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Danelle Cutting: Farm School Summit a success

Blue skies, bright sun shining, cool weather, more than 120 people, some super awesome Extension agents and Piedmont Research staff can create an awesome NC Farm School Summit.

Just a few weeks ago, Rowan County hosted the second annual NC Farm School Summit at the Piedmont Research Station. The odds were stacked against us but with a great group of staff and agents, we pulled off one of the best programs for new and transitioning farmers.

I have talked in previous articles about the NC Farm Schools, specifically the Southern Piedmont NC Farm School that the Rowan County Extension helps host. This has probably been one of my favorite programs that I have ever worked with, and I truly feel that it is a program that is exactly what Cooperative Extension is all about. The program is a seven-month course, ending with the NC Farm School Summit. The summit is where all five NC Farm Schools get together, do hands-on activities and bond with NC Farm School alumni.

For this year’s summit, we decided to take a new approach and have all of the activities at the Piedmont Research Station. This is a huge change because almost 90 percent of the program was outside, so weather played a large role.

Luckily, the weather was perfect. Participants learned about honeybees from local beekeepers Randy Cox and Bryan Fisher. They also had hands-on experience with irrigation, poultry housing with Lee Menius from Wild Turkey Farms, pasture management, high tunnel production and marketing, to name a few.

All of this was done at the Piedmont Research Station, where participants could see everything being used and actually touch and work with the material. This was definitely better than any in-class project.

All of these programs are vital to the continuation of our local farmers, and they need all of the help and expertise we can offer them, so that farming can remain a viable career in the future.

On top of all the production courses, we also had a farm safety demo with a tractor being rolled over to show the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt and driving a tractor without a roll bar.

The participants also met with more than 17 sponsors, including Farm Bureau, Certified Safe Farm, Soil and Water, Farm Service Agency and many more. Some of the sponsors even gave live demos of their products. All in all, I think it was a pretty awesome day.

A lot of hard work went into the program, so a huge thanks goes out to all of the agents and Piedmont Research Station staff. Without them, the summit would not have been such a huge success. The moral of this story is to be appreciative of what Rowan County has, thank a farmer, and help support our agriculture industry.

If you are interested in the Southern Piedmont NC Farm School or NC Farm Schools in general, please contact your local cooperative Extension agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970, or visit the website, www.ncfarmschool.com.

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