Past Grant Projects
NC AgVentures 2019 Grant Winners
- H&H Farms manages approximately 120 acres of land. They grow wheat, corn, soybeans and pasture-raised pork. They are an Animal Welfare Approved and Non-GMO Project Verified. They are selling their pork through the NC Natural Hog Growers Association to various markets in NC and VA. With the grant funds they plan to construct a meat storage and farm store from a 20 foot by 40 foot metal car shelter, and purchase freezing equipment.
- Chauncey Leggett is passionate about making a living from the farm and being a good steward of the land. With the grant funds he plans to install an irrigation system that will provide the crops with cleaner water and help them reach their goal to become GAP certified.
- Elliot and his wife Emma own and operate Fairshare Farm. They grow salad greens and niche vegetables in year-round in inexpensive, fast ROI hoop houses on 1.25 acres. They provide lettuce year-round to restaurants in Winston-Salem and Charlotte.Receiving the grant will help to fund the roll-out of the second phase of a three-year enterprise expansion. They plan to add ten more caterpillar tunnels doubling their production space.
- According to Claire Parrish of Heritage Harvest Farms, bees are experiencing an unsustainable drop in populations, causing alarm for crop farmers and local honey producers. Heritage Harvest Farm is a 7th generation restored NC Century Farm. They practice natural beekeeping methods with honey production being a key cornerstone of the farm. They are using the grant funds to purchase newly developed equipment that uses natural heat technology to disrupt the varroa mite destroyer’s & hive beetles life cycle. Bees can survive at higher temperatures than mites and beetles.
- Robert and Lindsey Poe purchased the farm in 2014. Their first venture was pasture raised chicken. They amended the soil, put up fences, built movable chicken tractors, built shelters and obtained Great Pyrenees Livestock Guardian Dogs to protect the flock. Their first customers were neighbors but the word quickly spread, and they were accepted into the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market where their customer base continues to grow. Currently, they are processing the chickens outdoors under a tent but the weather is not always ideal. With the grand funds they will build a permanent processing and packaging area.
- Bobby J. Roberts (BJ) is a fifth generation farmer. Tobacco has supported the Roberts family for many years. He has two daughters working outside the farm but they would like to come back and work with Dad on the land. To generate additional income BJ is adding hemp production. With the grant funds BJ will build a hemp decorticator to corticate green hemp in the field.
- Charles Williamson grew up farming and says he had no choice but to fall in love with it. With the grant funds Charles will purchase and install an 8 x12 CoolBot Walk-in Cooler to expand the shelf life of their produce that is still grown on the farm.
- Joe Johnson believes that hemp is taking the place of tobacco. In February 2018 Joe received his license from the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Commission and soon after he started growing clones in a converted smoke house. With the grant funds he plans to convert a 36 x 300’ greenhouse normally used for tobacco plants into three 36’ x 100’hemp greenhouses. Two of the houses would be for in-ground clone vegetation and the third house would be for hydro floats.
- The Patterson farm has been in the family for four generations. Tobacco was the main crop until 1984, when they transitioned other row crops. Charles purchased the farm from his grandfather and sells produce at two farmers markets and hopes to expand their business to local restaurants in the Pittsboro area. With the grant funds he purchased a plastic mulch layer and planter.
- The William E. Byrd Family Limited Partnership is owned by 13 members of the family. It’s a tree farm set-up to generate income from timber sales. All the members love the farm and support efforts to make it more productive while keeping it visually pleasing. With the grant funds William and his son will be creating a 10 acre silvopasture, which is an innovative way of thinning trees in existing forest land so that both grass and trees can be grown at the same time. Once the forage grass under the trees is well established, cattle will be allowed to rotationally graze the established pastures. Cattle production will be a new enterprise for the farm.
- The Cameron family came to North Carolina from Scotland and has been farming in the Barbecue Creek community for more than 200 years. With tobacco contracts being cut shorter each year, they opted to convert some tobacco land to strawberries. They planted 1.5 acres of four different varieties. They hope to establish a U-pick operation and mobile stand. With the grant funds they purchased a 7 x 12 foot refrigerator mobile trailer with generator.
- The Honeycutt family farm was established in 1932 with tobacco being the main crop. It was grown on the farm until the buyout in early 2000’s. Curt’s farm operation includes 500 acres of row crops, 100 acres of pasture land, with approximately 55 brood cows. Curt is working to expand his cattle operation with locally grown beef. With the grant funds he is building a BQA low stress cattle handling facility, a feed bin, portable creep feeder to feed the steers and a waterer to provide clean water.
- Doris and Donald Kidde dreamed of owning a farm to grow food and to raise their son. They purchased 15 acres of tobacco farm land in 1989 in the Shoe Heel district of northern Johnston County. They moved onto the farm in 1993. They are one of a handful of garlic farms in North Carolina and of a select few that grow elephant garlic which is a cross between leeks and garlic. They sell the entire crop each year but are not able to increase the amount of garlic because they need a larger facility for drying and storage. With the grant funds they built a 24×25 foot metal garlic barn on a concrete pad.
- Garret Wildflower Seed Farm, LLC has started transitioning a former tobacco farm into native wildflower and grass seed business. This includes re-purposing tobacco curing barns for seed drying and using former tobacco crop land for native seed production fields. His business is growing due to increase in customer demand, and the Seed farm operation could benefit from a more efficient system for growing, cleaning and packaging the seeds. With the grant funds Don purchased automated weighing and bagging equipment.
- Numerous farm families have diversified their farming operations by constructing poultry houses in hopes of providing a steady source of income. As a result, poultry growers are in need of assistance in disposing of waste in a timely and environmentally friendly manner. Gregory Rouse is a fifth generation farmer. Throughout his farming career Gregory operated applicators for waste, lime and fertilizer and he understand the importance of making sure spreading patterns are correct as well as applying the appropriate rate per acre. With the grant funds, Gregory purchased a spreader to distribute poultry and animal waste.
- After graduation from NC State, Kelvin returned to the farm to work alongside of his father. At the time they grew tobacco and wheat. But, as time passed Kelvin began to see the need to diversify. In the mid 80’s Kelvin built a greenhouse to grow vegetable transplants for the hardware store in Rockymount. That project grew into the Bass Plant Farm, a retail garden center on the farm that operates year round. They transitioned to an organic operation in 2012. With the grant funds they want to construct a cold storage facility that will enable them to further diversify and fill the market demand for locally grown organic produce.
- Ben Byrd grows hand propagated pecan trees. He is one of two nurseries in the world to use the hot calousing method for pecan propagation. It involves heated beds to force the graft union to heal. The process is time consuming and labor intensive. In his current 20 x 48 greenhouse he can produce about 5000 trees per season. With the grant funds Ben will expand the greenhouse which will allow him to graft sooner and pot trees individually and expand his operation.
- The McDaniel family has been farming since the mid 1700’s when they were granted a parcel of land from the King of England. On that same land, Peyton, his brother Billy and Cousin Phillip formed Hickory Meadows Organics in 2012. Four years ago, Hickory Meadows Organics started working on a project with NCSU and RAFI-USA doing on-farm research to help identify varieties of soybeans and corn that not only worked well in the Southeast but also performed well in organic conditions. This led to the release of three new non-GMO varieties of soybeans and a famer bred double-cross corn variety by NCSU. With the grant funds Hickory Meadows Organics will purchase a seed cleaner to produce these lines of corn and soybean seed for other farmers in the Southeast.
- Stesha and her husband Jeremy purchased 17.5 acres ten years ago and began planting the forests with long-term crops such as ginseng, ramps and other specialty plants. They planted the field with a variety of fruit and nut trees. But they have reached a point where they want to focus more extensively on mushrooms as they have found them to be one of their best sellers. With the grant funds they purchased two Weston 28 dehydration units and materials to construct a Coolbot cooler.
- Steve and Terri operate a small blueberry farm. In 2018 they participated in the Kitchen Connects GSO program to begin producing value-added products using fruits and vegetables raised on their farm. The products include jams, jellies, marmalades, reserves, pepper relish, pickled asparagus and salsa. But they have had a lot of customer interest in blackberry jam, and will use the grant funds to build the infrastructure needed to increase the number blackberry plants on the farm.
- The Steward Farm has been in production for ninety years and the newest member, currently 2.5 years old is just as excited about the cows as the rest of the family. From 1970 until 2000 David’s father raised tobacco along with wheat, oats, corn and hay. Each child was gifted a cow when they were born. When they were old enough the children took over the responsibility of caring for their cow including helping to raise the hay they needed for food. With his grant funds David will erect a hay storage facility. With the installation of this shelter the hay savings could lead to a surplus, and he could market the extra hay. Reducing or eliminating food contamination is the primary objective.
- Krystal Tyndall says she married into the farming lifestyle. She and her husband operate an 800 acre family farm. The farm originally produced tobacco, cotton and a few small grains but after they took over the farm operation they incorporated other crops such as sweet potatoes, squash, watermelons, peppers, corn, wheat, soybeans and they are contract growers for Smithfield Foods. Krystal requested a grant to purchase an old mobile packing line that she found. She will use the funds for repairs and modifications. The line will be set-up their tobacco barn shelter.
- April married into a farming family, and after the birth of their son she decided to stay home and work on the farm. The farm had been a tobacco farm for generations, but two years ago, they saw that tobacco was rapidly declining, and they added strawberries and then expanded to include vegetables and hemp. They sell to the public on the roadside certified farm stand. With the grant award they will purchase irrigation equipment.
- The Westmorland family purchased 50 acres 14 years ago and built a cattle operation. They were selling them at market, but after their son completed an FFA project on “Growing and marketing beef cattle” they worked to obtain the NC Meat Handlers Certification and the USDA Grass Fed certification. Five years ago they diversified the operation to include sheep. With the grant award they will build a lambing barn and fence in a pasture for rotational grazing.
- This is Kyle Montgomery’s fourth official year of farming on land that his great-grandfather purchased for tobacco production over a century ago. Like many in his generation he maintained a large vegetable garden and kept chickens, cows, mules and horses but made his living from tobacco production. In the 1990’s family members moved off the land which was leased until the 2015 when Kyle began his revitalization project. With the grant funds Kyle will build a 30 x 50 nursery with energy-efficient features, which will allow him to grow healthier seedlings and maintain an emphasis on sustainable production methods.
- The Tart farm has been around for many generations. John Tart III inherited the Pecan grove which sits on 100 acres and is one of the largest in North Carolina. With the grant funds John plans to build a barn to sort, process and store pecans and pecan products. The new sealed, concrete flooring will enable John to meet or exceed safe food standards, and the facility will also be used to process honey.
- Tobacco was the backbone of the Britt farm for more than 85 years. In 1993 they took the settlement offer but continue to grow tobacco seedling plants in the greenhouse for other farmers. That same year they planted pecan trees and started the Carolina Nut Cracker operation. With the NC AgVentures grant they plan to purchase equipment and made modification to a tobacco barn to house a pellet machine and hammer mill so that they can grind the pecan hulls and make pellets out of the shells that can be used for heating or grilling.
- As a ninth generation farmer, sustainability is very important to the Scott Brothers. The family relies on tobacco production but felt it was vital to find a partner crop that will sustain the future. They planted the first crop of sweet potatoes in 2016, the year that Frank Scott graduated from NC State. With his academic work and experience he looks for ways to make the farm more efficient and push the production yield. With the grant funds he plans to purchase a vine shredder. Shredding the sweet potato vines before harvest forces the potato skins to tighten making them easier to flip when harvesting and reduces losses from packing and sorting.
- Sullivan Farms is a family owned business that has been growing tobacco for over 30 years. They currently produce tobacco, sweet potatoes, cotton, soybeans, corn, wheat and beef cattle. In 2018 they earned their meat handlers’ license and began to sell retail cuts of beef at the local farmers market. With the grant funds they will purchase two glass fronted display freezers and expand their marketing with t-shirts and brochures.
- Tim was raised on a 3rd generation tobacco farm. Throughout high school and college he worked at the Raleigh Road Garden Center. After graduation, the opportunity arose for Tim to purchase the business in 2006. During the past 13 years he has transformed the business from solely plant sales to an agritourism establishment with a selection of livestock on the premises. The store offers local honey, house plants, trees, shrubs and seasonal décor. With the grant funds he constructed a picnic style shelter on the back of the property for instructional classes. They plan to offer hands on classes such as container gardening, bee keeping and wreath making.
- Roberts great-grandfather, grandfather, and father all grew tobacco but after the buyout the land was converted to pasture for cattle and hay operations. They currently run close to 40 head of registered Anus cattle. With the grant funds he plans to modify existing cattle facilities to better supply beef cattle to various market opportunities. They will purchase a 4.5 ton feed bin so he buy feed in bulk, and to pour a concrete pad for concrete feeders. They also plan to add automatic frost-free waterers in several parts of the pastures to help rotational and strip grazing.
- Cain farm is a century farm that grew tobacco in the past when Anne Cain was a child. Anne took over the farm in 1997 when her mother became ill. She began researching farm options, and eventually became the 9th licensed goat dairy in the state in 2003, making cheese. Her Chevre cheese has been well received at farmers markets, wineries and local customers. With the grant funds she plans to develop an agritourism business by opening the farm to visitors for goat watching, children’s animal and nature education, bird watching, sky watching, goat therapy, picnicking and foraging.
Pitt County Community Grant
(Leigh Guth, Pitt County Extension Director)
The Leroy James Farmers Market is operated by Pitt County Government. In the past four years, it has experienced a renewal with upgrades to the building including an expansion funded through county government and a local foundation grants. During the 2017 market season 826 vendors participated. The market accepts SNAP/EBT and many vendors accept WIC vouchers.
The manager and vendors are seeing more opportunities to expand into a market box subscription service for customers. They are working on an electronic payment and computer capacity to enable online orders and payments. With the grant funds they purchased coolers to hold the market boxes which are assembled from products from multiple market vendors.
Pitt, Wilson and Johnston Counties Community Grant
Agents Andy Burlingham, Jessica Anderson and Dan Wells
The Got to Be NC Livestock Producer Marketing project is designed to be a new marketing outlet for show animals born and raised in North Carolina. Right now young people searching for a quality animal to raise for exhibition, must call and visit each breeder to see what they have to offer. An auction setting gives young people and breeders a place to meet. The project would include special auction sales for heifers, lambs and goats. The grant funds will be used for promotion, advertising and other additional costs.
Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes and Yadkin County Community Grant
Agent Tim Hambrick
Agriculture in this seven county region has been deeply depended on tobacco dollars for many years. As tobacco declines many growers move to grain yet they are often not prepared for all that grain demands. The short-term goal for this project is purchase a small corn planter to utilize for tests and demonstrations in the seven counties. They plan to outfit the planter to allow Agents to demonstrate latest technologies that can positively impact yield. The long-term goal is to develop and area specific database practices that positively affect yield in both corn and soybean production.
2018 Grant Winners
Rooks King Wells from Rose Hill grows 40 acres of organic produce. He will use his grant funds to purchase an agricultural flame weeder.
George Jenkins is a producer from Tarboro. He plans to purchase plasticulture equipment with his grant funds. He farms over 1000 acres and some of his crops are GAP and Organic Certified. Plasticulture will keep produce cleaner in the field and cut down on weeds so less of the organic chemical applications will be necessary
Justin Strickland from Rural Hall will use the grant funds to expand his beef production sales using e-commerce.
Natalie Sevin from Winston-Salem is a small scale specialty producer that sells vegetables and herbs at two farmers markets in Winston Salem. She will use the grant funds to erect a innovative high tensile slanted fence to discourage the deer.
Paul Johnson from Bunnlevel will use the grant to upgrade old poultry houses to produce a top quality bird in a safe environment.
Charles Tart from Dunn will use the award to purchase a new pea/bean Sheller that will be used for their crops and customers who bring in unshelled beans.
David Pflugfelder from Lillington raises poultry and pork. With the grant funds he will purchase equipment to expand his pastured raised hogs operation.
Rondal McLamb from Dunn produces and processes grain fed cattle and hogs. He will use the grant funds for a dual chamber high volume vacuum.
Joshua and April Phillips from Kenly will use the grant funds to build an animal barn and expand their livestock for their agritourism business on Sonlight Farms.
Cameron Ennis from Garner will purchase a flatbed truck for hauling watermelons and small grains to market.
William Byrd from Smithfield will purchase equipment to expand his cattle and hay production.
Timmy and Roxie Creech from Kenly plan to purchase irrigation equipment to expand their vegetable crop production.
Richard Barrow from Clayton plans to expand his organic vegetable production and will use the grant funds to purchase a vacuum planter and drip irrigation.
Ricky and Scarlett Joyner are a father daughter team from Mt Olive. They plan to turn an old tobacco greenhouse into a microgreens operation.
Jason Bunting from Oak City received a hemp license, and will use the grant award to convert poultry houses into an indoor year-round hemp production facility.
Stephen Lilley from Williamston will use the grant award to purchase a pull-type spreader to apply “gin trash” on their field to improve yields.
Brenda Sutton and her husband Rex Inman from Reidsville grow specialty mushrooms. They plan to use their grant funds to develop the Fogwood Mushroom Trial through 20 acres of woodland.
Bobby Coltrane from Reidsville plans to expand his production of Day Neutral Strawberries that will provide winter season strawberries on Thanksgiving, Chirstmas and Valentines day.
Jeems Farm in Pinnacle has been in the family for over 100 years and was tobacco land until 1995, when they transitioned to tomatoes. With the grant funds Michelle Masten McKinney will add a processing facility and dehydrator to make tomato chips from over production and tomato seconds.
RomaReady is a new farm on old tobacco land in Pilot Mountain that produces fresh chemical free vegetables for local restaurants. Augusto and Jamie Renzi will use the grant funds to scale up their pilot production of Kalettes, a new vegetable that is a cross between Kale and Brussel sprouts.
Emily Odom and her husband from Goldsboro operate an agritourism farm that produces strawberries in the spring, sunflowers and a CSA in the summer and a corn maze in the fall. With the grant funds they plan to build a better packing facility with a walk in cooler.
The Sanderson farm in Four Oaks encompasses 950 acres of cropland. Over the last three years the farm has gone from having no issues with feral wild hogs to having whole field destroyed overnight. With the grant funds Matthew Sanderson will purchase a Boarbuster Trapping System to help his farm and others in surrounding counties.
Planters Produce (Walker Shelton and Thomas Webb) from Stantonsburg grew up working on their family’s tobacco farm. In 2014 they started growing cucumbers and in 2016 they added peppers. The grant funds will be used to purchase and set-up a two hundred foot greenhouse that will used for raising quality pepper transplants.
Chad and Brenda Blake from North Wilkesboro will use the grant to convert three tobacco greenhouses for hanging baskets and bedding plants.
NC AgVentures 2017 Grant Winners
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
NC AgVentures 2016 Grant Projects
- Master Blend Family Farm, in Kenansville offers free range, all natural swine, and fresh produce. The pigs are born, raised and topped out on the farm. The family takes pride in saying, “From our table to your table.” With the grant award, they plan to purchase a freezer delivery truck to expand their market area for shipping whole hogs.
- Harmony Ridge Farms in Tobaccoville, has a diverse farm operation that includes produce, poultry, Peking ducks and hogs. Kevin Oliver will use the grant funds to expand the duck brooding operation and make the process more efficient.
- Michelle Tingine, of Snow Hill wants to offer her customers a little something extra when they visit the family farm produce stand. With her grant funds she plans to add some kid friendly recreational activities and sweet treats grown on the farm. Creekside Fresh Pickings is located off Contentnea Creek.
- The Lewis family, of Walstonburg represents the best of the past and the future. The Lewis family will use their grant funds to establish the Growing Minds Educational Barn next to the Lewis Creek Market. The rustic barn will have hands-on exhibits where family shoppers can learn about farm life and nutrition. The Lewis Creek Market is located at the intersection of Hwy 264 Alt. and Lewis Store Road.
- Porter Farm in Snow Hill gets many requests from schools and other groups interested in visiting the farm and learning more about farm life. With the grant award they plan to expand their roadside stand with fun recreational activities and increase their acreage of strawberries and pumpkins.
- George and Donna Smith of Gibsonville are sixth generation farmers. 2016 marks the 83rd year the family is participating in the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market. They are using their grant funds to purchase plastic mulch laying equipment to become more efficient and increase vegetable production while conserving water.
- Hickory Creek Farm in Greensboro is a NC Certified Century Farm Family. Last year, Kevin Gray planted old tobacco fields with Christmas trees for a future choose-and-cut operation. He plans to use the grant funds to build a greenhouse for growing poinsettias. He hopes that one day his farm will be a one-stop location for NC grown farm products for the holiday season.
- Dean and Rhonda Ingram of High Point are proud to own a NC Century Farm. Their strawberry operation has been ongoing for nearly 40 years. With the grant funds they plan to add blackberries, providing their customers with a summer fruit option. The Ingram’s produce can found at Piedmont Triad Farmer’s Market and Peach Tree Farmer’s Market.
- Blake Thompson, of Smithfield will use the grant funds to raise pastured pork. This niche market has grown significantly in the past few years and will provide a new agriculture enterprise on the family farm. Blake will sell the pork through a local co-op.
- Shepard Barbour of Clayton will use the grant funds to diversify the family farm operation by incorporating a turf grass/sod business. Six acres of Bermuda sod are planted; Shepard intends to plant another 10-15 acres this spring. The sod operation is located near the old Cleveland School.
- Howard Kostelecky, of Kenly has been experimenting with small scale aquaponics systems for raising fish and vegetables. He will be using the grant funds to build a larger greenhouse and expand the aquaponics operation.
- Wayne Worley, of Princeton received a small grant to add a U-pick strawberry field. Worley’s new field is located off of HWY 70 near Princeton.
- Susan Weaver Ford, of Kenly is a third generation tobacco farmer. When the quota system was eliminated Susan diversified by adding a crop of peas. With the grant award she plans to expand her farm crops to include string beans and butter beans.
- The Cattlemen’s Association of Johnston County received a small community grant to purchase portable cattle handling equipment that can be rented and transported to farms with small herds. The equipment allows the farmer to restrain and safely provide proper care such ear tagging, vaccinating and de-worming. The Johnston County Cattlemen’s Association along with Cooperative Extension and County Government will manage the day-to-day oversight of the program.
- Lenoir County Cooperative Extension received a small community grant to purchase portable cattle handling equipment that can be rented and transported to farms with small herds. The equipment allows the farmer to restrain and safely provide proper care such ear tagging, vaccinating and de-worming. Lenoir County Extension staff, under the advisement of the Lenoir County Livestock Development Association and the Pitt/Greene Cattlemen’s Association will manage the day-to-day oversight of the program.
- Josh Roberson, of Bethel began to diversify away from tobacco several years ago when they opened Carolina Country Fresh, retail farm market. They turned one tobacco field into a 12 acre corn maze, and with the grant funds they plan to expand their produce production. Country Fresh Market is located at Exit 502 off of Hwy 64.
- Thomas Pierce from Jamesville grows strawberries, tomatoes, collards, cabbage, melons, corn and potatoes. He operates a road side produce stand from mid-April to the end of November. With the grant funds he will purchase a walk-in vegetable cooler and ice machine. J and J Farms produce stand is located off of Hwy 64 E. and Pierce Lane.
- Brenda Sutton and husband Rex Inman from Reidsville have been cultivating a mushroom growing enterprise since 2004. They have worked diligently to educate the public about mushrooms and build a local market for Shiitake mushrooms. With the grant funds they plan to build a Geodesic shaped dome with a climate controlled environment that will enable them to grow mushrooms year round.
- Smith Farm, in Stoneville has been a family farm since before the Civil War. They grew tobacco from 1820 through the 1980’s. Today, they grow 10 acres of certified organic produce. With the grant funds, they plan to add a high tunnel greenhouse to grow USDA Certified Organic greens and vegetables year round.
- Kevin Hobbs of Faison will use the grant funds to repurpose three greenhouses from growing tobacco transplants to growing specialty produce. As the farm operation moves away from tobacco, this transition will provide year-round cash-flow and work opportunities.
- Stokes Future received a small community grant to purchase a trailer for the Stokes Future Farmer’s Market.
- Pauline Hylton of Mount Airy received a grant to support a new farm venture. She and her husband Tom inherited the farm in 2013 from Tom’s grandparents. They plan to combine chickens and goats on their pasture and will sell meat at both the farmers market and to wholesale markets.
- Kim Davis of Fremont received a small grant to develop a new business, Greenhouse Transplant Tray Steaming Services. Davis realized that tray steaming had become a necessity for tobacco growers since the original process to control pathogens, using methyl bromide is no longer available. Control of disease pathogens can be achieved by tray steaming at 175 degrees for 30 minutes. Davis, who has been growing tobacco transplants since 1990 will offer the service to tobacco growers in the region.
- David Batts from Macclesfield, and owner of Old House Honey received a small grant to expand his bee pollination service from 25 to 100 hives. The service is available to horticulture farms in Wilson County and surrounding areas.
- Cullin Williford from Elm City received a small grant to diversify his family farm with three new crops, squash, cabbage and onions. The produce will be marketed to grocery stores and wholesalers under the brand name Sugar Hill. Cullin hopes that the Sugar Hill brand will become known for produce of high quality and good taste.
- Alan Sharp from Sims is part of a fifth generation family farm. He received a small grant to market their pork and sweet potatoes to a new customer base through the development of Sharps Farm Sweet Potato Sausage. Alan is working with NCSU Food Science Department to formulate the final product and design the packaging.
NC AgVentures Grant Projects (2014)
Agent Mary Jac Brennan
The Hutchison’s purchased a Cover Crop Roller Crimper for Organic No-Till, to transition a tobacco farm into an organic farm raising heirloom vegetables, herbs and flowers. The Hutchison’s keep meticulous notes, and the data from this project will be of interest to any farmer looking to transition to organic farming.
Agent Mary Jac Brennan
Livingstone Flowmeh-Mawutor has been growing Moringa, an herbal supplement on a small demonstration site in an urban setting. He mentored 5 young people working in the garden. Moringa is an important food source in some parts of the world because it can be grown cheaply and easily, and the leaves retain lots of vitamins and minerals. After three years of testing, Livingstone is preparing to begin production of dried Moringa leaf capsules.
Agent Mary Jac Brennan
Laura Frazier has built a cottage industry around discarded fleece. She collects the waste wool from her farm and from two commercial sheep operations and re-purposes the wool into art supplies for artists and for clothing. She markets the wool at local markets and through the internet. Frazier purchased fencing to reduce the time and labor required for the rotational sheep grazing process. She also purchased wool processing equipment.
Stokes County Director Debbie Cox
Mark Nicholson and his family operate NOMAD Farm, an educational farm that incorporates rotational grazing techniques they learned while living in the Tibetan Plateau of Western China. With the grant funds they expanded their educational farm tours, added a youth summer camp and offered a semester long farm internship for students and young adults. They sell pasture-raised poultry and grass-fed beef, hogs, lamb, veggies and flowers. Webpage: http://www.nomadfarms.org/.
Agent Billy Little
Patrick Owens has been farming with a local famer for 10 years. In 2014 he made an arrangement to rent land from the same farmer. He split his efforts between the proven techniques of raising tobacco and the newer technique of growing produce in plastic mulch framing. Patrick learned a lot and wanted to continue his research. With the award funds he purchased the equipment to install plasticulture and drip irrigation equipment. Owens is working on a degree in agriculture and plans to own his farm.
Agent Andy Burlingham
Jonathan White farms with his father on land that has passed down through several generations. They transitioned from tobacco to soybeans, cotton, wheat, corn and livestock in 2011. The tornado that came through last year destroyed their hay storage facilities, farm equipment, and equipment barns. Jonathan says you cannot take out enough insurance to cover catastrophic losses. They used the funds to rebuild the hay storage barn.
Agent Andy Burlingham
With grain prices on the down swing, Robert James decided to convert bushels of grain into pounds of beef. He has set aside acreage to be planted in a variety of small grains suitable for cattle, pigs and poultry feed. Next year, they plan to offer livestock feed to local farmers and meat producers. The grant funds were used to purchase equipment and to renovate a shelter for feed storage.
Stokes County Director Debbie Cox
The Fergusons are working on a certified kitchen for the production and development of value-added products from their farm. The Fergusons will rent the kitchen to other local farmers and small food-based businesses. (Plum Granny’s Farm Community Kitchen)
Agent Joanna Radford
Chad Bullington farms the same land his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents farmed. He believes that change is a necessary part of farming. He has implemented a two-year tobacco/corn rotation for soil and water compliance. He has developed a niche market of buyers who want small bags of corn for personal use. This market pays almost double what the mill pays. With the grant funds he purchased equipment to establish a bagging operation to sell bags of corn and poultry litter.
Agent Joanna Radford
Surry County has a strong heritage of tobacco farming but over time many farms, especially those in the higher elevations transitioned to nursery stock, boxwoods, and Christmas trees. Boxwood blight came into the region about 3 years ago.
Present estimates suggest over a 7 million dollar loss to growers and processors with no remedy in sight. The grant funds are being used to locate and research plant materials that would serve as substitutes for the loss of the boxwood industry. A local farm offered a portion of their land to be used for research and the project will be managed by NCSU College of Agriculture.
Surry County, Agent Joanna Radford
The Slate family has owned and operated Riverside Farm for five generations. The family transitioned from growing tobacco to producing grains in 2010; and last year they added a corn maze. They plan to enhance their agri-tourism business with a corn crib and a small admission/concession building.
Agent Norman Harrell
Spencer Davis, a third generation tobacco farmer is diversifying his income by expanding his pea crop. He purchased a used Pixall picker and adapted the picker to fit his needs. To make the process more efficient, he removed the conveyor and had a local welding shop fabricate a funnel (the bright yellow piece) for the beans to fall down into plastic crates for handling. Using scrap metal from an old tobacco baler he made a platform for a rider and grates.
Agent Norman Harrell
The Leggett’s operate Cardinal Pine Farm. They are working on a pilot project to grow beer hops on a 20-foot vertical structure made of poles and cables on less than an acre of land. The Leggett’s market their hops to micro-brewers in nearby counties. They purchased materials and a hammer mill and pelletizer to freeze hops when they are harvested.
Agent Norman Harrell
Richard is the first farmer, in his region, to own an on-farm peanut dryer. He grows 450 acres of peanuts. This system will enable the operation to be more productive, efficient and reduce expenses. Richard’s experience with this investment will provide useful information to Extension and other peanut farmers in the region.
County Director Walter Earle
Scott Sullivan started selling corn and potatoes in his front yard at the age of 5. The Sullivan Family Farm grows tobacco, cotton, corn, wheat and soybeans. Scott wanted to expand and diversify the produce garden and purchased a sand filter to save water. Low rain fall makes this an ideal year to test the system.
Agent Billy Little
Sweet potato harvest begins in early September, the bins start coming back anywhere from one week of harvest until 12 months depending on when the potatoes are cured, and packed. The RFID tracking tags that are placed on each bin are like grocery store bar codes. Todd Glover believes the tracking technology will not only reduce the number of lost bins, but may reduce the number of man hours required to monitor the distribution process. The technology would be useful to any grower using bins.
Agent Billy Little
James Sharp, who grew up on his family’s tobacco farm turned a backyard garden into a major wholesale produce company. He grows 80 acres of fruits and vegetables. In 2001 James became the operator of Dean’s Farm Market, a community market with a strong customer base. He has purchased equipment to flash freeze and vacuum pack surplus crops from his farm, as well as surplus purchased from other farms. This will eliminate waste and expand the out-of-season selections for Dean’s Market customers. Webpage: http://deansfarmmarket.com/
County Director Walter Earle
The “Got to be NC Show Pig Sale” was held in the Wilson County Livestock Arena on June 20th. An auctioneer took bids from the stage, while another person took online bids. They offered 80 show quality piglets for sale, and sold 46; the average price was $295 per pig. One piglet sold for $1000. Sales like this are popular in the mid-west, but new to North Carolina. The auction not only provides a marketing opportunity; it gives these farms statewide recognition that can lead to sales throughout the year.
County Director Walter Earle
Joey Scott and his children have built a reputation and niche market for breeding show quality piglets. They used the grant funds to build a facility for housing sows and farrowing these highly prized piglets. Ben and his sister Sarah work together caring for the pigs and preparing them for show. Eight litters of pigs have been delivered since the building was completed. At the Got to be NC Show Pig Sale, June 20th, Ben sold the high selling pig at $1000.
Stokes County Director Debbie Cox
Jess Scott of Danbury bought his farm with flue-cured tobacco quota many years ago and has grown tobacco most of his life. Scott installed a high-tunnel structure that will allow him to extend the vegetable production season, diversify the farm operation and create part-time employment opportunities.
County Director Colleen Church
Cindy Shore purchased a commercial Dehydrator and Vacuum-Sealer to produce a product line of dried and frozen packaged ready to prepare soup mixes, vegetable side dishes, vegetable chips, teas, herb/spice seasonings from the vegetables and herbs produced on her organic farm. Her project will repurpose surplus fruits and vegetables, provide extended employment opportunities to seasonal labor and offer drying and packaging services to local growers.
Yadkin County Director Colleen Church
After the tobacco buy-out, the Hemric family of Hamptonville was searching for ways to diversify their farm operation. In 2013, they added an agri-tourism component and opened the Alpha and Omega Corn Maze. In addition to the maze, visitors can go for a hayride, hop aboard the barrel train or watch a pumpkin canon shoot off. The grant funds were used to build permanent restroom facilities and a concession stand. Webpage: http://yadkinvalleycornmaze.com/?page_id=287
County Director Colleen Church
Yadkin County is a predominantly rural county with agriculture leading as the top employer and number one industry in the county. Fruit and vegetable production are viable alternatives to tobacco production, and bring a higher return than traditional row crops. The goal of this community project is to purchase a raised bed mulch layer and water wheel transplanter that will be available for producers to rent; making it easier to expand a small garden and or to transition away from tobacco.