eNews January 2012

In this edition:

CFSA Events

More Learn to Cook Local Classes Coming to Winston-Salem

Slow Money and the Mill

NEW: First Certified Organic Cotton Harvested in Carolinas!

CFSA Works with Small Farmers to Develop Scale-Appropriate Food Safety Practices

CFSA Farmer Members Awarded Scholarships

CFSA Seeks Upstate Farms for June Farm Tour

SC Business Planning Course for Local Farm and Food Entrepreneurs

Southeast Seed Saving: Get Involved!

Environmental Quality Incentives Program – New Initiatives (Apply Now!)

Cost Share Assistance for Organic Certification

CFSA is Hiring!

Organic Transition Coordinator

Survey and Data Analysis Consultant

EXPERT TIP

from Karen McSwain, CFSA’s Organic Initiative Coordinator

Planting Strawberries

CFSA Events:

Organic Commodities and Livestock Conference

Jan. 12-13, 2012 in Rocky Mount, NC

Limited on-site registration available!

https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/oclc.shtml

 

Social Media for Farmers Workshops

January 24 – Guilford County (SOLD OUT)

January 31 – Watauga County

February 1 – Gaston County (SOLD OUT)

February 16 – Lenoir County

March 6 – Buncombe County

NEW! August 14 – Forsyth County

August 16 – Chatham County

REGISTER NOW –
https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/socialmediaforfarmers.shtml
NC Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council Meeting

Thursday, January 19, 2012

State fairgrounds’ Martin Building in Raleigh, NC

1:00-4:00pm. The meeting to discuss the issues the Council will focus on for 2012 is open to the public.

www.ncagr.gov/localfood

Greenville Food Hub 2012

Jan. 30, 2012

Greenville Tech’s NW Campus (8109 White Horse Rd)

CFSA is a proud sponsor of this first-annual event that brings together the Upstate’s most influential farmers, chefs, food artisans, and more.  Network, share amazing locally-produced food, and learn from Upstate experts, including CFSA’s own, Diana Vossbrinck, Upstate SC and Charlotte Regional Coordinator!

Tickets are on sale online – www.upstatefoodhub2012.eventbrite.com

Southern Farm Show, Organic Pest Management Workshop by CFSA

Feb. 1 at 11 am

Kerr Scott Building at State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, NC

http://www.southernshows.com/sfs/

Learning to Cook Local

February 7 at 6pm

Forsyth County Agriculture building (1450 Fairchild Road, Winston-Salem NC)

Register SOON at CFSA’s online store!

 

NxLevel® for Agricultural Entrepreneurs

9 week course starting February 27th, at 5:30pm in Pendleton, SC.

BizBuilderSC.com

 

Save the Date:

Piedmont Farm Tour – The planning committee for the April Piedmont Farm Tour has begun its work.  Be on the look-out for the list of farms and tour dates in the next few weeks.  As usual, we will need lots of volunteers and appreciate our wonderful helpers!

Upstate Farm Tour – June 2-3

Sustainable Ag Conference – Oct 26 – 28, 2012 in Greenville, SC

CFSA News:

More Learn to Cook Local Classes Coming to Winston-Salem

December 8th marked the first of the ‘Learn to Cook Local’ cooking class series in Winston-Salem.  These classes are coordinated by Cultivate Piedmont, a program of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.  These classes focus on seasonal ingredients sourced from local farms and are taught by local chefs who use local ingredients as part of their restaurants and businesses.  The chef, Kevin Fisher of Winston-Salem’s The Screaming Rooster taught a sold out crowd innovative ways to use locally grown heirloom pumpkins from nearby Shore Farms.  Attendants left with recipes, ideas and contact information for the local businesses that supplied the ingredients.  The class series will continue with chefs from other Winston-Salem area restaurants such as Breakfast of Course, Mooney’s Mediterranean Cafe and Jeff Bacon of Triad Community Kitchen.

> Click here for a great story about last month’s cooking class!
Slow Money and the Mill

by Jennifer Lapidus, CFSA’s Organic Grain Initiative Coordinator

 

I was in Pittsboro yesterday for a CFSA staff meeting. During our meeting, I wrote the words, “slow money” on my hand to remind me to contact our slow money lender as soon as I returned to Asheville to give her an update on the mill. We closed our meeting with a group lunch at Angelina’s Kitchen, http://www.angelinaskitchenonline.com/.  The food was amazing—fresh, local, flavorful– and the atmosphere felt more like a community center than a restaurant. During lunch I looked down at the words on my hand and then remembered reading about Angelina’s Kitchen in the Abundance Foundation’s website, http://slowmoneync.org/our-loans. This place had received one of NC Slow Money’s first loans. I mentioned this to our group and Angelina, who happened to be sitting one table away doing paperwork, chimed in. She said that getting a slow money loan was so much more than just getting a loan. It was building community. Her small business loan came from real people. Her lenders chose to invest in her business because she adds something to this community—and so everyone benefits. She and her husband have their business; Pittsboro gets this wonderful restaurant; and she is supporting local growers, buying their produce, meat, cheese, and even flour. And she dishes up the most delectable food.

When I told her that our mill, Carolina Ground, L3C had recently received the first Western NC Slow Money loan, she lit up. With brimming enthusiasm she told us how she had gotten rye flour that had been grown by Bobby Tucker and milled by baker Abraham Palmer of Box Turtle Bakery, http://www.boxturtlebakery.com/. And then she disappeared, swiftly reappearing with slices of apple cake made with this flour for all of us to taste. Delicious.

This morning I called our lender. I told her we had hoped to be milling by now, but had hit a snag—something to do with amperage and voltage—but we’re addressing it and hope to be milling soon enough. We had planned on beginning the first payment on our slow money loan this month, as it is the first of the year. I told her I still wanted to go ahead and make our first payment. She thanked me for calling. She said it meant so much to her that I was keeping her abreast of our progress. And she said she was not attached to beginning payment in January– that getting this mill off the ground is what matters most right now.

This is what it looks like when we move our money from Wall Street to Main Street.

> The mill is so close!  Keep up with Jennifer and the mill’s progress at: http://ncobfp.blogspot.com/

 

TS Designs Announces First Certified Organic Cotton Harvested in North Carolina

North Carolina Apparel Companies and Farmers Partner to Improve Textile Supply Chain

In 2006, Eric Henry, president of TS Designs, and Brian Morrell, president of Mortex Apparel, met with experts in state agriculture. Their mission: to grow organic cotton in North Carolina. The response: it can’t be done.

Now, five years later and for the first time in recent memory, a usable volume of USDA-certified organic cotton is being harvested in North Carolina. Despite a myriad of challenges to growing organic cotton in the state, including weeds, pests and defoliation issues, two North Carolina farms – Hickory Meadows Organics and Parrish Enterprises – have grown 65 acres of healthy organic cotton that will be harvested by the end of the month.

Henry and Morrell have worked with these farms to grow organic cotton in their home state and as a solution for what they considered a broken supply chain. Until now, TS Designs’ organic cotton T-shirts have been made at Mortex, but due to a shortage of U.S.-grown organic cotton, they have been made from overseas yarn.

“The journey of growing organic cotton in North Carolina began about five years ago when we were told it couldn’t be done,” said Henry. “We started by making T-shirts from cotton grown in the state with a line called Cotton of the Carolinas, knowing that eventually we could do the same thing with certified organic cotton grown here.”

Henry and Morrell partnered to create Cotton of the Carolinas, which has been sold for the past few years. Since the cotton was not certified organic, the brand focused on supporting local jobs and creating an entirely transparent supply chain, connecting the wearer of every shirt with every producer in the supply chain.

“Conventional textile wisdom says you can’t create an apparel line from one farm, but we did it,” said Morrell. “This organic cotton harvest is the next milestone and represents significant opportunity in bringing a positive impact to both jobs and the environment in our state.”

> Organic certificates and harvest photos are available at www.tsdesigns.com/ncorganic. A harvest video is also available. The cotton quality, and thus the potential end product uses, will be determined after ginning in January. Henry is committed to finding buyers nearby to use the cotton.
CFSA Works with Small Farmers to Develop Scale-Appropriate Food Safety Practices

As part of our Local Produce Safety Initiative, CFSA started The Opening Markets project blog (http://gapsmallfarmsnc.wordpress.com/), which discusses topics and issues that were discovered during farm visits in summer of 2011. Farmers created diaries during the summer of 2011 discussing food safety topics and issues related to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification. Final farm visits will be completed in the beginning of 2012 and ten farms are scheduled to complete the GAP certification process by the end of summer 2012. A guidance document will be prepared with hopes of demystifying the GAP certification process and aiding farmers in implementing risk reduction practices that will increase passing rates and reduce foodborne illness.
CFSA Farmer Members Awarded Scholarships

As part of our Growing Green Farmers program, CFSA has partnered with the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (Southern SAWG) to provide continuing education to new and beginning farmers in South Carolina.  Full scholarships to the 2012 Southern SAWG annual conference (January 18-21, 2012) have been awarded to six SC farmers who will accompany CFSA regional coordinator, Diana Vossbrinck, to Little Rock, Arkansas later this month for the Practical Tools & Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms conference.  Our congratulations to scholarship recipients:

Peggy Anthony, The Fletcher Place (Pickens)

Bill Barrioz, Barrioz Natural Gardens (Central)

Justin Cannon, M.C. Cannon Farms (Monks Corner)

Leland Gibson, Gibson Farms (Westminster)

Eric McClam, City Roots (Columbia)

Leah Wong, Pitchfork Organics (North Augusta)

CFSA Seeks Upstate Farms for June Farm Tour

The sixth annual CFSA Upstate Farm Tour will be held on June 2nd and 3rd this year.  Any sustainable farm within one hour of metro Greenville, SC is welcome to apply. 

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Please email CFSA Regional Coordinator, Diana Vossbrinck if you would like to apply.  Applications will be due by the end of January; tour selections will be made in February.

We thank our generous sponsor, Whole Foods Market, for helping us connect families with local farms in the Upstate.

 

SC Business Planning Course for Local Farm and Food Entrepreneurs

Clemson University’s Institute for Economic and Community Development, the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, and BizBuilderSC are offering NxLevel® for Agricultural Entrepreneurs beginning February 27th 2012 at 5:30pm in Pendleton, SC. This nine week program offers established entrepreneurs the tools and resources to create and implement a plan for growth.  NxLevel® for Agricultural Entrepreneurs will target entrepreneurs interested in cultivating a stronger local food system: (urban/rural farmers, food artisans, chefs, value added business owners, those involved in food media, agritourism, processors, local market owners, etc.).

This program is designed to help entrepreneurs hone the skills needed to create, manage and/or grow successful businesses. NxLevel® is a product offered through BizBuilderSC. Experienced entrepreneurs facilitate the programs, and guest speakers, specializing in session topics, supplement their knowledge.  Additional guest speakers will cover issues related to sustainable agricultural production.  

Here’s a great testimonial from Leland Gibson of Gibson Farms in Westminster:

“When I signed up for the NxLevel Class, I was struggling to write a business

plan for my farm.  The class help to break the business plan into workable

sections and at the end of the class it was a simple matter of putting the

information together into a very nice professional looking business plan.

What I got out of the class went far beyond writing a business plan.  The

contacts I made while attending this class are the true value of this

class.   The networking opportunities before, during and after class, with

both the class participants and the weekly speakers help to foster new

ideas for my farm and identify new markets for my products. I can not think

of any other venue where I could have met and networked with so many people

that had the knowledge to help me along in my journey in Sustainable

Farming.”

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Interested entrepreneurs may sign up for the program by visiting BizBuilderSC.com or email Devin Swindall or phone him at (803) 315-4867 with questions.

Southeast Seed Saving: Get Involved!

This has been a great winter for sustainable seeds in the Carolinas.   An ad-hoc committee  group has formed to build a new seed producing coop in the region.  There are a number of things you can do to help, including:

  • Complete the survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SoutheastSeed to help us determine how we can best meet your needs.
  • Contact the committee representative in your state to get involved directly.  NC/SC representative is Peter Waskiewicz of Sow True Seeds; VA Representatives are Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Richard Moyer; GA representative is Elizabeth Little of the University of Georgia.
  • Get involved growing seeds in need of increase for the One Seed at a Time project by contacting Cricket Rakita at 540-894-7855.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program – New Initiatives and Apply NOW!

Get your applications in ASAP. The first batching date is Feb. 3, 2012. That means, on that day, states will rank and send all applications to national headquarters to be approved. That means you NEED to start the application process  NOW.  In the past, states have been allocated a certain amount of money for the EQIP-OI program. That is no longer the case; contracts will be approved at the national level. The second batching date is March 30th and the final is June 1st. Contact your local NRCS office NOW to get the application process started.

 

For more information about the program and application process please visit CFSA’s website: https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/eqip.shtml.

 

2012 Environmental Quality Incentives Program – Organic Initiative:

NRCS helps certified organic growers and producers working to achieve organic certification install conservation practices for organic production. New for fiscal year 2012, applicants will be evaluated continuously during the ranking periods. Applications meeting or exceeding a threshold score may be approved for an EQIP contract before the end of the ranking period. Applications rating below the threshold score will be deferred to the next period. A new threshold score will be established at the beginning of each ranking period. This new scoring process allows organic producers to implement conservation practices in a timelier manner. 

 

2012 Environmental Quality Incentives Program – Seasonal High Tunnel Pilot Initiative:

NRCS helps producers plan and implement high tunnels, steel-framed, polyethylene-covered structures that extend growing seasons in an environmentally safe manner. High tunnel benefits include better plant and soil quality, fewer nutrients and pesticides in the environment, and better air quality due to fewer vehicles being needed to transport crops. More than 4,000 high tunnels have been planned and implemented nationwide through this initiative over the past two years. 

 

*** NEW THIS YEAR — If you currently have a high tunnel that was NOT cost shared by NRCS you ARE EILIGIBLE to apply for one this year.

 

2012 Environmental Quality Incentives Program – On-Farm Energy Initiative:

NRCS and producers develop Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) or farm energy audits that assess energy consumption on an operation. NRCS then uses audit data to develop energy conservation recommendations. Each AgEMP has a landscape component that assesses equipment and farming processes and a farm headquarters component that assesses power usage and efficiencies in livestock buildings, grain handling operations, and similar facilities to support the farm operation.

 

There are two new conservation practices that address energy.

1) Renewable Energy Systems (716) – develop systems to utilize renewable energy sources to meet on-farm energy needs including hydropower, solar and wind.

2) Farmstead Energy Improvements (374) – develop and implement improvements to reduce, or improve the energy efficiency of on-farm energy use.

 

HOWEVER, in order for you to qualify for them you must first have an Agriculture Energy Management Plan (AgEMP) completed by a Technical Service Provider certified by NRCS. They are offering cost share assistance to complete these under:

1) Ag. Energy Management Plan – Headquarters (122)

2) Ag. Energy Management Plan – Landscape (124)

 

If you apply for an AgEMP in 2012 you will then be eligible to apply for Practice 716 and/or 374 in 2013. These practices will help cost share the implementation of some of the recommendations from the AgEMP.

 

**You may be able to qualify for Practice 716 and/or 374 in 2012 if you already have had an energy audit done that meets the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers S612 standard.**

 

 

Cost Share Assistance for Organic Certification

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) is providing cost share reimbursements for the costs of organic certification through September 2012. Last year they provided cost share assistance to 90 organic farmers in North Carolina for a total of $54,000. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to get cost share assistance to help cover your certification fees!

 

> Click here for the application (.pdf) to the program and here for an IRS W9 form (.pdf) required for reimbursement.

 

What costs qualify?  Allowable expenses include application fees, inspection costs, travel costs, user fees, sales assessments and postage.  Late fees, materials and supplies, equipment and transitional certifications are not eligible.

 

How do I apply?  Submit your application and supporting documentation to NCDA&CS by September 30, 2012.

 

How much am I eligible for?  Payments are limited to 75% of an individual producer’s or handler/processor’s certification costs up to a maximum of $750 per certification per year.  Expenses related to the certification must have been incurred between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012. 

 

> Contact Heather Barnes with any questions.

 

We are Hiring an Organic Transition Coordinator

The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) is hiring an Organic Transition Coordinator to run an exciting new grant-funded project to increase the number of farmers transitioning to certified organic in the Carolinas.  This is a part-time salaried, position that will implement the organic transition program in 2012. The Organic Transition Coordinator will: visit with organic, transitioning, or producers interested in transitioning to certified organic production to identify obstacles producers face in the transition process; identify resources and training needs to address obstacles; develop and publish guidance documents to support transition to organic production; provide training and consulting to producers interested in transitioning; develop and publish guidance documents on various organic production topics, and work with the Conservation Program Manager to prepare internal reports, compliance reports,  grant billings, and other tasks necessary to meet program goals. 

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For a complete job description visit https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/jobopening.shtml.

The Organic Transition Coordinator will report directly to the Conservation Practices Manager, and supervise no staff.  The coordinator may work remotely from anywhere in the Carolinas, however, the position will require extensive travel throughout the Carolinas.

Application deadline: Jan 15, 2012

CFSA Also Hiring a Survey and Data Analysis Consultant

The consultant will be responsible for editing the baseline survey; designing 2 follow-up surveys; analyzing survey data; and assisting CFSA staff with data reporting for the 6-month and 12-month progress report to our funders, the Golden LEAF Foundation.

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Experience with social surveys, statistics and data analysis and reporting
  • Doctoral or post-doctoral training preferred
  • Experience with agriculture or social media surveys a plus, but not required

> For a complete scope of services, visit https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/jobopening.shtml#survey

Application deadline: Jan 15, 2012

 

Expert Tip: Planting Strawberries

by Karen McSwain, CFSA’s Organic Initiatives Coordinator

If you are thinking about planting strawberries, now is the time to start planning since strawberries are typically planted in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked. Depending on your location, this could be as early as the end of February, beginning of March. The first step is to decide what type of strawberry you want the plant. There are June/spring bearing varieties, as well as ever-bearing, and day neutral varieties.  June/spring bearing varieties will produce a crop for two to three weeks in the spring. Depending on the amount planted, it could produce a large harvest in a small amount of time so make sure you have a strong market for them! Ever-bearing strawberries will typically produce fruit three different times during the growing season, once in the spring, once in the summer, and then again in the fall. Day neutral strawberries will produce throughout the growing season.  In order to have berries all season long, think about plating some of each!

Strawberries are planted as crowns, also called mothers, and it is important to cover just the roots when plating and not the crowns. They can be planted in a matted row, spaced row, or hilled type system.  In the matted row system the “runners” and “daughters” are allowed to root freely, forming what is called a matted row. This system requires a fair amount of space so be sure to space plants eighteen to thirty inches apart.  The matted row system works best for June bearing varieties.

In a spaced row system, mother plants are spaced eighteen to thirty inches apart and daughter plants are allowed to root 4 inches apart. However, all runners are pulled or cut from the mother plants. This system of planting typically yields higher with larger berries and less disease problems because air can more freely move through the plants.

The hill system requires all runners to be removed from the mother plant at planting. This causes the mother plant to develop more crowns and flowering stalks. Plants are set in rows and planted two, three, or four plants spaced one foot apart in groups with two foot spacing between groups. Plants should be weeded during the first few weeks of growth and then mulched heavily for weed control.

During the first year of growth, flower blossoms should be removed for June/spring bearing varieties as soon as they appear in order to promote root and runner development. While it is VERY difficult to sacrifice the fruit of your labor during year one, this will result in a larger crop in year two. For ever-bearing and day neutral varieties flowers should be removed until the end of June, allowing summer blossoms to remain for a late summer/ fall harvest.

When choosing a site to plant your strawberries, remember, they prefer a well-drained soil that is high in organic matter. They also require full sunlight for at least 6 hours a day in order to produce high yields. Strawberries should not be plated in fields that were recently planted in solanacea crops (peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes) because these crops are alternative hosts for verticillium wilt which can cause serious disease problems in strawberries.

Because strawberries flower early in the spring they are very susceptible to frost damage. Make sure you have a frost protection plan in place to protect the flowers during late spring frosts. If you used straw mulch to cover your plants during the winter, keep the mulch in the pathways to use to cover the plants for frost protection. The straw mulch will also come in handy during the growing season to help keep the weeds down and provide disease control by limiting the contact the fruit has with the soil. You can also use remay or other types of fabric row covers to provide frost protection. Some famers even use overhead irrigation to protect flowers from frost because as water freezes, the temperature around the water rises as latent heat is released warming the surface of the plant. If you are currently using overhead irrigation for frost protection and want to use fabric row covers instead, contact your local Natural Resource Conservation Office. You may be eligible for cost share assistance to help cover the expense of purchasing remay or row covers for frost protection.

 

Connect with CFSA – Join us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/carolinafarmstewards) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/carolinafarm) or contribute to our blog (http://www.carolinafarmstewardsblog.org)!

 

Share your News– Got a bright idea for a newsletter article or an upcoming event you’d like to publicize on the website?  E-mail Amy.

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