Small Farms Week 2024 Explores “New Paths to Profits”

11/27/2023 College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

Joyce Martin Bowden, center, and Jeannette Martin Horn (holding clock) celebrate their attaining the Small Farmers of the Year title surrounded by their family and Wayne County Cooperative Extension agent.

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Nov. 27, 2023) – New niche crops, ethnic foods and multicultural food traditions are all on the menu for the 38th annual Small Farms Week, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s annual tribute to small-scale agriculture. Set for March 24-30, 2024, the week’s theme is “New Paths to Profits.”

“The agriculture landscape is changing. Consumers are interested in exploring multicultural food traditions and new niche products. That interest offers opportunities for our farmers,” said Fletcher Barber, Ed.D., Extension small farms recruiter and chair of Small Farms Week 2024. “Our goal is to help small farmers make the most of new markets and crops while adopting sustainable practices that protect their land and their ability to adapt as our climate becomes more variable.”

Small Farms Week 2024 logoSmall Farms Week 2024 will include educational programs, panel discussions, tours and the unveiling of a new Small Farmer of the Year. All events will be in-person, with most taking place at the N.C. A&T University Farm Pavilion, 3020 McConnell Road.

The week will begin with a kickoff event Monday, March 25, in Wayne County, the home of 2023 Small Farmers of the Year Jeannette Martin Horn and Joyce Martin Bowden of J&J Martin Produce. Since 2019, the sisters have grown a wide variety of produce – including green beans, mustard and turnip greens, squash, onions, tomatoes, pecans and their signature field peas – on 100 acres of their century farm. The sisters’ ancestor, a soldier in the 135th U.S. Colored Infantry, bought the land after the regiment was “mustered out” in 1865, making their land a Century Farm.

“The Martin sisters are a perfect example of the heart and soul of farming in North Carolina,” said M. Ray McKinnie, Ph.D., Extension administrator and associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. “Their land has been in the family for more than 150 years, and they not only grow, they give back to their community by hosting groups and encouraging them to learn about agriculture and farming.

“Our 2024 Small Farmer of the Year, whoever that may be, will exemplify these same characteristics that make family farms so important to our agricultural economy,” he added.

On Tuesday, March 26, Small Farms week will focus on education for small farmers that cover topics such as small-scale animal production, plant production, natural resource management and adapting to climate changes that could bring more droughts, severe storms and intense summer heat.

Wednesday March 27 will feature one of the highlights of Small Farms Week: The Small Farmers’ Appreciation Program, where the 2024 Small Farmer of the Year will be named. Thursday, March 28 and Friday, March 29 will offer more educational sessions and demonstrations, emanating from the university or other organizations within North Carolina that highlight farming best practices, research results or student-led agricultural and environmental activities benefitting small farmers.

Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T launched Small Farms Week in 1987 as a way to connect with small-scale farmers — including minority farmers and those in limited-resource communities — and ensure they receive the latest research-based information on farming techniques, new tools and technologies.

Small Farms Week also recognizes small-scale growers for the essential role they play in the state’s economy and gives the public a chance to meet their agricultural neighbors and learn about farm operations and food production.

Most Small Farms Week events are free and open to the public. A registration form and a full schedule of events will be posted on the Small Farms Week website in early 2024. Visit the site for updates and more information.

Media Contact Information: llbernhardt@ncat.edu

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