NC State Extension

Produce Projects

2017 PROJECTS

Duplin County, Extension County Director Amanda Hatcher
Rooks King Wells from Rose Hill grows 40 acres of organic produce. He will use his grant funds to purchase an agricultural flame weeder.

Edgecombe County, Extension County Director Art Bradley
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

Forsyth County, Agent May Jac Brennan
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.

Harnett County, Agent Brian Parrish

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 un-shelled beans.

Johnston County, Agents Brandon Parker and Tim Britton

Cameron Ennis from Garner will purchase a flatbed truck for hauling watermelons and small grains to market.

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 micro-greens operation.

Martin County, Agent Lance Grimes
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.

Rockingham County, Agent Kathryn Holmes
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.

Surry County, Agent Joanna Radford
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.

Wayne County, Agent Jennifer Strickland
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.

Wilson County, Agent Tommy Batts
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.

Yadkin County, Extension Director Colleen Church
Chad and Brenda Blake from North Wilkesboro will use the grant to convert three tobacco greenhouses for hanging baskets and bedding plants.

2016 PROJECTS

Forsyth County, Agent Mary Jac Brennan

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

2015 PROJECTS

Guilford County, Agent John Ivey

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.

Guilford County, Agent John Ivey
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.

Johnston County, Agent Brandon Parker

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.

Johnston County, Agent Tim Britton

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.

Wilson County, Agent Billy Little

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.

Wilson County, Agent Billy Little

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.

Martin County, Extension County Director, Al Cochran

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.

Rockingham County, Agent Kathryn Holmes    

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.

Rockingham County, Agent Kathryn Holmes  

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.

Sampson County, Agent Della King

Kevin Hobbs of Faison will use the grant funds to re-purpose 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 County, Project Manager Ronda Jones

Stokes Future received a small community grant to purchase a trailer for the Stokes Future Farmer’s Market.

Wayne County, Agent Tyler Whaley

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.

2014 GRANT PROJECTS

Wilson County, Agent Norman Harrell

Mechanical Pea Harvester

pea-pickerSpencer Davis, a third generation tobacco farmer plans to diversify his income by expanding his vegetable garden into 10 acres of income producing produce. Peas are his specialty and he will use his grant funds to purchase a mechanical pea harvester. Davis, who has an Agricultural engineering degree, said he is looking forward to learning how it works and possibly modifying it to work with other crops.

Update:  Spencer has planted 10 acres of peas, butterbeans, and snap bean. He has purchased a used Pixall picker. In addition, he has purchased a Bean and Pea Sheller. He has more than invested the 10% matching funds he was required. Butterbean harvest should begin very soon.

Davis adapted the picker to fit his needs. The picker came with an unload conveyor to dump straight into a trailer for large volume operations. He removed the conveyor and had a local welding shop fabricate a funnel (the bright yellow piece below) for the beans to fall down into plastic crates for handling. Using scrap metal from and old tobacco baler he made a platform (brown piece below) for a rider and storage of full and empty crates.

Nash County, Agent Billy Little

Plasticulture Produce Farm Expansion

p.owens4Patrick Owens, a student at Nash Community College is using profits from rented farmland to pay for college tuition. Last year, he experimented with borrowed equipment and grew a variety of seasonal vegetables using plasticulture. Plastic mulch offers many advantages, it insulates the plants and maintains a consistent temperature and humidity of the soil; it prevents evaporation which reduces water use, minimizes seed-time and harvest, prevents weed growth and erosion. With the award funds he plans to purchase the equipment to install more plasticulture and drip irrigation equipment. Owens is working on a degree in agriculture.

 

Update:  The grant enabled Patrick to purchase a plastic and drip laying machine so he could establish his beds of watermelons in a timely manner and not have to wait for a customer operator to schedule him in at a later time. This reduces the amount of water needed for irrigation, reduces soil contact of the fruit for disease and food safety concerns and lessens the need for pesticides for weed control. Patrick will be harvesting melons for the market the first week of July 2015.

Wilson County, Agent Billy Little

Sweet Potato Inventory Management

scannerTodd Glover who has farmland in Wilson and Nash will create a high tech inventory management system using Radio Frequency Identification Technology (RFID) to manage his sweet potato inventory. RFID works via a tag that is placed on each product bin for subsequent tracking with scanners as the boxes of sweet potatoes are transported and distributed to their final market destination.

Update: The scanner, bin tags, and software have been purchased. Ninety-nine percent of the current inventory has been tagged. The application development is complete.

Wilson County, Agent Norman Harrell

Peanut Drying System

gas line install 2Richard Aycock of Stantonsburg grows 450 acres of peanuts. He plans to install an on-farm peanut drying system that will enable the operation to be more productive, efficient and reduce expenses.

Update:  Richard ordered two Blueline peanut dryers from Georgia. He is making site improvements for where the peanut dryers will be located by having natural gas and 3-phase power installed at the site. These are additional expenditures for Richard. He indicated that he with the total project he will have approximately $30,000 of his funds invested in the project. The peanut dryers will be installed and ready to operate by fall for the peanut harvest.

 Wilson County, County Director Walter Earle

Sullivan Farms Produce Enhancement

sandfilterpumpScott Sullivan of Lucama started his produce business at the age of 5, selling corn and potatoes in his front yard. In addition to produce, the Sullivan Farm grows tobacco, cotton, corn, wheat and soybeans. With the grant funds, the Sullivan’s purchased a sand filter that will save both water and energy costs and help to diversify farm produce crops.

Update: This is proving to be an excellent year to have added the sand and disc filter system. In year’s past with limited irrigation water available Scott has had to limit irrigation. By adding the filter, he has been able to supply the water needs for all Sullivan Farm sweet corn, butter beans, peas and sweet potato plants. As the weather gets hotter and drier the benefit of the filter will only increase. The system cost more than was anticipated but has conserved a tremendous amount of water. They now believe it will pay for itself in one season.

Forsyth County, Agent Mary Jac Brennan

Roller Crimper for Organic No Till 

roller-crimperAl and Linda Hutchison are transforming a 25 acre, former tobacco farm in Tobaccoville, NC into an organic farm to raise heirloom vegetables, herbs and wildflowers. They used their funding to purchase a crop roller crimper. With this tool they can roll and kill the cover crop without using herbicide. This method builds the soil and helps maintain moisture and provides non-chemical weed management. The roller crimper would allow them to produce more organically, more efficiently and put an additional 6 acres into grain production.

 Update: The Hutchison’s are keeping good notes which will be useful to other farmers that are considering using a Roller Crimper. The plan called for drill seeding Buckwheat on approximately two acres, and Clay Cowpea and Millet on four and one half acres.

They filled the roller-crimper with water, which added about 600lbs. It was immediately clear that while the forks on the front of the tractor were rated to lift well above this limit; pushing this roller on the ground was putting a tremendous strain on the forks, and it was unstable. To improve stability, they put the roller-crimper onto the back three-point hitch of the tractor and pulling. The initial plan of making one pass to both push the roller-crimper and pull the drill seeder was adjusted to make two passes. The first pass would conduct the mechanical kill and the second pass would drill seed.

Unfortunately there was no rain from the seeding date until June 1st. As of the date of this report, June 10th, there is some germination of the Buckwheat, and no notable germination on either the Millet or Cowpea.

Stokes County, County Director Debbie Cox and Agent Randy Fulk

High Tunnel Production

CaptureJess Scott of Danbury bought his farm with flue-cured tobacco quota many years ago and has grown tobacco most of his life. Scott plans to use grant funds to buy a high-tunnel structure that will allow him to extend the vegetable production season, diversify the farm operation and create part-time employment opportunities.

 

Update:  The land has been cleared and leveled for a High Tunnel Structure. To do a little research, Debbie Cox, Stokes County Director, took Jess to visit a farm that has a high tunnel. He ordered a 30’ by 80’ tunnel, to be delivered on Friday July 3rd of 2015. He also bought seed for the fall crop of tomatoes.

Written By

Photo of Jackie Murphy Miller, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionJackie Murphy MillerNC AgVentures Grant Program Coordinator (919) 628-0163 jackie_miller@ncsu.eduANR/CRD - NC State University
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