|North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is the nation’s largest historically black university, ranked number one among public HBCUs by U.S. News & World Report. It is a land-grant, doctoral high-research classified university by the Carnegie Foundation and constituent member of the University of North Carolina system. A&T is known for its leadership in producing graduates in engineering, agriculture and other STEM fields. The university was founded in 1891 and is located in Greensboro, North Carolina.|
|N.C. A&T to Celebrate Small Farms Week March 24-30
EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Feb. 11, 2019) – The powerful legacy behind North Carolina’s small farms – and their swift movement toward the future – is the inspiration for Small Farms Week 2019. Featuring workshops, farming demonstrations, tours and more, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s annual tribute to small-scale agriculture will be held March 24-30, 2019.
|With the theme “Deep Roots, Bright Futures,” the 33rd Small
Farms Week pays tribute to the crucial role that small farms
play in North Carolina’s $84 billion agriculture industry – of
the state’s 52,000farms, more than 80 percent are considered
small – and the innovative ways that farmers are tapping into
trends and adapting to change in the agriculture industry.
Events continue March 26-28 on A&T’s campus with workshops and demonstrations, including informational sessions about season extension, the lessons learned from Hurricane Florence and farming industrial hemp, which has the potential to become a major cash crop for North Carolina growers. A highlight of the week will be the Small Farmers’ Appreciation Luncheon on March 27, at which Simmons will pass his crown to the new, 2019 Small Farmer of the Year.
Simmons and his wife, Laurita, are among the growers who have embraced the farming trends of the future. On their farm near Kenansville, the Simmonses practice niche pork production, which allows small farmers to get premium prices by raising pigs outdoors. The farm also has an on-site general store that sells pork and a variety of other locally grown products.
“America is becoming more aware and concerned about with it’s consuming and feeding its kids,” Simmons said, upon winning the award. “We saw an opportunity.”
The Simmons’ general store is a nod to another trend – opening farms to visitors. Dubbed “agritourism,” the trend of selling merchandise and food products made on the farm, giving tours and allowing visitors to participate in farm chores has become an educational way to provide farmers with a substantial new source of income – $17 million statewide in 2012, according to the N.C. Department of Agriculture.
The keynote speaker at the luncheon will be A&T alumnus and rocket scientist Howard Conyers, Ph.D. The son of small farmers, Conyers’ digital PBS show, “Nourish,” highlights food, culture and science across the South. Now a resident of New Orleans with his wife Kathryn, Conyers works on systems used to test and support the RS-25 rocket engine at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi but has never strayed far from his farming background.
A native of Paxville, South Carolina, Conyers helped his family grow corn, soybeans and an heirloom variety of sweet potato. He majored in bioenvironmental engineering at A&T, which allowed him to join his interests in engineering and agriculture. He went on to earn his master’s and doctorate in mechanical engineering from Duke University.
Now, along with his work for NASA, Conyers nurtures the farmers of the future by serving on the board of the Grow Dat Youth Farm in New Orleans, a program that encourages young people through the work of growing food.
“What I learned on the farm laid a great foundation for what I do today,” Conyers says. “I’m really thankful for my experience on a farm. Small farmers have a special place in my heart.”
held this year March 19-25. Scheduled 4-6 p.m., Three teams of four students, each equipped with blender, microwave, griddle and a cornucopia of fresh, local foods from which to choose, will take up a prominent place in the dining room to make one entrée and one dessert. Thursday, March 23, the cooking competition is also a fun way to involve students in Small Farms Week, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s annual celebration of small-scale agriculture, held this year March 19-25. For the current generation of college students, the serious message behind the fun activity is an especially timely one: type 2 diabetes, certain heart ailments and high cholesterol are just some of the conditions on the rise in populations their age. Video
|Agricultural Hall of Fame to Induct New Members April 5
EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (March, 5, 2019) – Two key leaders in North Carolina agriculture have been selected for induction into the Agricultural Hall of Fame at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University based on their outstanding contributions to agriculture and their significant ties to the university.
James Carlton Kearney Sr. of Henderson, and Samuel J. Dunn, Ph.D. of Whitsett, will join the 15 Hall of Famers whose activities and research have elevated the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES) as a leader in agricultural research and outreach.
The induction ceremony, including dinner and the unveiling of the new members’ portraits, will take place at 5:30 p.m., Friday, April 5, in the N.C. A&T Student Center ballroom. The event is open to the public and costs $25. Please contact Alphanie McCall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-285-4701, to RSVP. The invitation is available online.
“It’s an honor for us to recognize these two extremely worthy recipients,” said CAES Dean Mohamed Ahmedna, Ph.D. “Theirexemplary work sets a high bar for those of us who follow. They are role models, for all they have done for North Carolina agriculture and for N.C. A&T.”
Kearney served the USDA for 37 years in the federal farm housing and rural development programs, working at the local, state and national levels. He was also state director for rural development and is the recipient of North Carolina’s highest honor, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. He has spent 36 years in the profession.
Dunn, a chairperson of the Department of Plant Science and Technology at A&T for more than 30 years, oversaw the department’s transition from a technology-oriented program to a research-intensive one. He also developed master’s degrees for the department and laid the foundation for the university’s accreditation in both the biological engineering and landscape architecture programs. He has spent 43 years in the profession.
The Agricultural Hall of Fame showcase is located in the lobby of B.C. Webb Hall on the university campus. Those who wish to view it may do so after the presentation.