NC Celebrates Small-Scale Farmers With Small Farms Week, March 21-26
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Each year, Cooperation Extension at N.C. A&T celebrates the crucial role of small farmers in North Carolina’s 91 billion agriculture sector with Small Farms Week. Small Farms Week was launched in 1987 by Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T 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 “Changing Times, Growing Seasons.”
“Change is a constant in our world and small farmers must be able to adapt to survive and prosper,” said Mark Blevins, Ed.D., assistant Extension administrator for agriculture and natural resources. “Small Farms Week provides knowledge and tools that can help these farmers have successful growing seasons in this ever-changing environment.”
The week will begin with a kickoff event Monday, March 21 in Franklin County, the home of the 2021 Small Farmer of the Year Mike Jones, owner and operator of MAE Farm in Louisburg. Events will begin at 9 a.m. and will include a panel discussion with local farmers and a tour of MEA Farm. Live attendance at the kickoff will be limited because of COVID-19 safety protocols and events will be webcast.
Tuesday, March 22 will focus on education, offering concurrent sessions on small-scale animal production, plant production and natural resource management, and deep dives into swine and hemp production. The day will conclude with a tour of the N.C. A&T Research Farm (offered virtually), and a demonstration of drone technology.
On Wednesday, March 23 scientists from the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES) will share their expertise on the impact of climate change and COVID-19 on agriculture and rural communities. The day will include an overview of the college’s new Small Farms Resource and Innovation Center, and information about CAES research that applies to small farmers.
Wednesday will also feature one of the highlights of Small Farms Week: The Small Farmers’ Appreciation Program. The Small Farmer’s Appreciation Luncheon will begin with a keynote address by P. J. Haynie, a fifth-generation Black farmer, and his daughter, Colette Haynie. Haynie is an advocate for the policy needs of Black growers who was named a “Champion of Change” by former President Barack Obama.
The day will culminate with the announcement of the 2022 Small Farmer of the Year. Farmers and community members are encouraged to watch the program online or at one of the satellite sites.
Thursday, March 24 will feature educational sessions on marketing and agribusiness and updates on the activities of several Extension and CAES initiatives, including the Small Farms Resource and Innovation Center and the Small Farms Task Force. Farmers will also have the chance to get tips on becoming a future small farmer of the year.
Friday, March 25 will focus on students and include a virtual panel discussion and a session on career paths in agriculture and environmental sciences.
Registration, a full schedule of events, and information on how to participate virtually in Small Farms Week will be provided on the Small Farms Week 2022 website. To view the program and register for virtual courses, please click here.
There will be two local events to highlight North Carolina Small Farms Week. First, there will be a local food drive to help feed a family in Sampson County. Donate canned goods and other non-perishable food will be collected from March 1st to March16th as 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 Centers, located at 55 Agriculture Place, Clinton, NC. Second, there will be a Virtual Workshop on Developing Personal Risk Management Plans and Marketing Strategies for Small Farmers on March 21st.
For more information, or to register, please contact James Hartsfield, Extension Area Small Farm Agent, at 910-592-7161, by e-mail at James_Hartsfield@ncsu.edu, or visit our website at //sampson.ces.ncsu.edu/.