Thursday, December 8, 2011

Foothills Fresh Growers School

N.C. Cooperative Extension Service
Catawba County Agricultural Resources Center
1175 South Brady Avenue, Newton, NC
February 24, 2012


8:00 a.m. Registration and Refreshments (Biscuits, Juice, Coffee)

8:30 a.m. Welcome—Jeff Carpenter

8:35 a.m. Update on the Foothills Fresh Program—Kevin Starr

8:45 a.m. Tapping into the Charlotte Market—Christy Shi

9:30 a.m. Managing Stink Bugs and Other Interesting Insect Pests of Vegetables—Jim Walgenbach

10:15 a.m. Break

10:30 a.m. Pollinator Conservation—Nancy Lee Adamson

11:15 a.m. Bringing New Farmers to the Table / Perspectives from a
New Small Farm—Joanna Lelekacs

12:00 noon Adjourn

Registration: There is no charge to attend the school. However, pre-registration is required. Call 828-465-8240 or e-mail no later than February 17. You may also register on-line at .

Social Media For Farmers Training

Gaston Citizens Resource Center in Dallas, NC
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Feb. 1st, 2012

Presenters: Social Media experts, Johanna Kramer and Grace and Cary Kanoy

Want to harness the power of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to reach new customers and grow your farm business? You won’t want to miss this all-day hands-on workshop designed especially for farmers and taught by social media experts, Johanna Kramer (@durhamfoodie) and Cary and Grace Kanoy (GeoCore Films).

You will leave this workshop with a fully-functioning Facebook and Twitter page (or upgrade your existing pages), the skills to shoot your own short farm video using your cell phone, camera, or camcorder, and the training to take better farm photos. Limited to 25 participants!

Includes lunch.

Cost: $10

Register by calling (919) 542-2402, emailing or online at

This workshop is hosted by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association in partnership with Know Your Farms, Center for Environmental Farming Systems, NC Cooperative Extension, the 10% Campaign, and Food Corps with funding from the Golden LEAF Foundation.

NC Forage & Grasslands Winter Conference Series

The North Carolina Forage and Grasslands Council (NCFGC) has announced dates for their 2012 Winter Conference Series, January 24, 25, and 26, to be held in 3 different locations across the state-Kenansville, Greensboro and Morganton.

Anyone who manages forages and/or pasture-based animal production systems will find this meeting very worthwhile. Topics include "Healthy Soils Reduce Chemical Inputs on Grazing and Cropping Systems" and "Managing Forages to Lower Production Costs" as well as a panel of local producers discussing "Dealing With High Input Costs".

See the pdf announcement for details, contacts and registration.

N.C. Meat Processor Goes Organic

Taylorsville, North Carolina- In a boon to the local and niche meat industry in North Carolina, a Taylorsville meat processing company has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to process certified organic meats. For over 30 years, Mays Meats has provided custom and inspected meat processing services to local farmers who produce and sell niche meat products in local marketing channels. Mays Meats has been a leader in supporting the growth of the local meat industry by providing high quality inspected meat processing services (e.g., slaughter, fabrication and value-added product development). Longtime Mays Meats employee, Misty Dyson, coordinated the effort for USDA National Organic Program certification. “Our customers do a great job raising animals responsibly; having the option for processing under organic certification provides them with a level of third party verification that many consumers find valuable. Mays Meats is happy to provide this service to farmers as part of an overall effort to help them better market their meat products,” Dyson says.

Local beef producer Shelly Eagan, of Cleveland County’s Proffitt Family Farms, worked closely with Mays Meats in navigating the application process for organic certification. “Misty and I started working together on this back in February 2011. I really don’t think we could have done it without working together. Our beef has been certified organic for the 3 years but we couldn’t legally market using an organic label because we had nowhere to have the animals slaughtered under organic certification. We’re thrilled to now have that option. I think there are a lot of folks out there who are actually raising animals ‘organically’ who might consider getting certified now that they can actually make those claims on their labels.”

NC Choices Coordinator, Casey McKissick, notes, “It’s exciting to see the positive outcome of farmers and processors working together toward a common goal. It’s these types of partnerships across the supply chain that are moving the local meat industry forward in North Carolina. Mays Meats is the only commercial processor in North Carolina to provide slaughter and cut and wrap services under organic certification. This will create more market opportunities for local livestock producers and product choices for local consumers.”

Niche meats are meat products marketed based on attributes such as “organic,” “local,” “pasture-raised,” “grass-fed,” “humanely raised,” and “grown without antibiotics or added hormones.” The local and niche meat industry in North Carolina has enjoyed unprecedented growth in recent years, bringing new economic opportunities for farmers, processors and other industries that support the local food economy.

A recent review of meat and poultry sales through natural foods retailers shows the “natural and organic sector” growing at a much stronger rate than conventional meat and poultry sales. For example, between 2008 and 2010, nationwide red meat sales increased 1.7 percent whereas natural and organic red meat sales increased by 15 percent (Mintel 2010).

According to the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS), there has been a steep increase in the number of farmers in North Carolina who are securing their meat handlers’ registrations—a requirement for transporting and selling packaged, inspected meat. As of November 2011, 499 farmers held a meat handler’s registration. That number is nearly four-fold increase since 2007 (NCDA 2011.

For more information on processing services at Mays Meats see or contact Misty Dyson at 828-632-7081.

Foothills Pilot Plant is Now Open for Rabbit Processing

On December 5th 2011, Foothills Pilot Plant, a small-scale poultry and rabbit processing facility located in Marion North Carolina, received permission from the NC Department of Agriculture's Food and Drug Division to begin commercially processing rabbits.

FPP can now take reservations to arrange for processing of rabbits from individual farms. Please email FPP General Manager Dr. Pal Manhiani for information about scheduling your processing days. His email address is

More information on FPP, including fees for processing services, can be found at under the FAQ section.

FPP has not yet received permission to be under inspection from USDA for processing of turkeys, chickens or other fowl. An email notification will be mailed when poultry can be scheduled for processing.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Putting Small Acreage to Work Conference

Date: January 28, 2012

Time: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Location: Gaston Citizens Resource Center, Dallas, NC

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 January 28, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 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: raising sheep for food & fiber, weed control for small acreage, field grown cut flower production, heirloom vegetable production, selling to restaurants, food preservation, pastured poultry & mobile processing units, rice production in the piedmont, building & managing a grade B goat diary, & marketing grass roots style.

Class sessions will start promptly after registration. The program will include three breakout sessions. Three to four topics will be discussed concurrently during each of these breakout sessions.

Registration Deadline:
January 23, 2012

Admission - 1st Person = $35.00
Admission - Each Additional Person = $20.00
Lunch included

To Register Go To:

For additional information on this conference, contact Gaston County Cooperative Extension at 704.922.2112.