With spring on its way, Extension Master Gardeners across the state are working in full gear, helping fellow gardeners – beginners and experts, young and old – enhance their landscapes, grow their own fruits and vegetables and learn about the science behind gardening.
Wake County grower practices on his farm what he preaches as N.C. Master Gardener Volunteer Association president.
In Cabarrus County, nothing heralds spring like the Plant and Herb Festival that Master Gardeners hold each year at the Piedmont Farmers Market in Concord. More than 70 vendors and 4,000 visitors are expected at this year’s event, which takes place Saturday April 14.
When interest in community gardening began to spike a few years ago, Master Gardeners in Guilford County created a network that gives leaders of such gardens a way to connect with and learn from others while taking advantage of the wealth of gardening information available through Cooperative Extension.
N.C. State University’s North Carolina Value-Added Cost Share (NCVACS) program provided more than $100,000 in matching funds to help N.C. agricultural producers apply for and secure nearly $1.2 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants. The USDA last week announced the recipients of its Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG), eight of which are N.C. businesses that were assisted by NCVACS.
Carolina Farm Credit, based in Statesville, has given $5,000 to support the 10% Campaign, a North Carolina initiative designed to encourage consumers to spend 10 percent of their food budget on locally produced foods.
The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) will host a series of train-the-trainer workshops designed to prepare N.C. Cooperative Extension employees to better support new farmers. “Bringing New Farmers to the Table: Addressing the Supply Side of the 10% Campaign” will be held in five locations, beginning Jan. 19.
In a boon to the local and niche meat industry in North Carolina, a Taylorsville meat processing company has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to process certified organic meats.
Economic development was in the air, as Piedmont Food and Agriculture Processing Center was dedicated in October. After years of planning, the Orange County facility opened its doors, giving small food producers access to space and equipment they need to develop their small businesses.
Up to five North Carolina communities will receive support for developing incubator farms to attract new farmers, thanks to an effort by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems. Incubator farms provide aspiring farmers with a place to learn, try their hand at farming and develop the markets to make their own operations successful.