This time of year is typically a little slower on the farm. It’s a time for repairing equipment and prepping for the upcoming planting season. It’s also the time of year when commodity groups and other ag organization have annual meetings and the department has workshops and meetings to help prepare for the upcoming year.
Ag Development Forum – The potential for North Carolina’s two largest industries – agriculture and the military – to work together will be highlighted at the 10th annual Ag Development Forum on Feb. 5 at the State Fairgrounds. The forum will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Holshouser Building. It is being held in conjunction with the Southern Farm Show. Admission is free and lunch will be provided, but registration is requested by Jan. 30. Contact Christina Waggett at 919-707-3008.
NCDA&CS to host farmer meetings with Harris Teeter – The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will host two meetings for N.C. farmers interested in selling fresh produce and greenery to Harris Teeter. To register, contact Tony Haywood, NCDA&CS retail marketing specialist, at 919-707-3140. Dates and locations are below.
NCDA&CS offers risk-management classes for farmers – The department will offer a series of risk-management workshops across the state in January through March. The workshops will focus on managing price volatility and identifying macro indicators. For more information or to register for the workshops, contact Nick Lassiter, NCDA&CS marketing specialist, at 919-707-3129. Following are upcoming dates, locations and contact numbers:
Business Planning Workshop for Food Entrepreneurs – This one-day workshop for existing food businesses will focus on setting sales goals, making financial projections and improving marketing efforts. The workshop will be offered Jan. 29 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Matthews Library, 230 Matthews Station St., Matthews. There is no cost for the workshop, but pre-registration is required. For more information, contact Annette Dunlap at 919-707-3117.
A Successful Season 2015: Building a Stronger Farmers Market – This workshop for farmers market managers will be held Feb. 20, 2015 at the Guilford County Coooperative Extension Office in Greensboro. Cost is $20 per person. Registration deadline is Feb. 11. For more information, contact Annette Dunlap at 919-707-3117.
Food Business Conference: “To Market, To Market” – The conference will be offered from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in two locations: Feb. 24 at the Alamance Cooperative Extension office, 209-C N. Graham-Hopedale Road in Burlington, and March 12 at Mayland Community College, 200 Mayland Dr. in Spruce Pine. At each location, the program will include presentations on product promotion, market selection, and building customer loyalty. Cost is $40 and registration opens Jan. 30. Registration deadlines are Feb. 13 for Burlington and March 1 for Spruce Pine. For more information, contact Annette Dunlap at 919-707-3117.
Other learning opportunities:
Sandhills Farm School 2015 – The Sandhills Farm School is a seven-month educational program that trains beginning and transitioning farmers with a strong commitment to operate successful small-scale sustainable farms. The school offers business-planning seminars, which will give farmers the tools to create a viable business plan for a small-scale, economically sustainable farm enterprise. The school also includes field trips at working farms led by innovative experienced farmers. School runs Feb. 19-Aug. 20 at the Richmond County Cooperative Extension Center in Rockingham.
First Regional NC and VA Hops Conference – The conference is designed to bring together a large number of regional hop growers and brewers to help continue to grow the Southeastern hops industry. Conference is March 14 at Forsyth County Center in Winston-Salem. A special pre-conference event for new growers will be held March 13 from 2 to 6 p.m. to learn how to grow hops from experienced growers in the region.
Improving Forest Health, Building Family Wealth – This one-day workshop will cover tax and estate planning issues related to owning forestlands, current and future market trends, timber marketing and more. It will be held Feb. 11 at the Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center in Williamston. Workshop is free, but registration by Feb. 4 is required.
NC Aquaculture Development Conference – The 2015 N.C. Aquaculture Development Conference will be held in New Bern, Feb. 25-28, with presentations, workshops and tours of regional aquaculture farms. Speakers will provide market insights, best management practices and industry updates for aquaculture operations across the Southeast. The conference also includes the AquaFood Festival, a dinner featuring N.C. farm-raised fish and shellfish, Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m. The conference will take place at the Doubletree by Hilton in New Bern.