North Carolina Celebrates the Contributions of Small-Scale Farmers With Small Farms Week, March 27-31

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Small farms play a vital role in supporting the competitiveness and sustainability of United States rural and farm economies in protecting and enhancing its natural resource base and the environment. These numerous and diverse small-scale operations provide a nursery for the development of new enterprises and marketing systems and replenishment of the farming population.

There are approximately 43,000 small-scale farmers statewide, and in honor of their accomplishments, pioneering work, and technological advancements, the state of North Carolina recognizes the week of March 27th through 31st as North Carolina Small Farms Week. The theme for the 37th annual North Carolina Small Farms Week is “Growth in a Changing Climate.”

“Change is a constant in our world and must be able to adapt to survive and prosper,” said Mark Blevins, Ed. D., Assistant Extension Administrator for Agriculture and Natural Resources at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. “Small Farms Week provides knowledge and tools that can help these farmers have successful growing seasons in this ever-changing environment.”  Last year, Millard and Connie Locklear of New Ground Farms in the Moss Neck Community were named the 2022 North Carolina Small Farmers of the Year. To honor the Locklears, the kickoff for the week will take place here in Robeson County on March 27 at the O.P. Owens Agricultural Center, located at 455 Caton Road, in Lumberton. The program will begin with registration at 9:30 a.m. Activities include a panel discussion, a complimentary lunch, and a tour of New Ground Farms.

Other events will be held on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. The highlight of the week is the Annual Small Farmers Recognition Luncheon, which will be held on March 29. At the luncheon, the 2023 North Carolina Small Farmer of the Year will be named. Other activities in Greensboro include breakout sessions, educational forums, and demonstrations on the N.C. A&T University Farm.

Southeastern North Carolina has a rich history in producing North Carolina Small Farmers of the Year. Including the Locklears, there have been eight Small Farmers of the Year from Southeastern North Carolina. Past winners from Robeson County include:  the late Burnice Blanks (2001) of the Moss Neck Community; Ellery and Amy Locklear (2003) of Locklear Farms in Pembroke; and Lucius and Vera Epps (2017) of Epps Farms in Maxton.

RSVP is required to attend the event. You can register for the kickoff online or call the Extension Center at 910-671-3276.

For more information, please contact Nelson Brownlee, Extension Area Small Farms Agent, at  910-671-3276, by email at, or visit our website.