North Carolina Celebrates the Contributions of Small-Scale Farmers With Small Farms Week, March 27-31

— Written By James Hartsfield and last updated by
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Small farms play a vital role in supporting the competitiveness and sustainability of United States rural and farm economies and in protecting and enhancing its natural resource base and the environment. These numerous and diverse small-scale operations provide a nursery for the development of new enterprises and marketing systems, and a replenishment of the farming population.

There are approximately 43,000 small-scale farmers statewide, and in honor of their accomplishments, pioneering work, and technological advancements, the state of North Carolina recognizes the week of March 27th through 31st as North Carolina Small Farms Week. The theme for the 37th annual North Carolina Small Farms Week is: “Growth in a Changing Climate.”

“Change is a constant in our world and 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.

Last year, Millard and Connie Locklear of New Ground Farms in Robeson County were named the 2022 North Carolina Small Farmers of the Year. To honor the Locklears, the kickoff for the week will take place here in Robeson County on March 27, at the O.P. Owens Agricultural

Center located on 455 Caton Road, Hwy NC 72 West in Lumberton. The program will begin with registration at 9:30 a.m. Activities include a panel discussion, a complimentary lunch, and a tour of New Ground Farms.

Other Events will be held on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. The highlight of the week is the Annual Small Farmers Recognition Luncheon, which will be held on March 29. At the luncheon, the 2023 North Carolina Small Farmer of the Year will be named. Other activities in Greensboro include breakout sessions, educational forums and demonstrations on the NC A&T University Farm. There will be a local event to highlight North Carolina Small Farms Week. There will be a tour of CEFS Small Farms Unit in Goldsboro, NC on March 22, 2033 starting a 9:30 a.m. The tour will cover High Tunnel production, Black Plastic/Drip Irrigation, and Specialty Crop Production. If you are interested in attending, please call our office at (910) 296-2143 to register and for any questions. If you would be interesting in meeting at the Duplin County office and riding in our van, please indicate so when registering, Limited Seating Available.

Southeastern North Carolina has a rich history in producing North Carolina Small Farmers of the Year. There have been eight Small Farmers of the Year from Southeastern North Carolina. Past winners from Sampson and Duplin Counties include:  the late Donnie and Alease Williams of D&A Farms (2016) from Autryville and Ronald Simmons of Master Blend Family Farm (2018) from Kenansville.

RSVP is required to attend the event. You can register online or call the Extension Center at 910 592-7161.

Small Farms Week 2023