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ESP tours environmental farming center during annual meeting

Cows, calves and hoop houses were among the attractions at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, as North Carolina’s Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi toured the center last month. The tour was part of ESP Xi Chapter’s annual meeting, held over lunch at the extension center in nearby Johnston County.

ESP’s is Cooperative Extension’s professional development organization. As part of this year’s annual meeting, the group wanted to learn about the resources available to extension through CEFS programs. While extension celebrated its centennial this year, CEFS celebrated its 20th anniversary.

The tour opened with an overview of CEFS by Lisa Forehand, CEFS extension and outreach coordinator. Shorlette Ammons, a CEFS staffer based at N.C. A&T State University, described the organization’s food justice initiatives.

The tour group then boarded a bus to visit the CEFS pasture-based dairy, where the herd was welcoming new calves. Steve Washburn pointed out features of the dairy, including a fly vacuum that removes flies from cows as they exit the dairy. It has reduced the number of flies in the herd, and some cows apparently love getting “vacuummed.”

Small Farm Manager Marisa Benzle showed ESP members the small farm, largely dormant in late November. There was an organic broccoli variety trial underway in the fields and a variety of greens in one of the farm’s hoop houses.

After spending time outside in the cold, the tour group was delighted to arrive at Johnston County’s extension center for lunch and awards. New officers were also inducted.

Photos of the tour and award winners are available on the CALS flickr stream.

-N. Hampton