Farm City Week
As a Cooperative Extension Agent, I have the privilege of meeting many farmers. This is probably my most favorite thing about my job and is what attracted me most to this profession. Since, I’ve come to work with Extension nine months ago, I’ve met many fine farmers in Catawba County and what I’ve found is that while the products they produce, production methods, and backgrounds vary widely, they are some of the hardest working, dedicated people I know. Farming is not easy. While there are many new advances to help farmers, profits remain slim, and those who are successful must have finely tuned skills in business, production, time efficiency, marketing, risk management, mechanics, social networking and many more not to mention an unreal physical and mental stamina. Nature is not an easy partner, requiring many back-up plans and nerves of steel. Why are farmers putting themselves through this you may ask? The most common answer we received from this diverse group was “I don’t know, I just love it”
While efforts to put a face to farming are thankfully increasing across the nation, we often only learn about those in direct marketing, selling at farmers markets, at road- side stands or those lucky to be featured in a grocery store local produce section. It would surprise people to know that 98% of farms in North Carolina are family farms and that in Catawba County many of these are small farms (less than 49 acres). According to the 2012 Agricultural census about 26% of the land in Catawba county is in farmland, about half of all natural areas, and from this land, cash receipts of $61 million were reported in 2015 (North Carolina agricultural statistics). Catawba County’s Farm & Food Sustainability Plan, adopted in 2013, acknowledges this economic importance and the need for increased farmland preservation and expanded programs to encourage and support farmers through research-based recommendations and an increase in market opportunities. Promotion of local agriculture is also emphasized in the plan through agritourism, farm tours, programs like Eat, Drink and Be Local week and The Farm-City Banquet and projects to help share farmers’ stories.
The Farmers of Catawba County, a photo exhibit of ten local farmers was developed by Cooperative Extension and photographer Ines Mueller, and will have its first opening on Tuesday, October 17th, at 5:30 at Newton Library, located at 115 W. C St., Newton, NC. This goal of this exhibit is to help put a face and a story to the fields and livestock you may drive past every day, the equipment you may see on the road and the food you may buy at the farmers market or enjoy in some locally sourcing restaurants. This photo exhibit will continue to travel to other libraries in Catawba County throughout the year, however, if you want a chance to meet the featured farmers, come to the opening where they will be taking some time off to hand out and meet with people.
Another great way to meet local farmers and learn more about the farming community is The Farm-City Banquet on Tuesday, November 7th from 5:30 – 9 p.m. at The Main City Cellar Club located at 322 1st Ave. SW, Hickory. Tickets are $15 and available in person at the Cooperative Extension, Catawba Center, 1175 S. Brady Ave. Newton, by phone at 828-465-8240 or online at www.eventbrite.com
Other upcoming programs at Cooperative Extension, Catawba Center
Marketing of your Food Business- Monday Oct. 16th 1-3 p.m.
Seed Selection for 2018- Monday Nov. 13th 1-3 p.m.