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NC State Extension

FAQ: Who Can Help Me?

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In an effort to answer your questions in a timely manner, I have decided to post a Frequently Asked Question Section. Before calling or emailing me, please check to see if your question has already been posted here. I apologize that this is rather impersonal, but I can’t even begin to answer all the emails and phone calls I receive now. Since I also need to leave time to do research, write, and speak, I hope you find this a useful alternative.

Q: Individual Assistance. Do you schedule individual appointments with growers?

A: I rarely do individual appointments, although I organize and speak at workshops and conferences all across the state and region. My job as a statewide specialist is to conduct research in my subject area (organics, medicinal herbs, mushrooms, hemp, and specialty crops), create extension/outreach materials (websites, publications, and presentations) based on that research, and then train extension agents on those topics to serve the farmers directly. We are very fortunate in North Carolina to have a strong county extension system. Every county has an office with at least one agent responsible for the crop areas I cover. I suggest that you contact your local extension office and schedule an appointment to visit with your agent. Also, check the Extension Calendar of Events to find out about conferences and workshops in your area that might be of interest.

Q: Small Farm Start-Up. I am interested in starting a small farm and growing some specialty crops such as herbs and hops. Where can I get information on the business aspects of starting a small farm? And are there any organizations that offer grants for new projects like this? Also, is there someone locally who can help me?

A: Here is a good USDA Rural Information Center website for information on starting a small farm and getting funding, grants and loans.

For small grants in North Carolina, I suggest that you look at the RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation International) and WNC Ag Options websites. They have programs that awards small grants for farmers.

Another opportunity is the Southern SARE grant program.

Your best local sources for help with your farming efforts include your county extension office and farm service agency. These two web pages will let you find the offices in your county:

Jeanine Davis, NC Alternative Crops and Organics Program, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University (updated 6/22/2022).