|Cleveland County RAFI-USA Project Showcase Tour Saturday, November 19, 2011
|Young farmers are changing the face of Cleveland County agriculture by focusing on specialty crops, value-added products, sustainable and organic production systems, and marketing strategies that help them capture a larger share of the food dollar. Cleveland County’s next generation of farmers will be celebrated on Saturday, November 19.
Beam Family Farm
The RAFI-USA (Rural Advancement Foundation International) Project Showcase Tour will highlight the accomplishments of four local farmers who used cost-share grants to implement projects that have created new sources of agricultural income. Coordinated by NC Cooperative Extension and Tour Cleveland County, the tour targets other farmer who wish to learn from these young entrepreneurs. Local chefs and caterers seeking to source local ingredients, and other local food enthusiasts are also invited to attend. Cost is $20 per person, which includes lunch and motor coach transportation to the showcase farms. Proceeds from the tour will benefit the Foothills Farmers’ Market Shade Pavilion building fund. The tour agenda is detailed below:
11:30 AM: Tour participants meet at Fallston Baptist Church, 109 Circle Drive in Fallston, NC for a delicious home-style luncheon prepared from local ingredients.
12:00 Noon: Feeder Calves to Facebook (Powerpoint Presentation )
Luke Beam is a cattle farmer and vocational agriculture instructor at Burns High School. He is transitioning his family’s traditional feeder calf operation into a farm which now raises “4G Beef” (Guaranteed Grass-Grown
Gelbvieh Beef). Luke markets his specialty beef to area restaurants and farmers’ market customers. Luke used his RAFI-USA grant to develop a Beam Family Farms marketing plan and a beef brand, to conduct regional targeted advertising through Facebook, and to expand his farm infrastructure.
1:05 PM: Sain Farms Upgrade – Washing & Packing Facility
Dustin McMurry grows eight acres of mixed vegetables that he sells at farmers’ markets throughout the region. Previous RAFI-USA grants have allowed Dustin to improve the irrigation system on his family farm and to construct a high tunnel greenhouse. In tune with emerging food safety trends and seeking to attract institutional food buyers, Dustin is working to become Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) certified. With help from this year’s award, Dustin constructed a GAPsapproved washing, packing, & storage facility for his growing produce business.
2:20 PM: High Tunnel Strawberries
John Elmore is a young farmer with just two years of production experience. His ability to produce a yearround supply of fruits and vegetables was limited by Cleveland County’s relatively short growing season. Grant funds allowed John to construct two high tunnel greenhouses for growing winter strawberries. Winter berries will allow John to access year-round markets and capitalize on a high return crop. Imagine eating fresh, local strawberries during the holidays!
3:25 PM: Guernsey Girl Artisan Cheese
Ashley Bridges purchased four head of her family’s dairy herd when they were forced to liquidate their operation last year. She used grant funds to construct a milking parlor on her family’s land, and secured a loan to finance a processing room and creamery. Ashley’s new farmstead cheese operation is fueled by registered Guernsey cows. She makes artisanquality raw milk cheeses along with several fresh pastuerized soft cheeses, which are sold right on the farm and are also available at the Foothills Farmer’ Market in Shelby and the Gastonia Farmers Market.
4:40 PM: Motor coach arrives back at Fallston Baptist Church.
Local products will be available for sale, including grass-fed beef, artisan cheeses, and farm-fresh eggs. Participants wishing to purchase these items should bring a cooler. Several door prizes will also be\ given. Participation is limited to 55 people, and registration and pre-payment is required. To register, visit www.tourclevelandcounty.com or call the Cleveland County Chamber at 704-487-8521 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. weekdays. Later that evening (at 7 p.m.), there will be a screening of “The Greenhorns” at The Don Gibson Theatre in Uptown Shelby. The 50-minute documentary film, completed after almost 3 years in production, explores the lives of America's young farming community - its spirit, practices, and needs. It is the filmmaker's hope that by broadcasting the stories and voices of these young farmers, we can build the case for those considering a career in agriculture - to embolden them, to entice them, and to recruit them into farming. A panel of local farmers will give their reactions to the film and respond to questions from the audience. Donations for the Foothills Farmers’ Market Pavilion building fund will be accepted at the door.
Participating Farms Contacts:
Guernsey Girl Creamery
3370 Bridges Dairy Rd,
Shelby, NC 28150
Beam Family Farm (Luke Beam)
5200 Seven Pines Rd, Lawndale, NC 28090
Sain Farms (Dustin McMurry)
109 Dale Lane, Lawndale, NC 28090
Elmore Farms (John Elmore)
817 Casar-Lawndale Rd, Lawndale, NC 28090