Monday, January 25, 2010

NRCS Offers High Tunnel and Organic Ag Funding Opportunity

Here is some exciting news from Stuart Ashby Lee regarding Organic Agriculture and Seasonal High Tunnels and the NRCS-EQIP!

On behalf of the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) I would like to share with you exciting news about funding opportunities for seasonal high tunnels for corps and the Organic Initiative through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Below, I have included a Web link that will provide you with information about financial assistance offered for organic agricultural production and seasonal high tunnels. As always, if you have any questions about the attached information, links or NRCS, please contact me at any time. Stuart Ashby Lee, USDA-NRCS North Carolina, State Public Affairs Specialist, 4407 Bland RD, Ste 117, Raleigh, NC 27609. Phone: 919-873-2107. Email:
Funding Opportunities Through EQIP:


Additional Links:



  • Applications for seasonal high tunnels should be received by your local NRCS field office no later than February 12, 2010
  • Organic Farmers Sign-Up by March 12, 2010
Here is the news release:

Subject: High Tunnels to Reach New Heights In North Carolina

Raleigh, NC - High hope for high tunnels as the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) expands its ‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’ initiative to North Carolina. The initiative will provide opportunities for farmers to establish seasonal high tunnel systems for crops – also known as hoop houses – to increase the availability of locally grown produce in a conservation friendly way.

Unlike greenhouses, seasonal high tunnels use no energy, other than sunlight – saving money and valuable energy resources. Other resource benefits include improved pest management and plant condition. Seasonal high tunnels also provide a longer growing season.

“Seasonal high tunnels extend the growing season, which means a greater supply of locally grown produce on dinner tables across North Carolina,” said NRCS Acting State Conservationist JB Martin. “Ultimately, it’s a great opportunity for our producers and the state.”

Made of ribs of plastic or metal pipe covered with a layer of plastic sheeting, high tunnels are easy to build, maintain and move for crop rotations. Proactive conservation practices are installed around the tunnel to prevent soil erosion from runoff.

Traditional agricultural producers interested in utilizing seasonal high tunnels on currently cultivated cropland may qualify for financial assistance under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). A special EQIP sign-up period has been established exclusively for seasonal high tunnels. Applications for seasonal high tunnels should be received by your local NRCS Field Office no later than February 12.

Under the EQIP Organic Initiative, organic producers and producers who are transitioning to organic production can also receive financial assistance to establish a number of “core” conservation practices, which includes seasonal high tunnels to be utilized on cultivated cropland. Applications for EQIP Organic Initiative applications must be received by March 12 at your local field office.

For more information on NRCS, EQIP, high tunnels and for contact information on your nearest NRCS field office, please visit us on the Web at

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Business Side of Agritourism Workshop: Thursday, January 28

NC Cooperative Extension Agents in WNC have organized an excellent workshop for individuals with Agritourism businesses or those interested in diversifying into Agritourism.

What?: The Business Side of Agritoursim Workshop

When?: January 28, registration at 8 am, educational program at 9 am

Where?: The beautiful Lake Logan Episcopal Center in Canton, NC, located just outside Waynesville

Agenda includes:
  • Bob Schmidt from Maple Lane Farms in Greenback, TN
  • Self and Market Assessment
  • Understanding Sales Tax
  • Types of Agritourism Enterprises
  • Minimizing On-Farm Risk and Liability
  • Rules and Regulations for Agritourism Businesses
  • Using Your Chamber of Commerce and Travel and Tourism Department
  • Collaborations and Collective Marketing
  • Incorporation Education into Your Agritourism Business
For more details, download the Business Side of Agritourism Workshop Brochure.

Pre-Conference Activities:
For folks staying in the area on Wednesday Jan. 27, we will offer a tour of Sunburst Trout Farm at 3 pm. A reception will also be held that evening that will allow guests and speakers to talk and share local products from WNC farms.

Overnight Accomodations:
For individuals spending the night at the Lake Logan Episcopal Center, please make your own arrangements. Visit for details.
There are also accomodations in nearby Waynesville, NC

How much?: $35/per person. Includes lunch, snacks and resource notebook

How to register: Contact Ivy Olson at the Henderson County Cooperative Extension Office, 828.697.4891 or download the brochure and mail in soon!

January Edition of Small Fruit News Now Available

The latest edition of the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium's Small Fruit News is now available.

In the January 2010 Edition:
  • Berries as One of “Ten Riskiest Foods”?
  • ‘Suziblue’: A New Southern Highbush Blueberry Variety from The University of Georgia
  • Prime-Ark 45, a New Blackberry Variety
  • Bramble (Caneberry) Winter Checklist
  • Quarterly Strawberry Plasticulture Checklist

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Movento to be Pulled From Shelves!

Big Win for Bees: Judge Pulls Pesticide

NEW YORK (December 29, 2009) - A pesticide that could be dangerously toxic to America's honey bees must be pulled from store shelves as a result of a suit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Xerces Society. In an order issued last week, a federal court in New York invalidated EPA's approval of the pesticide spirotetramat (manufactured by Bayer CropScience under the trade names Movento and Ultor) and ordered the agency to reevaluate the chemical in compliance with the law. The court's order goes into effect on January 15, 2010, and makes future sales of Movento illegal in the United States.

Here is a full article on the matter Bayer 'Disappointed' in Ruling on Chemical that May Harm Bees