Category Archives: What’s Happening

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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9/13 All Farm Things

With the first day of fall just around the corner, fields are getting prepped for a new fall planting! Hurricane Irma sent some additional rain our way (but fortunately not much else), so everyone is drying out and moving on with production. Look forward to lettuces, brassicas, fennel, carrots, radishes, turnips, rutabaga– and so much more! collards tomatoes.jpgPictured are collards and tomatoes hardening off outside of the greenhouse before planting (to avoid transplant shock). 

It may be too early to bring out your sweaters! We had a week of cooler temps, but it seems like the 80’s are coming back (gratefully, sans sweatbands and leotards). So while you may not want to pack away your shorts and T’s yet, the appearance of pumpkins in this weeks CSA remind us that it will soon be time to get ready for costumes, candy, and delicious new recipes. But for now, continue exploring trying new things with peppers and eggplant! Or slice ’em and roast ’em again and again. Simple can be sweet.

pumpkinsPumpkins present in this weeks CSA

Indoors, in the Sustainable Ag classroom, students continued learning about the principles of propagating by cuttings– considering such things as the time of year it is, the health of the plant, and the ideal growth stage.

In the selected topics course, class has been reviewing all things trees– from IDing, to creating agroecosystems, to learning the importance of urban forestry. Guest speakers Tony Mayer, Ben Bergmann, and Barbara Fair shared their expertise and love of trees. There is now less mystery about what is an odd bipinnately compound leaf structure– another Jeopardy question solved. (post by Laura Maule)

leaf-structuresImage from here: http://www.tuninst.net/MP-TAXON/criteria/criteria.htm

Post By Laura Maule

Boxes are ready for pickup

We begin the 3rd season with remnants of summer, place holding for the anticipated Fall Brassica bunches. The boxes include 14 items, all for your enjoyment and well being.

Please note: Yellow Cipollini (Chip-oh-lee-nee), meaning “little onions” are not great storage onions and will not keep for long. Johnny’s Selected Seeds recommends roasting these tiny treasures whole, in butter or oil.

Here is a list of the CSA produce:

Bananas

Holy Basil

Beets

Carrots

Eggplant

German Stiffneck Garlic

Hungarian wax peppers

Jalapeños

Okra

Parsley (flat leaf or curly)

Potatoes (huckleberry)

Red chilies

Sweet peppers

Yellow Cipollini Onions

Look what is coming this Fall to CCCC Sustainable Farming!

Non-credit options for courses that can help increase your skills and understanding of topics integral to a successful farming business.

Call 919-545-8044 or 919-718-7500 to register or register online at http://www.cccc.edu/ecd/find-classes/

Look under “Agriculture and Natural Resources” for:

Tractors and Farm Machinery C-3160

Practical, hands-on course focused on farm machinery and agricultural equipment. Topics include selection and operation of tractors & implements, fencing, hand-tools and irrigation systems appropriate for a small-scale diversified farm. Upon completion, students should be able to explain the basic principles of equipment operation and management. Andrew McMahan, Thursday, 8/17/17 to 12/13/17, 9am-12:40. $175.55

Organic Crop Production C-3161

This course will present the fundamentals of organic vegetable growing and offer hands-on training in the most important skills involved. Grow, harvest, and utilize a variety of vegetables organically, learn about irrigation installation and season extension structures. Focus is on Fall crops, for planting and for harvest. Cheryl McNeill, Monday, 8/21/17 to 12/11/17, 9am-12:40. $175.55

From Seed to Plant C-3162

Practical, hands-on course focused on the techniques and environment for successful plant propagation. Emphasis is placed on seed propagation and other propagation techniques including: grafting, stem and root propagation, micro-propagation. Upon completion, students should be able to successfully propagate useful plants for farm and orchard. Robin Kohanowich, Tuesday, 8/22/17 to 12/12/17, 8:30am to 12:20. $175.55

To Register call 919-545-8044 or 919-718-7500. Space is limited, call soon!

Tomatoes Galore

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We are in the middle of North Carolina tomato season. Look for Cherokee Purple and Cherokee Green tomatoes for a variation on the more common red tomatoes. 

The CSA box this week has:

Rattlesnake Pole beans

Sweet peppers

Shishitos

Jalapeños 

Cucumbers 

Garlic 

Beets

Carrots 

Potatoes 

Sweet corn

Parsley 

Italian Basil

Don’t forget to take a purple cabbage and some cherry and sliced tomatoes.

 

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Shaquannah and Jaime clean sweet corn in the Pack Shed.

 

 

Yes, Your (Purple) Majesty

Look for Purple Majesty potatoes in the CSA boxes this week. These antioxidant-rich potatoes are purple on the inside and out.

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Please note that the garlic has already been divided into cloves this week. It has been cured, but the rainy weather has negatively impacted the durability of the garlic requiring that it been broken up to salvage.

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This week’s box includes:

Cucumbers

Summer squash

Rattlesnake Pole Beans

Shishito peppers

Winter squash

Chard

Jalapenos

Summer greens (Purslane, Dandelion, and Nasturtiums)

Copenhagen or Capture cabbage

Ichilleum Red garlic

Carrots

Beets

Purple Majesty potatoes

Purplette onions

Kohlrabi

Parsley

Cilantro

Basil

Mint

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Crazy about carrots…

Our first spring carrot harvest has arrived. The strawberries are ripe and delicious again this week, and a massive kohlrabi awaits our CSA patrons.

 

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This week you will find the following items in the CSA box:

Broccoli

Beets

Carrots

Kohlrabi (Don’t forget to grab one)

Chard

Collards

Kale

Bulb Fennel

Napa cabbage

Strawberries (Don’t forget to get a quart)

Garlic Scapes

Cilantro

Dill

Parsley

Basil!

 

 

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