Farmer Education Workshop: Tractor 101 for Women

explaining tractor engineOur first tractor operation and maintenance workshop geared specifically for women was a hit! Led by local farmer Danielle Hutchison of Beacon Village Farm, the workshop provided a safe environment for women to learn how to maintain and use tractors on their farms. Attendees ranged from college students to retirees in their 60/70s — including apprentices, landowners, and growers who sell at local markets.

tractor and group view

For 3 1/2 hours, the group actively engaged in discussing safety and tractor maintenance, with lots of hands-on interaction. Danielle created an open learning environment to encourage participants to ask questions. Read more

Farmer Education Workshop: Irrigation for Small Farms

In July we hosted an informative workshop on irrigation for small farms at our Community Farm to educate farmers and others about optimizing water use. This workshop — led by Community Farm and Food Associate Chris Link, WNC FarmLink Director Suzanna Dennison, and Chris McWhorter of the W.P. Law Agriculture Division — covered important questions to ask when considering irrigation, irrigation system components, and the mathematics required to calculate accurate measurements for an irrigation system. Read more

Protecting Your Body on the Farm

On Sunday, June 25, we hosted an educational farm workshop titled “Protecting Your Biggest Asset on the Farm: Your Body” led by Jamie Davis from A Way of Life Farm. This is the second year we have hosted this informative workshop to teach farmers (and others) best practices for protecting crucial parts of our bodies from injuries related to tedious physical work. Jamie, a native of Polk County, NC, shared his background with injuries, along with tips for caring for one’s body. Read more

Farm Pathways

protectbody_squareSAHC, Organic Growers School (OGS), and WNC Farmlink have been awarded a $600,000 federal grant over three years to continue developing Farm Pathways: Integrating Farmer Training with Land Access.

Farm Pathways was selected this year as one of 37 projects across the nation to receive funding from the US Dept. of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which aims to educate, mentor and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers. Read more

Farm Workshop: The Two-wheel, Walk-behind Tractor

BCSworkshopWhy choose a two-wheel tractor for your home garden or small farmstead, instead of a standard four-wheel tractor or tiller?

This small but mighty tractor is a versatile investment. With over forty implements available, it is designed to be an all-in-one performer for hobby farms, market gardeners, and backyard homesteaders alike. It is a favorite around the world, known for comparative ease of maintenance and operation, with a lower initial price that puts it within reach of beginning and small-scale growers.

“The two-wheel tractor is just right for many operations — not too big and not too small,” said Community Farm & Food Program Associate Chris Link. “They are also particularly nimble and user-friendly on our hillsides and small pathways, and therefore, more efficient when you are working with a compact site.” Read more

Black Soldier Fly Digester Build Workshop

filling-the-digester“Black Soldier Fly” — the name resonates with fear and dread, and perhaps even conjures an image of winged, facet-eyed soldiers wielding guns. In reality, black soldier flies (Hermetia illucens) are useful native critters that chew through organic remnants, helping turn organic material into compost while producing tasty treats for chickens.

The black soldier fly is a non-pest tropical and warm-temperate region insect useful for managing small and large amounts of biosolids and animal manure. They are native to this region but do not like to come indoors — so you won’t find them buzzing around the dinner table. They do not feed as adults or spread disease like other flies. Although large and potentially scary-looking, since the females can be about the size of a large wasp, they do not bite humans or livestock. After black soldier fly residue is vermicomposted, it can be used as a soil amendment. Read more

The Right Tools for the Farm

agequip2The cost of farm equipment is something that can make starting a farm feel impossible. Tractors alone can cost upwards of $30,000, and then there are all the implements and attachments that are specific to each agricultural activity. In order to assist farmers in having access to more equipment,  the Buncombe County Soil & Water District and Buncombe Cooperative Extension Service have each purchased several common tractor implements. Purchased through TVA Ag and Forestry Fund grants, these tools are available for local farmers to rent from the respective offices for minimal fees. Use of such equipment can result in higher farm profits by increasing efficiency and land productivity. Read more

Honey Harvest

img_2892Mmmmmmm, sweet, sweet honey — Fresh from the hive! The chronicle of our rescued honeybee hive continued this fall with our first honey harvest. What could be sweeter than seeing this thriving, rescued hive proliferating through the summer and making new honey stores to last through the coming winter? A learning experience that tastes good, too!

A small group of SAHC staff and volunteers gathered in early September on our Community Farm to help crack open the hive and see what our busy little bee folks had in store. Well — a group gathered but mostly watched as Community Farm and Food Assistant Yael Girard did the hands-on pulling of the frames from the hive. First, she demonstrated some protective gear and explained safety to the spectators, suggesting that people get only as close to watch as they felt comfortable, staying out of the bees’ flight path and remaining calm. Read more