Category Archives: Student Testimonials

CCCC Sustainable Agriculture program graduates talk about the value of the program to their lives now.

Sustainable Ag Classroom Happenings

Social Media Down on the Farm

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Through the courses in the Sustainable Agriculture program here at CCCC students are exposed to a broad variety of topics and experiences that will well prepare them to go on to work on a sustainable farm, work in a food co-op, or be a part of the management of a farmers market.  We learn how to propagate plants using multiple methods, we learn how to harvest and wash fresh vegetables for packing CSA boxes; we learn how to budget, plan and schedule at a crop level as well as for a whole farm.  We learn how to drive a tractor, assemble a drip irrigation system and how to safely use a chain saw to cut down a tree.  We learn how to take soil samples, interpret the resulting analysis and properly amend the soil in a manner that enhances its goodness and health as the seasons go by.  All of these are good and necessary elements of the body of knowledge one must assimilate to become a sustainable farmer.  But there is also a deeper level of learning and mentoring woven throughout the program that helps us learn how to be good stewards, to care for the land and our planet’s future, and the importance of being part of a community and giving back to those around us.

 

The Student Becomes the Teacher

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This afternoon, the fall Agricultural Marketing class was the recipient of a great “gift”, given back by Central Carolina Community College Alumni Angie Blomer. Angie is a former student in the Sustainable Agriculture program and completed her Degree in Sustainable Agriculture in 2014.

Angie was invited to return to campus here in Pittsboro by our instructor Robin Kohanowich to speak with the class about social media fundamentals and the role of social media as part of an overall marketing plan.

Since graduating in 2014 Angie has used social media extensively. First to build an online following for Good Foods Growers Market, a local food market she started up in Kernersville; then in her work with the Forsyth County local foods council, and currently at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market in her role as Local Business Coordinator.

Good Learnings

 

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For an introduction Angie walked us through the current social media platforms and the demographics and common uses for each platform, helping us understand what types of activities might make sense to employ on each platform.  As the afternoon class time passed, Angie shared the fundamental elements of a small business social media program and some of the key things she has found important to pay attention to in implementing a social media program. Her presentation was interspersed with periods of lively discussion as class members had the opportunity to ask questions and share their observations and experiences in using social media.

The discussion that occurred later in the afternoon on how to develop a social media plan was most helpful for me as Angie provided the class some wise, but very easy to understand advice on getting started:

  • Define and be clear about your goals for social media before you begin
  • Define and understand who you are trying to reach, their demographics and which social media platform(s) they typically use
  • Define your “voice” and how you will address your audience before you begin and then be consistent with your messaging “voice” across platforms and through time to your audience
  • Understand the time required to properly execute your plan, and devote the time needed consistently each week to work your plan as you build your social media presence

Angie’s presentation and discussion on social media was wonderful, engaging and easy to understand.  Our entire class participated in the discussion with lots of good questions asked and answered.  In the end, it ended up being one of the best classes of the semester (so far)!

The Most Impressive Thing…

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Here we were in a lively discussion on the merits of each social media platform, and where we think social media seems to be headed as a marketing tool… it was great, invigorating and exciting to think about all of the possibilities.   The comments and questions from around the room were fantastic.  But for me, the most impressive, and encouraging thing was that the class was being taught and the discussion led by someone who was sitting in this very classroom as a student only three years ago!  It is amazing to me how far Angie has travelled in just three years!  Learning of her accomplishments and everything she shared with the class helps me see beyond the daily grind of classes, homework, plantings, and projects.   Her journey helps me realize that our studies and preparations in Sustainable Agriculture may well lead us to some very exciting and fulfilling places as we journey forward at the completion of our studies.  Just as important, Angie’s willingness to come back to campus as a guest speaker speaks volumes to me about the good that comes from being involved in a community and “giving back” to help those around you.

 

By Michael Tate, Reformed Direct Marketer and Farmer in Training

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What’s Happening on the Farm

It seems this winter has been very warm.  So warm, in fact, that I have been a little skeptical whether or not everyone’s fruit trees will set fruit , or if my broccoli will button from a late freeze.  So warm, in fact, that I decided to try a little early outdoor planting of some heartier spring crops like spinach and snap peas to get a head start on the year in my own garden.  More on that later.

The Student Farm at CCCC is currently less busy on harvesting, as there isn’t a whole lot to harvest this time of year, and more busy preparing for spring planting.

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Hoop House A is bustin’ with greens! Spinach, Collards, and Swiss Chard make a delicious braising combo.

Hoop House A is busting with greens, and the kale is starting to bolt from the heat, believe it or not!  That’s okay, kale flowers are one of my favorite snacks.  You really should try some this year if you never have.  They also attract beneficial insects like pollinators and predatory wasps that kill those nasty aphids.

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Beautiful, colorful salad mix in Hoop House South

Hoop House South is growing some beautiful salad mix coming up that is almost ready to harvest.

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Peas trellised and planted; irrigation installed

In Block One, where the winter brassica crops (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.) were planted, are now prepared, bare beds full of potential, and in one of those beds we have peas planted and trellised.  Down on Block 7 the students have been diligent preparing the potato beds.

In the propagation greenhouse, the new brassica transplants for the big spring planting are not quite ready to set out just yet, and need a couple weeks longer.  They are currently spending some of the day outside in the cold frame on warm days to get them hardened off.

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Advanced Crop Production Teacher Cheryl McNeil instructing on the finer techniques of using bed-building hoes

 

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Baby broccoli in the Propagation Greenhouse

There are plans in the works for some new polycarbonate sheeting on the propagation greenhouse to replace the dull sheets that were installed 18 years ago.  Along with fresh plastic will be a few other innovations to improve ventilation, to be announced in a future entry.

Like I stated before, and as you’ve probably noticed, it’s been unseasonably warm this winter.  It doesn’t look like we’ll really get a winter, since Sir Walter Wally saw his shadow. In my own garden in Hillsborough, I decided to bet against the cold ahead of Ol’ Wally and plant a 30-foot row of peas as well as some spinach in mid January.  I know, you probably think I’m crazy.  Don’t worry, I think so, too.  And sometimes, crazy can pay off.  Sometimes, taking a risk can lead to big rewards.  And for me, at least this time, it looks like I might come out on top.  Not trying to, “count my chickens,” but I’ve already got sugar snap peas peaking 2″-3″ out of the ground, and my spinach is over an inch tall, with some true leaves.   I’ve only covered them one night in the three weeks they’ve been in the ground.  Is there really something to this climate change thing, or is it just freak weather?   I’m thinking the former.

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Spinach seedlings in my garden right now, planted mid January

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Sugar snaps already 3 inches tall

 

For further reading on climate change, check out what NASA has to say about it, if you believe them:

http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/ 

-Josh Calhoun, Advanced Crop Production Class

 

To Please🐛

One day I’m going to have a farm. How will I afford or where it will be, I don’t know yet.

What I do know is there will be bird feeders in every corner and flowers that will attract every variety of butterflies, my mother will be pleased.

Plenty of hard work and new skills to be learned, my father will be pleased.

Fresh new veggies and chickens to feed, my nephew will be pleased.

Crisp crunchy bacon and stinky ripened cheese, my brothers will be pleased.

A community well nurtured and healthy, I will be pleased to only please God.

-Zoila

Sustainable Livestock Management and CCCC

Jason Smith, Director, Rock Bottom Ranch
Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES)
“The programs at CCCC have thoroughly prepared me for a career in Sustainable Agriculture.  After attending a few short semesters, I was equipped with the tools, knowledge and networking needed to start and operate my own farm and also launch a successful career in environmental education focusing on sustainable agriculture.  We utilize the curriculum taught in these programs on a daily basis, and often reference materials and information from classes to continually improve the sustainability of our working educational & demonstration ranch”.
Read more about Jason’s work at Rock Bottom Ranch at their blog:
jason smith

Farmer Foodshare and CCCC

Gini Bell – Executive Director – Farmer Foodshare

“The CCCC Sustainable Ag program is well respected around the community and gave me a base of knowledge and credibility for working with local farms. Aside from an invaluable education in sustainable farming, the CCCC ag program opened my eyes to the world of food justice, which set me on my current career path with Farmer Foodshare”.

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Maggie West, Gini Bell and Darin Knapp

Farmer Foodshare provides fresh local food to food insecure community members, while building healthy community food systems. www.farmerfoodshare.org

Peaceful River Farmer

Larry Newlin, Peaceful River Farm, http://www.peacefulriverfarm.com/

“As we were beginning to think about sustainable farming and wanting more knowledge, we were told by a farm leader in the Carolinas that CCCC’s program was among the nation’s leaders.  After taking a number of courses that were extremely relevant to our farm search and getting started and having several staff from the program work for us, I believe it is a top-notch program.  Engaging, knowledgeable, and passionate instructors; excellent and sustainably congruent classrooms; an organically certified teaching farm; and field trips to some of the nation’s top sustainable farms in the South; have helped me get much further up the farming learning curve.”larry