Women in Ag Fall 2022 Farm Tour

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The regional “Women in Agriculture” (WIA) group began networking again in September, post Covid, with a traveling educational tour of four local food and cut flower operations in Person and Granville Counties on a beautiful Fall day, September 27th. Ag Agent, Martha Mobley, the WIA liaison, organized the tour with the assistance of the Person and Granville County Ag Agent, Johnny Coley.
Woman in Ag Farm Tour participants by MMobley

Dr. Chang Zhou, farm owner with farm tour participants at HuaNong Ecorganic Farm. Contributed photo by Martha Mobley.

A woman owned cut flower operation, Willow Oak Cut Flower Farm, was one stop along the tour route with a variety of tillage practices demonstrated, especially for weed control. Harvest, an Oxford restaurant that only sources its food  directly from local farmers, was the lunch stop was a real treat for everyone. After lunch, the WIA group met with the owners of the dynamic regional bakery, Strong Arm, in downtown Oxford. They started with only one employee pre-Covid and now have over 50 great employees working the Bakery. Due to Covid, Strong Arm began the practice of “porch drops” which has grown tremendously in the past two years. Full blown custom meals are now baked and delivered directly to homes in the Triangle area. They also try to purchase locally directly from the farmer, if applicable.
The highlight of the travel tour was a visit to a quiet, isolated farm in the countryside of Person County near Timberlake, HuaNong Ecorganic Farm, owned and operated full time by Dr. Chang Zhou and his family. As a former plant researcher and plant pathologist in China and with the USDA, he moved to NC several years ago and has exploded onto the local  Triangle food scene with high quality Asian vegetables. Their goal is also to expand into Asian fruits. Incorporating WEEDS as their cover crop in a rotational system and using a pond irrigation drip tape system, the farm is expanding with a variety of delicious and healthy vegetables and melons. They sell out of their products quickly at the two largest farmers markets, all locally grown, in the Triangle. This farm was the grant recipient of the 2022 Leonard-Mobley Small Farm Fund recently during the 7th “Dinner in the Meadow.”
Farmer showing his vegetables on the WIAg Farm Tour by MMobley

Dr. Chang Zhou shows the tour participants his farming methods. Contributed photo by Martha Mobley.

If you are interested in joining the Women in Agriculture networking group, or for more information contact N.C. Cooperative Extensin, Franklin County Center at 919-496-3344, or email Martha Mobley, Ag Agent, at martha_mobley@ncsu.edu. Classroom and tour instructions are their major events.