Danelle Cutting: Farm School has the answers

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 7, 2014

By Danelle Cutting

Cooperative Extension

Last week wrapped up the final 2014 Piedmont Farm School class. I have to say that it was an amazing finale for the 2014 graduates. If you have been riding the fence on whether to attend the 2015 Southern Piedmont Farm School, maybe this article can help make your decision.

This past Thursday, we celebrated three years of the Piedmont Farm School at the gorgeous Morgan Ridge Vineyards, hosted by owner Amie Baudoin. Baudoin provided the expertise for the school participants who were interested in starting a vineyard. The tour was excellent, along with the scrumptious local meal prepared by Morgan Ridge Vineyards Chef Jason Nain.

Part of the Farm School teaches new and transitioning farmers how to run a farm operation, as well as show the different types of farms within a region. This program has helped the hundreds of graduates from the NC Farm Schools decide what they want their farms to be or become. Most of the participants are individuals or families who are looking to add something to their current operation or have recently inherited or purchased land and are unsure what to do with the property. The 2015 Southern Piedmont Farm School can help you do just that.

The school is a seven-month program with evening business classes where participants learn from current farmers as well as seasoned professionals and get locally sourced snacks. One of the best treats is getting to visit local farms monthly and having a local meal.

If that is not enough to get you to enroll, maybe some information from the recent graduates will.

Father-daughter team Chip and Kathryn Webb of Vine and Fig Tree said the farm school provided invaluable help in growing their operations. The Webbs have a test garden in Forsyth County, several acres of fruit trees, and muscadine vines near Tyro in Davidson County. They also have a historic farm near Churchland in Davidson County, where George Washington ate breakfast in 1791. The experience also helped them get to know the extension agents in each of the three counties.

Chip Webb said, “Farming is a multi-disciplinary enterprise. And, we have delighted in learning from some of the brightest and best teachers from North Carolina State University and our extension educators.”

New farmers, like husband-wife team Al and Linda Hutchinson, who just recently bought some farmland after receiving the Farm School as a gift, said, “It was the best Christmas present ever!” Al and Linda are planning to start Wild Kitchen Garden Farm that will provide old-fashioned herbs, fruit, flowers and veggies.

Mike and Jenny Tate from Forsyth County are developing Rebecca Knoll Farms in which they are growing highly nutritious crops to provide to the less fortunate. Mike said, “After 30 years in business, I had a voice telling me to do something agriculture, and this school helped put us in the right direction.”

The 2015 Southern Piedmont Farm School is a unique opportunity that is being held at your local Cooperative Extension office in Rowan County (2727 Old Concord Road). Business classes are held on the second Thursday of the month from 6–9 p.m. in Rowan County. If you would like more information on the Southern Piedmont Farm School, visit: http://rowan.ces.ncsu.edu/wpcontent/uploads/sites/9/2014/09/DOC090414.pdf, or call your local Cooperative Extension agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.

For more information on tours or dining at Morgan Ridge Vineyards, visit: http://www.morganridgevineyard.com/.

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