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CFSA's Grower's Toolbox
Dear Farmer,

I hope everyone safely weathered the storms that blew through the Carolinas earlier this month. I know of at least one CFSA farmer-member who experienced severe flooding from the storm, and it saddened me knowing it was not their first major flood, and that it won’t be their last.

Coincidentally, I had a number of conversations earlier this month with folks from various state agencies and institutions about climate change and the impact it is having on our farming community. While we all grapple with how to best support farmers experiencing increases in extreme weather events, one thing many of us agree on is the need for increased investment in conservation practices and programs to enable our farming community to be more resilient to extreme weather.

If you are a farmer, please consider signing the Farmer Letter on Climate Change Solutions in Agriculture, which is being circulated by a coalition of farm organizations and their allies around the country. This letter does not endorse specific policies but broadly calls for investments in agricultural solutions to the climate crisis, and your voice is critical in helping make that happen.

In addition to what's below, we want you to know:

Karen McSwain, CFSA's Associate Executive Director for Programs

PS - It was great to see some of you at our 2020 Organic Commodities and Livestock Conference in Raleigh last week. If you're interested in seeing a few photos, check out CFSA's Facebook photos.


Expert Tip: How to Use A Plastic Layer
In the field, having clean raised beds makes planting easier and tender transplants get a great start. One way we do that is by laying plastic as a mulch. At Lomax Farm, CFSA's research and education farm, we love our plastic mulch layer, but it took a few seasons to really get the hang of using it well.

Watch our short video if you're looking for tips and tricks on what we've learned over the seasons on how to use our plastic layer.

Mark Your Calendars
The 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Conference will be Nov. 6-8, 2020!

Want to present a workshop?
Apply for a scholarship?

We'll be sure to share the details here over the next few months. Keep it tuned!

Expert Tip: How to Set-Up Drip Irrigation
Whether you're inside a high tunnel or not, irrigation is key, and drip irrigation is one of our favorite tools. While it's not difficult to lay out and connect all the lines, doing it properly can save you time, effort, and water. 

This video is for you if you're looking to get the hang of drip irrigation.

And if you want more detailed information on irrigation for high tunnels, check out our High Tunnel Irrigation Guide.

Did you know that we've been creating Expert Tips for nearly a decade?
Don't miss our
Expert Tip index!


NRCS Announces EQIP Deadline for FY20 Funding
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced it’s 2020 signup deadline – March 6, 2020 – for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which provides financial assistance to farmers for implementing conservation practices that improve soil, water, and wildlife quality.
  • Examples of conservation practices supported by EQIP that serve crop producers include cover cropping, mulching, drip irrigation, crop rotation, and habitat for beneficial insects. 
  • Examples of practices that serve livestock producers include moveable fencing, pasture improvement, providing water to livestock, preventing soil erosion near watering areas, and a composting facility, to name just a few for each
A Conservation Activity Plan (CAP) is a common way to assess conservation needs and ultimately access EQIP funding, and plans must be developed by a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP). CFSA has a certified TSP on staff to write a particular CAP, called a CAP-138, which is specifically for farmers transitioning to organic production.

If you are transitioning to organic production:
  • Apply to your state’s EQIP program before the March 6 deadline.
  • Once approved, you can apply for technical services through CFSA to have your plan written.
For more information, visit our CAP 138 webpage and contact your local NRCS office.  
Speaking of Cost-Share Opportunities...
Did you know there's an NRCS cost-share program for high tunnels?
Well, there is! Recipients can receive up to 90% of their high tunnel costs refunded (based on a national average). Contact your local NRCS representative or soil and water conservation district for more information.

If you have already been awarded a high tunnel contract but aren't sure where to start, consider applying for CFSA's high tunnel technical assistance! As always, send us your high tunnel questions--no matter what stage of planning or production you're in. 


Saturday, February 29 | Sneads Ferry, NC

Certified South Carolina Grower + Buyer Meetup
Wednesday, March 11 | West Columbia, SC

Caterpillar Tunnel Construction Workshop
Friday, March 13 | Ellerbe, NC

Good Agricultural Practices Workshop
Friday, March 20 | West Columbia, SC

Produce Safety Rule Grower Training
Wednesday, March 25 | Walterboro, SC

Lomax Farm Research Field Day - Save the Date!
Tuesday, May 19 | Concord, NC

Produce Safety Rule Grower Training
Tuesday, June 23 | Sumter, SC

2020 Sustainable Agriculture Conference - Save the Date!
Friday, November 6 - Sunday, November 8 | Durham, NC

Want more? Stay abreast with CFSA events by subscribing to our events-only monthly digest, The Training Ground.
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The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association is on a mission to bring local, organic food to your table from a farmer who shares your values – and we can’t do it without you. Together we are building a regional food system that is good for consumers, growers, and the land.
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