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Alternative Agriculture Opportunities Workshop- 2003 Report

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This is a 2003 report from a NC Specialty Crops Program Project. It is posted for historical reference purposes.

PROJECT LEADER(S): Jeff Vance, Jerry Moody, and Stanley Holloway
TYPE OF PROJECT: Educational
LOCATION: Mitchell County

IMPACT

The Alternative Agriculture Opportunities Workshop gave small and limited resource farmers in Mitchell, Yancey, and Avery counties an opportunity to gain educational information on alternative agriculture and alternative crops that can be profitable for our area. The workshop attracted 35 farmers from the three counties, and provided information on agritourism, organic vegetable production, native ornamental production, galax and ramp production, as well as marketing information. The attendees indicated via written evaluation that the meeting served to increase their knowledge of new crops and marketing ideas, and many stated they were interested in implementing information that they received.

INTRODUCTION
Small and limited-resource farmers in the tri-county area of Mitchell, Avery and Yancey counties have a need for information on alternative agriculture opportunities available to sustain the viability of their farms. With the present uncertainty surrounding the tobacco program, many growers are looking for crops to replace income received from tobacco. To meet the need for education regarding opportunities with specialty crops and alternative agriculture avenues, the Cooperative Extension Centers in Mitchell, Avery, and Yancey Counties organized an Alternative Agriculture Workshop.

METHODS

The Alternative Agriculture Workshop was held at Mayland Community College. Presentations were made on agritourism, marketing through a local tailgate farmers market, and production of organic vegetables, native ornamentals, galax and ramps. Each participant received a notebook with proceedings of the meeting as well as other publications on alternative crops.

RESULTS

Participants responded that they had gained knowledge of new marketing techniques and of new alternative crops. Participants also responded that they would incorporate the information gained into their production practices.

CONCLUSION

The program was a success and the funds made available through the Specialty Crops Program allowed us to reach more people and provide them with educational materials that we normally could not afford to purchase.