NC small farms are recognized next week

First Posted: 3/21/2012

Agriculture is the leading industry in Robeson County. When farming is mentioned, most county residents think of large-scale contract hog or poultry farms, or large row crop farms. However, the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s 2007 Census of Agriculture shows that small-scale farms make up 87 percent of all farms nationwide and 85 percent in North Carolina. Many of these farms consist of small-scale agriculture, including fruit and vegetable production, small-scale livestock production, forestry production, and aquaculture.

There are approximately 41,000 small-scale farmers statewide, and in honor of their accomplishments, pioneering work, and technological advancements, our state recognizes next week as North Carolina Small Farms Week. The theme for the 26th annual North Carolina Small Farms Week, is “Small Farms: It’s a growing business — Locally Grown, Good for All.” Events will be held at various sites throughout the state.

The highlight of the week is the annual small farmers recognition luncheon, which is held Wednesday on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. During the luncheon, the Gilmer L. and Clara Y. Dudley North Carolina Small Farmer of the Year award will be presented to a deserving small farmer or small farm family. Since 2001, there have been five Small Farmers of the Year from southeastern North Carolina, including two from Robeson County — the late Burnice Blanks, of the Moss Neck Community, and Ellery and Amy Locklear, of Locklear Farms.

To highlight Small Farms Week, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, will host a spring alternative tour on March 29. The tour will depart from the O.P. Owens Agriculture Center, on N.C. 72 West at 1 p.m. and is scheduled to return around 5:30 p.m. This informative and educational tour will visit three successful small farm operations. Growers will have the opportunity to visit a number of alternative systems such as rapeseed production, viticulture production, and natural beef production. Refreshments will be provided.

Anyone interested should register by Tuesday, so that transportation can be arranged.

Small farms play a vital role in supporting the competitiveness and sustainability of U.S. 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.

For more information or to register, contact Nelson Brownlee at 910-671-3276, or by e-mail at [email protected]