NC Farm School 2021, Moving Forward

— Written By

Amidst pandemic fears of potential insecurity, there is a rise in the reality of the sensitivity of our food supply. While that reality has been highlighted for many shoppers looking for goods in high demand due to bulk or fear related purchases, the stability of our food system is a highlight of the pandemic. Even still, there is an increased interest in purchasing local food. NC Farm School is moving forward in 2021 with the same goal of supporting those looking to add enterprises or start new farms.

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A Farming Community with Business Benefits

NC Farm School benefits those who attend by connecting them to an entrepreneurial community and providing them with key business skills. Those who attend are able to find like-minded farmers to make key business and networking connections.

Christine Tankersley has leveraged her marketing and social media expertise by co-marketing their farm, Sweet T Farm, with the Tustin’s farm, Squashbuckler Farm, on their social media channels. By co-marketing, they have combined their product offerings – one farm offering vegetable produce, the other meat, leveraged their respective networks, and set up a more convenient shopping experience for their community consumers. The idea for their farm originated with husband Travis but Christine fell in love with the idea of a farm and understands her customers’ connection to local food; “I love fresh food and creating meals from local produce and meats. The farm was Travis’s dream that quickly became mine.”

Travis who also attended was able to focus in on those business skills that were key to developing their business idea; “NC Farm School really helped us organize and focus in on a solid plan to progress forward in our farming enterprises. We learned about the agribusiness and enterprise budgets to really know how much it would cost us to raise our animals.”

“NC Farm School really helped us organize and focus in on a solid plan to progress forward..” – Christine and Travis Tankersley, Sweet T Farm, Rougemont, NC

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Keeping Land in Production

NC Farm School is committed to helping those who have land develop enterprises in order to keep land in production. Our students find that they are able to develop their dreams into a full farm business plan to enable success when implementing their ideas. Often, this land would have sold to development or not used for agriculture. Recent graduate Joy Cobb says she was able to take her idea and put it on paper in a meaningful way, “NC Farm School provided me with the tools and support necessary to stop using the spaghetti method to figure out farming. I can do budget sheets that don’t look like the ramblings of a madman on paper.” Joy recognized that this was critical to keeping the commitment to that land that Joy and husband Darryl had made to their family as Joy goes on to say, “His [Darryl’s Father’s] wish was that the land stays in agriculture as opposed to being timbered or turned into a housing development. We made a commitment to Darryl’s Father that we do all we could to keep the farm a farm.”

“NC Farm School provided me with the tools and support necessary…” – Joy Cobb, Providence Farm, Guilford County

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A Hands-On Approach

NC Farm School’s method of helping farmers develop their ideas is hands-on. We emphasize a think-plan-do method by coming out to the farm to show students have on hand and what the next steps are in practical business development. Michael Tustin said, “The on-farm consultation was awesome because it helped me really tie down some of the finer details of my plans and it was great to have people with real-world experience tell me I wasn’t crazy and that my dream was possible.” Michael purchased 30 acres and developed his business plan around a market garden with the goal of expanding and diversifying his farming operation. He was able to connect to extension agents that will continue to help him along the way and be available to stay hands-on as he grows. Michael goes on to say, “The biggest benefit has been getting to know my Extension agents since they are such great sources of information.”

“The biggest benefit has been getting to know my Extension agents since they are such great sources of information.”- Micheal Tustin, Squashbuckler Farmstead, Person County

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