Small Farms Leadership Program Set for Oct. 12-13 in Eastern N.C.

By Karen Green / 10/03/2022

Mark Blevins, Ed.D., shares information with a reporter at New Ground Farms recently. New Ground Farms is the farm of Millard and Connie Locklear, 2022 Small Farmers of the Year.

PLYMOUTH, N.C. (Oct. 3, 2022) – The Small Farms 360 Leadership Initiative will hold its third educational program Oct. 12 and 13 at the Vernon James Extension and Research Center.

The initiative, developed and launched early this year by Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, aims to help small farmers improve their operations and increase their profits through education, hands-on demonstrations, and network building with other farmers and agriculture experts. It targets farmers in underserved counties, particularly farmers of color and those in eastern North Carolina.

“The Small Farms 360 Leadership program takes great information on agricultural production, research, and business from the best faculty and partners we have and gets it into the hands of small and minority growers across the state,” said Mark Blevins, assistant administrator for agricultural and natural resources for Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T. “I want to see farms thrive and grow as a result of this experience, and I want to see growers connecting with and relying on each other because of what they have been through together and the challenges they have overcome collectively.”

The program kicked off in February with a two-day learning module focused on farm management, marketing, finances and loans, and protecting against land loss. A second module, held in June, covered small farm sustainability, including post-harvest best practices and wholesale readiness, and introduced farmers to resources such as the Farmers of Color Network and U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Administration.

Module 3 will focus on challenges and opportunities for agriculture enterprises, the impact of hoop houses and high tunnels on yields and profits, facts about establishing a joint enterprise, agritourism, and more. Among the highlights of the two-day educational experience will be visits to local agritourism destinations, including Cashie River Treehouse Village in Windsor and Twisted Willow Farms in Elizabeth City.

The program consists of four modules in total and attendees register for and attend all four modules. The fourth module will take place in winter 2023. The program is free to small farmers. To learn more, visit the Small Farms Leadership 360 web page.

Media Contact Information: ksgreen3@ncat.edu

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