A&T Celebrates Small Farms Week, Taps Two N.C. Small Farmers of the Year

03/29/2024 College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

N.C. Cooperative Extension named Patrick Brown of Brown Family Farms in Warren County and James Hartman of Secret Garden Bees in Cumberland County as Small Farmers of the Year, part of the 38th annual Small Farms Week, held March 24-30 through N.C. A&T Extension. From left are Chancellor Harold L. Martin, Sr.; Patrick Brown, with wife Aleah Brown and son Clayton Brown; James Hartman; College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Interim Dean Shirley Hymon-Parker and N.C. A&T Extension Administrator M. Ray McKinnie, who made the presentation.

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (March 29, 2024) – Two North Carolina farmers were named Small Farmers of the Year this week as North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s Cooperative Extension division celebrated Small Farms Week, N.C. Extension’s annual tribute to small-scale growers.

Logo reading "Small Farms Week: New Paths to Profits, March 24-230, 2024Farmers and ranchers from across the state came to N.C. A&T’s campus Tuesday and Wednesday to attend workshops, farm tours and demonstrations centered around this year’s theme, “New Paths to Profits.”  Other events were held around the state Monday, Thursday and Friday.

For the first time in its 38-year history, the North Carolina Small Farmer of the Year Award was presented to two people: one a fourth-generation farmer in Warren County growing hemp and vegetables, the other a veteran who runs a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) in Cumberland County that produces premium raw honey.  

The awards were presented at N.C. A&T Cooperative Extension’s annual luncheon.

“Each of these dynamic small farms was formed through a strict business lens,” said M. Ray McKinnie, Ph.D., College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences associate dean and Extension administrator. “These farmers have entered innovative partnerships, broadened their resources and become economic boosts for others. They’ve worked hard for justice to benefit farmers and engaged with their communities to better their neighborhoods. And they both did it extremely well.”

Patrick Brown’s farm has been in his family since 1865. Over the generations, Brown Family Farms, in southeastern Warren County, has focused on growing timber, raising livestock, cultivating vegetables, grain and tobacco, and most recently, producing hemp extracts and fiber.

Jim Hartman turned his land near Linden in Cumberland County into a honeybee-keeping operation as a way to manage the post-traumatic stress syndrome that he was experiencing after 10 years in the Army as an explosive ordnance disposal officer, including two tours in Iraq. Hartman and his wife, Christi, started with three hives and today his Secret Garden Bees includes more than 30 hives and sells raw honey to The Fresh Market grocery store and other retailers, wholesalers and people who simply enjoy the taste of all-natural raw honey.

Both farmers were honored as 2024 Small Farmers of the Year on March 27 as part of Small Farms Week, the annual tribute to small-scale agriculture presented by Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T. The weeklong annual celebration was launched by Extension in 1985 to connect with small-scale farmers—including minority farmers and those in limited-resource communities— to 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.

For more information about Small Farms Week, visit the Small Farms Week page.

Media Contact Information: llbernhardt@ncat.edu

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