KENANSVILLE – The N.C. A&T State University spotlight was on two small farmers, including Duplin County’s Theordore Williams who was among the featured successes in their annual report “Solutions for North Carolina.”
A Bladen County farm couple who manage more than 315 acres of pine forest and produce wood products from it, are the 2012 N.C. Small Farmers of the year. Albert and Ada Beatty, along with their daughter Sonya Beatty, operate as AA&S Farms Inc., which was honored earlier this year in ceremonies at N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro. A&T officials also honored participants of the Solutions for North Carolina annual multimedia report, during in a special reception before the luncheon feting small farmers. Participants from Duplin County included farmer Theodore Williams, as well as James Harstfield, area agent, and Duplin County Cooperative Extension director Wanda Clay.
The Beattys run a diverse small farm that includes the forestland, as well as 73 acres of vegetable and animal production. Their Harrells farmstead includes two confined swine barns, each designed to nurture 1,530 feeder pigs, as well as 30 head of cattle and goats. Their sustainability practices include pumping nutrient waste from the swine unit to use in fertilizing cattle pastures – an irrigation method that reduces the farm’s use of commercial fertilizer. Rotational grazing of the goats also helps reduce the amount of weeds on the farm and therefore the amount of chemicals needed for weed control.
The Cooperative Extension Program at A&T, which sponsors the annual Small Farms Week recognition ceremonies, also introduced the Beatty’s to plasticulture. By growing crops on plastic mulch with drip irrigation, the Beatty’s have been able to significantly increase their vegetable production for earlier yields, longer seasons and increased income.
Long-time area farm management agents, Nelson Brownlee of Bladen County Cooperative Extension, and James Hartsfield of Sampson County Cooperative Extension, have worked through the years helping the Beatty’s on various production initiatives.