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CFSA's Grower's Toolbox
Dear Farmer,

As the spring ephemerals surge and the returning foliage reminds most of us why we adore shades beyond brown, gray, and beige, farmers already have one boot in springplanting and harvesting hearty roots and leafy greensand the other deeply plunged into summer crop planning and seeding.

As you ready your wash stations for another season, we're here to remind you about post-harvest handling considerations in this month's Expert Tip.

This month, we're shaking things up and kicking off the first in a series of video Expert Tips! We're eager for you to get to know our staff, plus some topics are simply easier to show than tell, so we're sharing a mix of written and video tips over the next year. First up is Trish's tip on post-harvest handling water use on crops (below). Proper handling of your products improves product quality and shelf-life, plus it gives consumers and wholesale buyers more investment in your on-farm growing practices.

Beyond that, this edition includes:
  • An exciting article on new disease-resistant cucurbit varieties for farmers.
  • A brand new vermicomposting manual for mid- to large-scale growers.
  • A grant alert from Leonard-Mobley Small Farms Fund.
  • Is the 2019 Piedmont Farm Tour for you? Find out how farmers can plug-in.
  • Last call on apply for RESEED funds.
  • We're hiring! Deadline alert on our Lomax Coordinator position.

Karen McSwain, CFSA's Director of Farm Services and Food Systems

Last Call: We're Hiring a Lomax Farm Coordinator


In case you haven't seen this opportunity, we want to make sure to sound the alarms that Friday is the last day to apply for the Lomax Farm Coordinator listing.

For further detail, peep the full-time job post.

Expert Tip: Post-Harvest Water Use on Fresh Produce

How can you reduce spoilage and shrinkage when washing fresh fruits and vegetables post-harvest?

This video provides tips on implementing best practices when washing produce to include the proper use of sanitizers to maintain sanitary water and provides guidance on the implementation of a monitoring program during the wash process. 


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

Organic Plant Breeding Yields Superior Varieties for Cucurbit Growers

By Kiki Hubbard, Organic Seed Alliance  | Monday, Mar. 25, 2019 -

Farmers looking for disease-resistant cucurbits now have more choices thanks to the release of new cucumber and melon varieties by Cornell University—the result of years of research by public plant breeders and organic farmers. These varieties are a result of participatory breeding efforts focused on cucurbits most in need of improvement and exhibit exceptional resistance to evolving diseases as well as production and culinary characteristics important to organic farmers.

“Our approach to plant breeding involves a close collaboration with farmers, regional seed companies, and other researchers to test varieties in the environment of their intended use,” says Michael Mazourek with the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell University. “In the case of these cucurbit varieties, they were all bred with the needs of organic farmers in mind."

Continue reading Kiki's article over on our blog.


NC Grant Alert: Leonard-Mobley Small Farms Fund

The Leonard-Mobley Small Farms Fund is seeking small-scale farmers in Franklin, Nash, Chatham, Person, Granville, Halifax, Durham, Wake, Wilson, Vance,  and Warren Counties, including women in agriculture, to apply for a $5,000 grant to assist with projects such as development or expansion of new sources of agricultural income on their farm.

Deadline: Apr. 12, 2019. 

The grant will be awarded Sept. 8, 2019, at the 6th Annual Dinner in the Meadow farm-to-fork feast held at Meadow Lane Farm near Louisburg. The dinner showcases local foods prepared by 12 North Carolina chefs and proceeds will benefit the fund.
Last Call for Funds to Help with Hurricane Damage

Did you lose crops, livestock, equipment, or buildings in last year's hurricanes? The deadline to apply for a low-interest loan through CFSA's RESEED Recovery Fund ends Mar. 31, 2019.

In a nutshell, you can apply for any amount from $2,500 to $10,000, and the term of the loan is up to one year at 1% interest. Repayment of the loan is due in one lump sum at the end of the one-year term.
2019 Piedmont Farm Tour Passes + Instagram Takeover

As some of you know, we partner with Weaver Street Market to put on the biggest sustainable agriculture farm tour in the U.S. each April.

In exactly one month, we'll kick off the 2019 tour! If you're able to get away, we recommend getting a pass now to visit any one of these 40+ farms around the Piedmont. This is a great chance to get out, see what your peers are up to, and even take a carload of your workers, apprentices, or interns to explore the practices of many farms in a two-day stretch. One car, regardless of how many people are inside, is $30 for the whole weekend - so load up!

And if you can't get away, we still have your back. More than 20 of the participating farm tour farms will have a day for our #farmtourtakeover between Apr. 3 - Apr. 25 where they'll takeover CFSA's Instagram account. They'll post 5-7 photos/videos of what a day in the life on their farm is like, including growing methods and animal care practices. Tune in for the virtual tour!

Writing the Book on Vermicomposting
We're stoked to share that Rhonda Sherman, NC State Extension specialist in the university’s Department of Horticultural Science (and 2018 Sustainable Agriculture Conference presenter!) has published, The Worm Farmer’s Handbook.

Why is this special? The Worm Farmer’s Handbook is “the first and only authoritative how-to guide that goes beyond small-scale operations and demystifies the science and logistics of the fascinating process that is vermicomposting.”

Plus, Sherman has 25 years of experience working with commercial worm growers across the globe.



USDA Harmonized GAP Standards Workshop
Wednesday, Mar. 27 | Asheville, NC

USDA Harmonized GAP Standards Workshop
Thursday, Apr. 18 | Newton, NC

24th Annual Piedmont Farm Tour
Saturday, Apr. 27 - Sunday, Apr. 28, 2019 | Piedmont Region, NC

USDA Harmonized GAP Standards Workshop
Thursday, May 9 | Asheville, NC

Save the Date
Registration to come!

Conservation Resources Workshop
Tuesday, May 21 | Greenville, NC

Conservation Resources Workshop
Wednesday, May 22 | Elizabeth City, 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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