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NC State Extension

2017 Grant Projects

2017 Grant Projects

Forsyth

Jordan Jones grew up on the family farm in Rural Hall, NC. It is his life’s goal to pass that heritage to his children and farm the land the way his great grandparents farmed. Jordan owns and operates Jones Plants and Nursery. With the grant funds he plans to add power and heat to a high tunnel to extend season production and sales.

Mike Tate, his wife Ginnie and daughter Rebecca founded Rebecca Knoll Farm in Kernersville NC. They received a grant to install 100’x100’x9′ screen enclosure using Tek-Knit 80 gram insect netting to protect organically grown blackberries from flying pests that spoil fruit and reduce the yield. There is a growing consumer demand for small fruits and berries. Using netting for pest control could be a pivotal technique for small farms and tobacco growers interested in transitioning into small fruit production.

Justin Strickland and his wife Jessica purchased Old Holler Farm, a run-down property in Rural Hall, NC in 2014. They have worked to bring the farm back to life, and  currently raise pastured beef cattle. In order to have a steady stream of income they plan to diversify by expanding their poultry operation to produce 250,000 cage free eggs annually. With the grant funds they will purchase additional fences, roosts, feeders and egg storage facilities.

Timothy Bibb, a part-time pastor in Winston-Salem, took an interest in the family garden four years ago and developed a small CSA operation. Hoping to expand his urban garden, Timothy checked with the city about vacant land directly behind his family property and learned that the land could be used for farming as long as he did not build any permanent structures. With the grant funds he plans to carve out an urban farm, diversify his crops and extend the CSA operation to families in the local community.

Greene

Melons and Bloomers is a family farm in Snow Hill, NC. In the early days the farm had been a large scale tobacco and cotton farm. Today they grow approximately 4oo acres of row crops and 30-40 acres of produce. But, with a growing base of local customers wanting fresh produce, they envision expanding the produce crops to 150 acres. The Jones family received a grant to build a facility to pack and store produce and expand their wholesale business.

Harnett

David Gardner is a third generation tobacco farmer from Angier NC. In 1983 he added sweet potatoes and other rotational crops. After 33 years of farming sweet potatoes he has gained experience and knowledge including the finer points of careful harvesting to make sure the tubers aren’t damaged and unmarketable. With the grant award he plans to buy a sweet potato chain digger, which will increase the harvest yield by 10% and increase his overall profit.

Dudley Langdon, of Angier, NC will be planting his 45th tobacco crop in 2017. His farm is recognized as NC Centennial Farm. With the grant award he plans to update the operation and increase profits by replacing granular fertilizer with liquid fertilizer. This new strategy should result in less moisture loss, lower heat damage and reduce disease.

The Harnett County Livestock Association received a grant to purchase portable Livestock Handling Equipment that will be available to producers with small cattle operations. The equipment provides safe restraint for animals during vaccination, castration etc., and also allow a much greater degree of safety for workers.

Johnston

Brandon Batten of Four Oaks, NC is the sixth generation to work on the 600 acre family farm. They grow tobacco, wheat, soybeans, corn, hay and beef cattle. The grant funds will be used to purchase an unmanned aerial system for advanced crop and field scouting to better visualize disease pressure, pest pressure and fertility in soils.

James (Hunter) Langdon of Benson, NC grew up on a small family farm and knew from a young age that farming was the career he wanted to pursue. He started farming for himself in 2010 while pursuing a degree in agriculture science at NC State University. Tobacco had always financially carried the farm operation, but this past year that flipped and he realized that he needed to rely less on the sales of flue cured tobacco and increase profitability with other row crops and livestock. To make the operation more efficient and reduce input costs, he will use the grant funds to purchase a large fertilizer tank and buy fertilizer in bulk.

Jason Barbour of Four Oaks, NC has a degree in Agri-business and is a 4th generation tobacco farmer. Like many other farms Barbour grows sweet potatoes, corn, soybean, small grains and cattle, but last year he added a crop of popcorn. Popcorn is different from sweet corn. Popcorn has a hard, moisture resistant hull that surrounds a dense pocket of starch that will pop when heated. Popcorn is a whole grain, not a vegetable. Adding a crop of popcorn was a good decision, he found a distributor last year who has requested twice the amount of popcorn for 2017. With the grant funds Barbour will purchase a new popcorn cleaner.

Michelle Pace Davis of Clayton grew up on a century old family farm. Tobacco has been the staple crop, but this year Michelle took one field and turned it into a U-pick strawberry patch. With the grant award they will purchase a cooler and hand-washing station. The cooler will allow them to reduce spoilage and increase sales. In the future they plan to diversify with crops that can be profitable to the farm, grown on less land, and add a variety to the area.

Stoney Fork Farms, in Four Oaks, NC was leveled by a tornado in 2011. The farm had several mills. Grandson, Jeremy Norris would like to rebuild the farm starting with a Bin and Pallet Stringer Operation using wood from the property and selling to local farms. The grant award will be used to purchase a sawmill.

Nash

Chris Reges, grew up on the family farm in Nashville, NC. To make the farm more efficient and increase profits, Chris will use the grant funds to purchase an irrigation system and a produce shelter. Reges Plant Farm was recently accepted as part of the Goodness Grows in North Carolina initiative as a Certified Roadside Farm.

Pitt

Lissa Gutherie, from Stokes, NC is the fourth generation coming to tend the land. The three generations before her were tobacco farmers. Lissa plans to transition some of the farm to a Muscadine vineyard. She has been working with Carlos Munguia at Duplin winery and has secured a contract to join their family of growers. The grant funds will be used for structural materials and irrigation equipment.

Louis Tyson, from Ayden, NC was born and raised on a tobacco farm. He has been farming independently for 27 years. He plans on taking 30 acres out of row crop production and turning it into pasture. This will make the current cattle operation more efficient. The beef will be sold locally through a CSA. He will use the grant award for fencing, feeders, water tanks.

Andy Burlingham , an Extension agent in Pitt County office received a community grant to research the longevity and productivity of new forage varieties of grass species that perform better in heat, drought and acidic soil conditions. The forage trial will look at the adaptability, productivity, longevity and digestibility of five species of cool season perennial grasses. These strains represent the newest varieties developed for the southeastern US, and will be evaluated on seven operations across Pitt County. Resulting data and outcomes could help local hay growers produce a higher value product and expand their market.

Rockingham

Dana and Rochelle Reynolds of Madison, NC inherited 50 acres passed down from Dana’s grandparents. The grant funds will be used to construct a commercial greenhouse for propagation of heirloom vegetables and herbal medicinal plants. They are concentrating on specialty plants not typically found in local markets. The plants are available for commercial cultivation as well as for retail sales to gardeners and farmers.

Steve and Natalie Foster have been operating a small farm in Reidsville, NC since 1996. (The farm had originally been a tobacco farm owned by Steve’s grandmother.) They sell produce at the Greensboro Farmers Curb market 51 weeks a year. With the grant funds they plan to purchase a produce cooler and construct an air conditioned propagation shed, which will allow them to store and pack produce at safe temperatures, reduce spoilage and increase production.

Robert Baker grew up farming with his father and grandfather in Madison NC. Baker Farms of Ellisboro grows tobacco, soybeans and wheat. They are branching out with two new greenhouses to raise tomatoes. With the grant funds he plans to construct a facility for produce storage, grading and packing.

Sampson

Robert “Blake” Lane from Salemburg, NC still grows tobacco, but he has been diversifying his operations with tomatoes and sweet corn. He received a grant to turn a salvaged diesel engine from a burnt cotton picker into an irrigation pumping unit. With an irrigation pump mounted on the refurbished engine, he can irrigate his new vegetable crops without tying up the tractor. The pump will also increase crop yield and boost profitability.

Surry

Earnest and Cathy Wheeler of Pinnacle, NC have been growing mushrooms for nearly a decade, first for themselves and later to sale. They are familiar with many cultivation techniques and have established a growing market. With the grant funds they will build a mushroom lab, grow room and storage expansion. They sell to the public at farmers markets in Elkin and Winston-Salem and at two local restaurants.

Yadkin

Charles Wooten of East Bend, NC has transitioned from a tobacco farm to a plasticulture strawberry operation in Yadkin County. Scooterbug’s Strawberries is named after their youngest daughter whose nickname is scooter. Their goal is to work towards growing organic berries and other specialty crops. With the grant funds he plans to purchase a cooler which will reduce spoilage and increase sales.