North Carolina Celebrates the Contributions of Small-Scale Farmers With Small Farms Week, March 21-27, 2021
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Each year, the Cooperation Extension Service at N.C. A&T State University celebrates the crucial role of small farmers in North Carolina’s 91.8 billion agriculture sector with Small Farms Week. Small Farms Week was launched in 1987 by the Cooperative Extension Service at N.C. A&T State University as a way to connect with small-scale farmers – including minority farmers and those in limited-resource communities – and ensure they receive the latest research-based information on farming techniques, new tools, and technologies. It also gives the public a chance to meet their agricultural neighbors and learn about farm operations and food production. The theme for this year’s celebration is “35 Years: Resilience. Strength. Diversity.”
“Our small farmers have to be strong and resilient, even in the best of times,” said Rosalind Dale, Ed.D., Extension Administrator at N.C. A&T State University and associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES). “The last year has required extra resourcefulness because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Small Farms Week gives our farmers a needed chance to take a breath, educate themselves, and take advantage of all the resources Cooperative Extension has to offer.”
A virtual kickoff event for Small Farms Week 2021 will take place Friday, March 19, in Avery County, the location of Trosly Farm, owned by Amos and Kaci Nidiffer, the 2020 Small Farmers of the Year. Events will begin at 9 a.m. and will include a profile of agriculture in Avery County and a discussion of agricultural trends in the county featuring three local farmers. The kickoff will also recognize the Nidiffers for their 2020 Small Farmer of the Year Award.
On Monday, March 22, and Tuesday, March 23, educational events will focus on the health benefits of community gardening – including boosting your immune system during the pandemic – plant and livestock production, farm management, and winter production in high tunnels. Wednesday, March 24, will start with an educational forum on marketing and agribusiness followed by an update on small farms initiatives by staff with Cooperative Extension and the CAES.
Wednesday will also feature one of the highlights of Small Farms Week: the virtual Small Farmers’ Appreciation Program, with a keynote address by Jimmy Gentry, president of the North Carolina Grange, and the announcement of the 2021 Small Farmer of the Year.
“The Small Farmer of the Year Award puts a face on farming and introduces our communities to the people behind the farming operations they depend on,” said Dale. “These are people who work year-round without any recognition, so it is a pleasure to learn about their work and thank them for their efforts.”
Small Farms Week events will conclude Thursday, March 25, with a panel discussion among N.C. A&T State University students on career opportunities in agriculture.
There will be two local events to highlight North Carolina Small Farms Week. First, there will be a local food drive to help feed hungry people in Sampson and Duplin Counties. Donate canned goods and other non-perishable food by March 5 to be part of a statewide cooperative campaign that feeds the hungry and celebrates small farmers. Donated items should be taken to North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Sampson County Center, located at 55 Agriculture Place, Clinton, NC. Second, there will a Regional Virtual Workshop Plasticulture Equipment Rental Program for Small Farmers on March 22.