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.

EDEN - http://eden.lsu.edu/Pages/default.aspx
eXtension - https://www.extension.org/disasters

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 jim@bisoncentral.com.

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 Blogger.com.
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 Blogger.com
· 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 www.ams.udsa.gov/farmersmarkets.

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 http://www.ams.usda.gov/FMPP.

More information on the "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" initiative is available at http://www.usda.gov/KnowYourFarmer.

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 http://www.ams.usda.gov/FMPP. 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, annette.dunlap@ncagr.gov, 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 http://www.ncsu.edu/tourismextension/WebinarSeries.html for additional information and for instructions on how to participate.

Also, feel free to contact Dr. Samantha Rich (samantha_rich@ncsu.edu) or Dr. Stacy Tomas (stacy_tomas@ncsu.edu) 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.*