, open to anyone, and does not require pre-registration or a microphone.*