In October, small and part-time farmers and other interested persons had an opportunity to learn about alternative crops and enterprises on the Southeastern North Carolina Alternative Farm Tour sponsored by NC Cooperative Extension with assistance from the Duplin County Center.
Duplin was one of the featured counties with a stop outside Warsaw at John McCoy’s produce and beef cattle farm. He grows a variety of vegetables such as watermelon, peas, okra, pepper, squash, and cucumbers. McCoy currently sells some his produce at the farmers market in Sneads Ferry. In addition, he donates some of his vegetables to the local senior citizens and soup kitchen. Wanda Clay, director of the NCCE Duplin County Center joined the tour and welcomed participants to the county during the stop at McCoy’s farm.
In 2012, through the United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) cost share program, McCoy constructed a high tunnel greenhouse on his farm. This allows him to extend his growing season, and increase profits to his operation, James Hartsfield, NCCE Area Agent for Farm Management in Duplin and Sampson counties, explained during the stop on the McCoy farm.
The educational tour visited farm operations that highlight successful small farmers. Tour participants had an opportunity to visit a number of alternative systems such as utilizing plastic mulch and drip irrigation, high-tunnel greenhouses, pastured pork and poultry production, and vineyard management. Other tour stops were in Robeson, Bladen, and Sampson counties.
Clay and Hartsfield emphasized that through support of the NC Cooperative Extension Program and the NC A&T School of Agriculture and Environmental Science, these alternative and ‘value-added’ enterprises have enhanced the economic opportunities for small and part-time farmers across the state.