Danelle Cutting: Here’s what I do

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 19, 2016

Cooperative Extension is referred to as the “best kept secret.” Although I partly agree, I don’t believe that it’s the whole truth.

Whenever I am in a group setting and have people ask me what I do I do for a living, sometimes I hesitate because I do such a variety of things. I do not want to give an elevator speech to start the conversation.

So in a nutshell, Cooperative Extension provides education on nutrition, youth and agriculture. In this article, I will focus on my program area to help my readers understand everything that I do for this organization.

My title is horticulture and local food agent. What does that mean? I help anyone from homeowners to growers with gardening (edible and ornamental), farmers’ markets, agriculture and anything concerning local food.

That’s a broad topic, especially when you get down to homeowner lawn issues, insect identification, plant identification, disease identification, pesticides, organic gardening, and the list goes on.

Even though I do not consider myself an expert, I can help you find resources to get the right answer. I cannot tell you how many times that I have had someone say, “I Googled this or that, and I think that it is the most deadly and horrific disease, snake, or insect there is.” I even have people think that they have found an extinct insect/animal/plant. Sometimes they are right but usually, they are not.

Aside from answering phone calls and emails, I am always working on a project. Here are a few I am working on this year: Southern Piedmont NC Farm School, Broccoli Variety Trial, Extension Master Gardener Program and public workshops. That doesn’t include my reporting. Here is a breakdown of each program — maybe you will be interested in joining.

Southern Piedmont NC Farm School is a seven-month program that teaches new and transitioning farms to run their businesses properly. Many farms starting a new venture are not familiar with the business side. Farming businesses are not the same as corporate or small business companies.

This program gives participants the tools they need to succeed. We have more than 300 graduates who can attest to the success. For more information on this program, visit our website at: www.ncfarmschool.com

I could not do the Broccoli Variety Trial without the help of many agents and the staff at the Piedmont Research Station. Our area has not really done a trial of varieties of any fruit or vegetable in years, and growers need to know the varieties that are best. This is the second year of collecting data. Once we have completed the analysis, we will have a workshop in the spring.

Extension Master Gardeners are a huge part of my horticulture program. They are virtually an extension of me. They go through a 17-week training program to learn things from soils to wildlife.

They also aid me in assisting school gardens, demonstration gardens, and educating the public. If you are interested in this program, give me a call. There is much fun to be had as an Extension Master Gardener volunteer.

We have many public workshops throughout the year, educating the public about varieties, trials held at the office (upcoming summer lettuce and tomato trial), how to garden, how to prune, etc.

As I am writing this, I am preparing for our Peach Pruning Workshop. Next week, I will have lots of photos to share. Be sure to tune in to our weekly radio show at 12:10 p.m. on WSAT 1280 AM to hear our program, or read our weekly articles to see details of the workshops.

So that is what I do, in a nutshell, for Cooperative Extension.

If you have questions concerning any of these programs, call your local agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970 or email her at danelle_cutting@ncsu.edu