Celebrating Our Work and Travels to Distant Lands

Fall is beautiful in Eastern North Carolina.  I am loving the cool days, getting to wear layers again, seeing the sun rise every morning, and of course, seeing the leaves change color.  While we are not moving at the pace we were for most of the summer, we’re still keeping busy here on the Small Farm Unit.  A strawberry variety trial began in the newly constructed high tunnel days before it was even completed.  We don’t waste no time ’round here!

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Fall strawberry variety trial will help determine a planting calendar for Eastern North Carolina high tunnel growers

This week our four beef steer were taken off of the farm for market.  While I understand their place in an integrated farming system, I cannot say I will miss building new fencing weekly.  It was a lot of work raising these boys!  And they sure grew up fast.

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Our four beef steer are loaded onto a trailer.

We just celebrated the Center For Environmental Farming Systems’ (CEFS) 20th Anniversary.  Hundreds of people came to the Cherry Research Farm to learn from and celebrate about the work and people that make CEFS great.  The Soilbration! event was a success!

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Dozens of farmers attended Soilbration! tours on the Small Farm Unit.

Last week we all went up to Blacksburg, Virginia to meet with Virginia Tech Civic Agriculture faculty and students, to see the campus Dining Hall Farm, and to visit other farming projects in the area.  Thank you, Marisa Benzle, for organizing a great, educational trip!

Professor Kim Niewolny was a fantastic host, and invited us to attend her undergraduate course in Civic Agriculture.  We got to see the animal husbandry operations on campus, and then had a meet-and-greet with graduate students so that they could learn about what we do here at the Center For Environmental Farming Systems.  The Dining Services farm seems like a unique project, with support from different Departments at VT.  The surrounding campus farmland is just beautiful this time of year.

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Virginia Tech campus in Fall.

We visited Plenty, a food bank outside of Floyd, which also happens to have a farm on site.  Co-Director, Karen Day, and farmer, Jonathan Vandergrift, were also incredibly friendly hosts, greeting us with delicious soup straight from the farm, and a tour of the farm.

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Plenty farmer, Jonathan Vandergrift and Co-Director, Karen Day.

We visited Spikenard Farm, whose mission is to promote sustainable and biodynamic beekeeping through education, experience-based research and a honeybee sanctuary and to help restore the health and vitality of the honeybee worldwide.  Alexander Tuchman gave us a tour of the grounds, which were beautiful—and teeming with bees.

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Alexander Tuchman of Spikenard loves his bees!

As we are in the last two weeks of the apprenticeship, things are winding down for us here.  We wrapped up our community work and are all a bit struck by how quickly the last nine months went by.  Thanks to the Small Farm Unit manager, Marisa Benzle, Mark and Amanda at the Pasture-Based Beef Unit, Horticulture Technician, Kayla Clark, Research Specialist Evan Taylor, Community Foods Systems Outreach Coordinator, Shorlette Ammons, the SWARMers, and my fellow apprentices for making this experience a dynamic learning opportunity!

The Infamous Small Farm Unit Crew in Asheville.

The Infamous Small Farm Unit Crew in Asheville, NC.


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