People, Generations, and Land – NC Farm School Stories

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The real story of N.C. Cooperative Extension is the people of North Carolina coming together for a mission and purpose to make our state a better place. NC Farm School aims to bring together the expertise of Extension agents, NC State Extension, and N.C. Cooperative Extension county resources for the success of program participants in various locations throughout the state. This success is built on generations coming together to farmland in a creative way.Women looking at camera

Near the northern tip of Alamance County, recent NC Farm School graduates Bianca (right center) and Paris Sharpe(right) sit poised to transition onto their grandparents’, Carol and Rudy Evans, 50-acre farm. The property has been in their family for almost 100 years. However, the property had not been farmed on since 1996 when their grandpa harvested his last tobacco crop before retiring.

This dynamic sister duo already had plenty of success prior to NC Farm School. Bianca works as a project manager for Bank of America and Paris, the younger sister recently completed her Master’s in Business Administration. Both Bianca and Paris realized that although they were experts in their current fields, they did not know anything about farming or the business of farming. Seeking a formal instructional experience, they chose to attend NC Farm School. They wanted to fortify their grandparents’ historical and cultural knowledge with NC Farm School’s business training to build a strategic and thoughtful plan to revitalize the family farm. 

“One of the biggest benefits of attending NC Farm School was the network. Besides the people that are teaching the classes, we made friends. I work in the aviation industry… it was really important for me to not only meet the professors, but to see who was farming in the community, what type of businesses they had. We met people who had produce boxes. Some people had 1 acre, others had 20 acres. That helped inform what type of outreach that we needed to do to tap all of those markets. There’s a whole farming community that I don’t know,” admitted Paris. “We want a little plot to do some events, but we want to keep our seasonal crops while doing some experimental crops while we try different things. That [NC Farm School] was incredibly helpful. I now can interact with our local farming community but with some perspective.”

“Honestly, I am really grateful for the amount of time farm management specialist spent at our farm. They gave us ideas and tips that saved us a lot of money such as the electrical fence,” added Bianca. Bianca and Paris still feel like they are at ground zero, but real, executable ideas have formed. “We figured we can put our heads together and improve upon what our grandparents did using new resources,” Paris noted.

NC Farm School wants to help make your farming venture successful in 2024. To learn more about how you can participate visit: 2024 NC Farm School.