Workshop & Tour for Season Extension Techniques in Mitchell County
PROJECT LEADER(S): Jeffery K. Vance
IMPACT: Following the workshop, during the 2004 marketing season there were three of the workshop participants that implemented the techniques that they learned and were able to begin selling at the Bakersville and Spruce Pine farmers markets a couple of weeks earlier than what they normally would. It was estimated that growers were able to earn $2000 more this season than last due to the increased selling season.
SUMMARY: Season extension can benefit local growers by having crops earlier and later in the season when other growers do not have crops available. This will increase their marketing options. Three growers have implemented these practices. This has also allowed the local farmers markets to be open longer this season.
Mitchell County established a new farmers market a few years ago and we opened a mid-week market in Spruce Pine this past season. The opportunity to open the market earlier in the year and stay open later in the year would be a big boost to each market. To do this the Mitchell County Extension Center used the specialty crops grant money to hold a workshop to educate participants on techniques they could use to extend their growing season. A power point presentation was designed to teach season extension techniques which included using cold frames, cloches, floating row covers and tunnels to extend the growing season. Following the classroom workshop a tour was arranged to take producers to see farms in Madison County that were implementing some or all of these techniques.
The workshop participants gained the knowledge that they would need to increase their production and to market their crops for a longer period of time each season. This also benefited our two local markets by allowing them to have more produce available for a longer period of time. The only downside of the project was low grower participation in the workshop. This will be something that the Mitchell County Extension Center will offer again to get more people involved.