Ag tour links farms to food and fiber

During the economic downturn beginning in 2008, many businesses closed their doors, but agriculture at the county, state, and national level has continued to be a leading industry despite the hindrances of a fail- ing economy. This month, elected officials, county boards, and business leaders in Stanly County will get an up-close look at the world of agriculture and how local farms have not only stayed in operation but have continued to be successful, while on the Stanly County Ag Tour. 

Through the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Services of Stanly County, attendees will tour Muddy Boots Farms, Rolling Hills Gin, and Hardy Creek Farms to hear from local farmers on their operations, success, and future endeavors.

The NC Cooperative Extension is a partnership that began in 1914 as an outreach program at N.C. State University for county, state, and federal governments joining together to provide all citizens with access to the wealth of knowledge generated by public universities. The Cooperative Extension provides educational programming in five key areas of sustaining agriculture and forestry, protecting the environment, maintaining viable communities, developing responsible youth, and developing strong, healthy, and safe families.

The mission of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service is to “partner with communities to deliver education and technology that enrich the lives, land, and economy of North Carolina.”

Muddy Boots Farms is a family-run farm located in Millingport and Mount Pleasant that specializes in growing sweet corn and tomatoes along with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Rolling Hills Gin, a New London cotton-ginning operation works in collaboration with other farmers and manufactures across the Carolinas dedicated to growing, making, and selling T-shirts in a dirt- to-shirt process. The third farm on the tour is Hardy Creek Farms located in Norwood. Hardy Creek Farms specializes in Red Angus breed developing high quality, all natural beef.

While on the farms, the farmers will provide a background for their business and yearly process of farming as well as discuss how they have utilized cooperative extension and remained unique to other operations.

“I think it’s important that people know and un- derstand why agriculture is important to our local economy and for future preservation of farm land,” said Lori Ivey, County Extension Director of Stanly County. “Agriculture has done very well even though the economy has not done well. We want our elected office to know and understand the importance of agriculture because they will make decisions that will affect agriculture in the future.”

Each year the N.C. Cooperative Extension hosts an agricultural tour to highlight agriculture within the county. This year the focus is on local foods, local cotton, and local farms.

Approaching the 100th anniversary of educating the public, the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Stanly County has a variety of programs and educational activities for everyone from 4-H Youth Development clubs for children to health and nutrition and home and family programs.

The Farm to Food and Fiber tours will be April 25 assembling at the Agri-Civic center at noon. The tours will be concluded by 5:30 pm. For more information on the N.C. Cooperative Extension, visit the website at stanly.ces.ncsu.edu. 

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