Extension Announces AgVentures Grant Winners

Photo of a portion of a grapevine

As winners of the 2019 N.C. AgVentures cost-share grants, 34 North Carolina farmers will receive funding to help grow, diversify or implement new entrepreneurial plans in their operations or communities this year.

Whether expanding a honey-processing operation in Winston-Salem, increasing mushroom production in Stoneville, or converting tobacco greenhouses into hemp houses in Dunn, these and 31 other innovative individuals across the state will benefit from these grants in important ways.

The AgVentures program – which strengthens agriculturally dependent families and communities by providing support and funding directly to North Carolina farm operators – is administered by NC State Extension’s Jackie Murphy Miller, the program coordinator.

“We have just completed our fifth round of grant awards, and each year we are amazed and inspired by the project proposals that are submitted,” Miller said. “All of the funding is provided by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, and with their support NC State Extension has been able to help 121 farmer families grow their operations.”

Over the last five years, the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Commission has contributed $1.12 million to dedicated North Carolina farmers.

“Partnerships with programs like AgVentures are extremely beneficial,” said William Upchurch, executive director of the NCTTFC. “AgVentures gets down to the grassroots and is an excellent partner for us.”

While the grants are relatively small, ranging from $2,000 up to $10,000, Upchurch said they may be just enough to help a farmer transition to another crop or market, try something different and survive into the future.

Farmers are dealing with many challenges: mother nature, tariffs and falling prices. New ideas and directions can mean so much for so many people.

“When farmers are successful that turns over into surrounding areas,” Upchurch continued. Their successes can increase demand for products such as fertilizer, seeds and chemicals, tools, equipment or heavy machinery. “All these factors help rural communities stay viable,” he said. “Farmers are dealing with many challenges: mother nature, tariffs and falling prices. New ideas and directions can mean so much for so many people.”

Funds for this grant from the commission derive from the Master Settlement Agreement negotiated in 1998 by attorneys general from 46 states with four of the country’s largest tobacco manufacturers.

The grant opportunity is available in Duplin, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Greene, Guilford, Harnett, Johnston, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Pitt, Rockingham, Sampson, Stokes, Surry, Wayne, Wilson and Yadkin counties.

To learn more about N.C. AgVentures and the impact it has on family farms and communities, visit https://agventures.ces.ncsu.edu/.

Individual farm winners of 2019 N.C. AgVentures grants by county

Duplin

Hugh Miller, who along with his son raises pastured pork at H&H Farms in Pink Hill, will use his grant to enclose a metal building for meat processing and a freezer.

Edgecombe

Chauncey Leggett of Lake Valley Farms in Tarboro runs a small-scale organic farm using sustainable permaculture methods. She’ll use her grant money to install an irrigation system.

Forsyth

Drew and Claire Parrish of Heritage Harvest Farms in Winston-Salem will increase their honey processing equipment and expand the processing line.

Emma and Elliot Seldner of Fair Share Farm LLC in Pfafftown produce greens, roots, garnish and other specialty items. They will build a small high tunnel.

Guilford

Bobby Roberts of R&R Farms in Browns Summit will build an in-field hemp decorticator.

Charles Williamson of Williamson Farm in Gibsonville, which grew tobacco for two generations and recently transitioned to organic vegetables, will use his grant to build a walk-in cooler.

Lindsey and Robert Poe of Poe Family Farm in Liberty focus on pasture-raised poultry and free-range chicken eggs. They will build a new processing area.

Harnett

Joe Johnson of Heritage Hemp Farms in Dunn will convert tobacco greenhouses into hemp houses.

Brian Cameron, owner of Barbecue Creek Berry Co. in Sanford, will use his grant to transition from tobacco to strawberries.

Curt Honeycutt of Curt Honeycutt Farms, LLC in Angier will purchase a corral/working facility for his cattle operation.

The William E. Boyd Family Limited Partnership in Broadway will create a silvopasture production system.

Johnston

Don Lee of Garrett Wildflower Seed Farm in Smithfield, which sells grass and wildflower varieties and provides on-site services to establish and restore the prairies common to the southeast hundreds of years ago, will use his funds to purchase a wildflower seed bagger.

Doris and Donald Kidd, owners of Kidd Farm in Selma, grow elephant garlic, potatoes, herbs, flowers and variety of leafy greens. They will use their grant to construct a garlic drying barn.

Lenoir

Gregory Rouse of RNS Farms Inc. in Seven Springs will purchase a spreader for poultry waste.

Nash

Peyton McDaniel of Hickory Meadows Organics in Whitakers will use his grant to buy a non-GMO seed cleaner.

Ben and Angela Byrd of Lakeview Pecans Inc. in Bailey, which annually produces 8,000 trees and 20 varieties of pecans, will to use their funds for a greenhouse expansion.

Kelvin Bass will use his grant to purchase a cold storage container for organic produce at The Bass Farm in Nashville.

Rockingham

Jeremy and Stesha Warren of Eliana’s Garden LLC, a forest farm in Stoneville that raises heritage breed pork and cultivates medicinal herbs, gourmet edibles and natural products, will expand their indoor mushroom production and purchase a food dehydrator.

David Stewart of Steward Farm in Stoneville will build a farm storage facility.

Steve Rivers of Rivers Finest in Reidsville will use his grant to expand his blueberry farm with blackberries and valued-add jam.

Sampson

Krystal Tyndall of Autryville will use her grant to repair and improve an old mobile packing line.

Stokes

April and Steven Robertson of Robertson Family Farm in King, which sells strawberries and summer vegetables, straw bales and angus beef, will apply their award to the purchase of an irrigation motor and greenhouse renovations.

Surry

Kyle Montgomery plans to build an energy-efficient greenhouse to grow seedlings on York Farm in Mt Airy, which operates a community supported agriculture program, contributes vegetables wholesale to restaurants and stores, and runs an on-farm store.

Renee Westmorland of Sleepy Creek Farms in Mount Airy will build a structure for lambing.

Wayne

Vernon and Jennifer Britt of C. E. Britt Farms and Carolina Nut Cracker in Mount Olive, land which has been farmed continuously since the 1600s, will purchase a pellet machine and hammer mill.

John Tart III of Goldsboro wants to build a facility for the sorting, packing and storage of pecans.

Wilson

Kate Sullivan of Sullivan Farms Inc in Lucama, a fifth-generation operation that tends some 3,000 acres of sweet potatoes, tobacco, cotton, and other crops spread across Wilson and Johnston counties, and also raises quality show cattle and breeding stock, will purchase a meat cutter and expand marketing.

Frank Scott of Scott Brothers Inc. in Lucama will buy a sweet potato vine shredder.

Tim Webb of Raleigh Road Garden Center in Wilson wants to construct an agritourism recreation facility.

Robert Simpson of Simpson’s Angus Farm in West Lucama will purchase beef cattle feeding equipment.

Yadkin

Anne Cain of Cain Family Farm in Hamptonville will create an agritourism operation by opening her farm to visitors and selling aged cheeses.

Community winners

Pitt

A Pitt Community Grant will allow for the purchase of a cooler to protect produce boxes.

Wilson, Johnston, Pitt

Got To Be NC Livestock Producer Marketing will use their award to develop an online market for heifers, goats and lambs.

Forsyth, Stokes Davidson, Davie, Wilkes, Yadkin, Surry

A Forsyth Community Grant will be used to purchase a small corn planter to use for tests and demonstration.

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