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2002 Chatham Ag Department Program Success Highlights

Posted Thursday, January 2, 2003

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Cooke, Albert - Chatham: Being spread "too thin" to provide requested "house calls," Extension Agents must make good use of their time when responding to requests. When a caller inquired of Chatham County Agent Al Cooke about help with identifying trees and how to know which were healthy, Cooke asked if there were neighbors with similar problems and asked the caller to organize them for a group meeting. Cooke met with seven home owners and discussed individual trees on all their properties. The caller later responded, "thank you very much for the Forestry 101 session this morning. We all learned a lot of helpful information about our trees and properties. Could you please send me the website for the professional arboretum society?" Instead of dealing with one question, Cooke had met with seven individuals in an informal tutorial that allowed for questions to build, taking the learning to a higher level.

Cooke, Albert - Chatham: Extension Agents are often asked to intercede with presumed problems and must appear responsive and competent even if the problem is out of their control. Late one Friday afternoon, Chatham County Extension Agent Al Cooke took a voice mail from a caller concerned that utility crews had sprayed herbicides along power line easements. The caller was afraid that the lake from which he ate fish was contaminated. Throughout the week-end, Cooke exchanged voice mail messages with utility representatives until he had determined the products used. He shared with the caller the product names as well as Extension Toxicology websites providing information about the toxicity and hazard of the products. On Tuesday morning, Cooke received the following email: "It looks like the chemicals are pretty short lived and benign. Thanks much for your follow (up) information. You are worth your state salary."

Cooke, Albert - Chatham: Getting information to people who need it presents challenges of knowing who needs the information, having it available when they need it, and at best having it at a location where they are likely to find it. Chatham County Extension Agent Al Cooke responds to public questions in a public forum via the Chatham ChatList. When someone asked about getting water sampled, Cooke summarized available analyses and how to get them done. The district coordinator of the Chatham Soil and Water Conservation District replied, "Thanks for your post, Al. I get calls every day about this and never knew who to refer them to." In this case, use of the public forum got the information not only to the questioner in a timely fashion but also to a place where others go for information.

Cooke, Albert - Chatham: Extension Agents suggest that plants do better with fewer pest problems if the variety is matched to its location. Gardeners often watch for the newest varieties. Chatham County Agent Al Cooke received an email from a client who wanted to grow fruit. She had browsed a catalog and selected a number of varieties including a number of blueberry varieties unknown to Cooke. Cooke suggested that the varieties would probably do quite well somewhere, but that other varieties might do better locally. He suggested optimizing sun exposure, an autumn rather than spring planting date, and soil analysis. The client responded, "Thank you sooo much for your e-mail! That was exactly what I needed, even though, as you say, you contradicted a lot what I was planning to do. However, I want to be successful, so I will take your advice and get everything ready for planting in the fall."

Cooke, Albert - Chatham: The Chatham County Online Chatlist provides opportunities for sharing research based information to hundreds of subscribers at the classic "teachable moment." In July there was a discussion of the value of using household bleach to kill ticks rather than Sevin since Sevin is a pesticide. Chatham County Extension Agent Al Cooke took the opportunity to explain that some household bleaches are also pesticides with hazard ratings greater than that of Sevin. The posting allowed an explanation of hazard ratings for pesticides as well as other considerations for making choices. The Chatlist moderator replied, "As always - good stuff. I'm glad we have you in our Chatlist group. A lot of people appreciate the information you provide." County Extension Director Glenn Woolard said, "I learned a lot --You made an impact on at least one consumer."

Cooke, Albert - Chatham: Extension Agents and Master Gardeners receive frequent requests from worthy organizations to provide some gardening service. Chatham County Agent Al Cooke teaches Master Gardeners that "we can teach folks how and help them get started but doing it for them is not our roll." For two years, Chatham County Master Gardener Gresham Yeager has worked with the Friends of the Pittsboro Library to help them to improve the library's external appearance and to get them to take responsibility for it. He has often questioned whether the Master Gardeners were helping and advising or doing the whole program for them. In September 2002 Yeager reported that the newest board member of the Friends would also be head of the landscaping and grounds committee. Through continued encouragement and coaxing, Yeager worked himself out of the lead roll and now works in the support roll he had aimed for.

Cooke, Albert - Chatham: Chatham County Extension Agent Al Cooke deals with many clients who worry about hazards of pesticides but show little awareness of the impact of fertilizers on water quality. In August, he produced an ""Environmental Issue"" of his home garden newsletter addressing questions of Best Management Practices, relations between fertilizers and water quality, and hazards of pesticides. Among the responses: from a landscaper, ""It helped me clarify some of those fuzzy issues in regards to what really is environmentally sound. So keep all the great info coming!"" From a Master Gardener, ""all articles are timely and well-reasoned."" This writer had discussed the issue with a neighbor who wanted to be added to the mailing list. In addition to putting research based information regarding water quality before hundreds or subscribers, he had also provided teaching points to these individuals who reach another stratum of gardeners.

Cooke, Albert - Chatham: Extension Agents often deal with clients who assume that whatever the problem, there must be some "magic" that can resolve their problem permanently. A client considering a property purchase was concerned about chiggers and her severe reaction to them. Chatham County Extension Agent Al Cooke said, "I will not tell you that you can get rid of them." He discussed strategies which can be taken but pointed out, "you may reduce the problem but not likely eradicate it." The client responded, "It is a beautiful area, but obviously not a good place for me to reside. I think my husband has come to this conclusion also. I need a place that is 'more tamed,' as he puts it. Your information helps me understand the way chiggers work." With good information, the client understood the problem better and was able to make a decision that was appropriate for her.

Cooke, Albert - Chatham: Extension Agents who work with nursery growers often meet clients who can grow plants but lack understanding of the business. It is challenging to help these people find the niche that fits, especially if the likely niche is hobbyist. When Chatham County Agent Al Cooke met a grower selling plants at a local farmers' market, he observed that the plants were grown with observable deficiencies. Developing a relationship with the client, Cooke assisted her in setting up a demonstration comparing how her fertilizers were performing. The client found herself better suited to the research than the selling. She emailed Cooke, "I honestly think, had I not met you, it would not have occurred to me to pursue a doctorate degree, especially in horticultural science." Cooke helped her discover that with her academic background, she has a roll in the nursery industry as a resource rather than as a grower.

Cooke, Albert - Chatham: Greenhouse crops and outdoor flowers provide $761,241 income (2001) to Chatham County growers. Many of these crops are susceptible to tomato spotted wilt virus, an incurable plant disease. With the disease established in local tomato crops, Chatham County Extension Agent Al Cooke needed a way to quickly warn growers of the potential for disaster. Cooke took advantage of a list of email contacts including nurseries, greenhouses, and landscapers. His message included disease symptoms and internet sites with pictures of infected crops. Within 24 hours one grower decided he finally knew what was causing unusual symptoms. Rather than attempting to diagnose and salvage infested plants, he was removing them and making plans to reduce his exposure to the insect vector. Without this capacity for quick dissemination of information to a large number of growers, the communication would have taken hours of agent time and would have been less effective without pictures.

Cooke, Albert - Chatham: Extension Agents are challenged much as retail sales outlets to predict and address the needs of home gardeners for educational programs. In order to make good use of time, Agents view providing proactive programming that helps a large number of people prevent and prepare for garden problems preferable to reacting to one problem at the time. In winter 2002 Chatham County Agent Al Cooke decided on a series of home gardening classes focusing on topics about which many local gardeners frequently call for help. 76 individuals enrolled in three groups of classes. 71% of persons in fruit classes reported gaining 5 or more new ideas to implement. Average confidence level in a beginners' vegetable class increased 92%. By focusing on local gardening interests, Cooke attracted many gardeners and was able to introduce concepts predicated to lead to success and to instill confidence in those attending.

Cooke, Albert - Chatham: Extension Agents are frequently confronted with conventional "wisdom" which may not be factually grounded. Chatham County Agent Al Cooke has used newsletters to challenge the accuracy of a list of "Invasive exotic plants to avoid in the southeastern United States." First on the list was a plant that Cooke would not recommend, not because it is invasive but because it is not likely to thrive locally. Cooke wrote to Dr. Peter White, participant in the St. Louis Invasive Plants Species Workshop to note that the list is inconsistent with the St. Louis principles that such lists should consider "regional differences to the fullest extent possible." White replied with a request to share Cooke's email with the committee that continues to meet over the St. Louis Declaration. White noted the group's attempt to move to the center "where truth and reality lie and because working together is better than working apart."

Cooke, Albert - Chatham: Extension Agents must use multiple methods of getting information to their audiences in a timely manner. Periodical newsletters have proven an effective method but production time makes them inefficient for reaching large audiences when time is critical. Chatham County Agent Al Cooke's home horticulture advisory committee suggested building a list of home gardeners' email addresses that could be used to send notices of timely issues or problems such as Japanese beetles. Cooke initiated an ELetter with electronic distribution to more than 200 recipients. When a December ice storm created many tree problems, by the time many clients had electrical power restored, there were already 2 ELetters advising them on evaluating tree damage and cautioning safety with chainsaws. Every notice brings some response from clients of the value of such a timely warning. Cooke reports daily requests from clients to be added to his Eletter mailings.

Groce, Samuel E - Chatham: Agents with the Chatham County Center of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service have worked to educate all citizens of Chatham County about the Chatham County Voluntary Agricultural District Ordinance. At the end of the first month of taking applications the county Agricultural Advisory Committee voted to place over 3800 acres of applied for Chatham farmland into Voluntary Agricultural Districts. This ordinance will help protect farmland and farmers from nuisance suits and infrastructure development within the county.

Groce, Samuel E - Chatham: The Town of Siler City, the largest municipality in Chatham county, in April 2002, proposed to extend their extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) to the fullest extent allowed by the North Carolina Legislature. This size of the annexation was 56,000 acres which approximately one half is farm land. The farms, once approved into the ETJ would be subject to zoning regulations and infrastructure development cost shares by the town. To show their commitment to agriculture, Siler City became the first municipality in the state to pass a resolution to honor the county's Voluntary Agricultural District Ordinance within its ETJ. This resolution will keep the farmers from bearing major costs in infrastructure development and provide protection from nuisance suits from new neighbors of farmers.

Groce, Samuel E - Chatham: At the beginning of 2002, Chatham County began taking applications from farmers to be involved in the Chatham County Voluntary Agricultural District Program. At the beginning many farmers were worried that a program of this type would take away their personal property rights. Agents with the Chatham County Center of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service worked with various farm groups and civic organizations to educate citizens about the program and its benefits to farmers and farmland. By the end of 2002 over 16,000 acres of farmland in Chatham County had been placed into the Voluntary Agricultural District Program, resulting in notification requirements for proximity to farms over two thirds of county to people who are in the process of buying real property within the county.

Groce, Samuel E - Chatham: Chatham County, NC ranks number 2 in beef cattle production and fourth in all cattle in the state of North Carolina. The predominant forage in the county is fescue with approximately 95% of all pasture and hayland in fescue. The livestock and forage agent has conducted a series of short courses and workshops teaching about alternative forages, watering systems and rotational grazing. In 2002, 28 producers have expressed interest or request further information or assistance in developing watering and rotational grazing systems and/or planting alternative forages to fescue. This will help livestock producers avoid many of the problems from lack of water and lack of forage to graze that was experienced during the drought of 2002.

Groce, Samuel E - Chatham: The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service has a long history of a close working relationship with the county's in which each office is located. However, municipalities have not typically been seen as a client who needs the educational services that the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service provides. With the advent of zoning and growth occurring with municipalities, the Chatham County Center has made an effort to develop working relationships with the town managers and town boards of the municipalities in the county in order to educate them on the needs of agriculture within the county and how it relates to the cities. As a result of this partnership and educational opportunity the Town of Siler City passed a resolution which resulted in the town honoring the guidelines set forth in the county Voluntary Agricultural District Ordinance.

McHam, Vernon E - Chatham: 4-H Youth Incentives Program 4-H Advisory Committee identified a need for more middle school programs to encourage students to improve their behavior and academic in school. Youth Incentives was developed to encourage students to improve their performance in a behavior or academic area identified jointly by student, teacher and principal. Students sign a Performance Goal Contract based on the need of the student. Participation in this program is on a volunteer basis. Students who successfully reach their goals receive recognition each nine wks. and a $50. saving bond at end of year. 197,6th-8th graders participated in this program. 173 participated in the academic performance incentive,(86%) showed improvement and 24 student set goals in the behavior incentive, (94%) showed improvement and met their goals.

McHam, Vernon E - Chatham: 4-H Program Volunteers Chatham County 4-H involves over 247 youth and adult volunteers, reaching 2,167 youth through organized clubs, special interest, camping, school enrichment, and life skills program development.

McHam, Vernon E - Chatham: 4-H Discovery Program School teacher/parent committee identified a need to have more electives class for its 7th & 8th graders after school system change their grading period from 6wks. to 9wks. 4-H discovery program was implemented to give students more class during the school day, 1 hr. per/wk. for 20 wks. After the first ten wks., students were able to select another class of their choice. The program allowed parents, school administration, community leaders and other vols. to share their trade, teach a topic of their choice using 4-H curriculum, or create a project with the students. 292 students&36 vols. were involved in this collaborative effect. Post life skills evaluation were given to students at the end of each 10 wk. session.

Roos, Debbie L - Chatham: Small farmers need to increase their marketing outlets to remain viable. 65 area farmers attended a January workshop on Marketing Agricultural Products to Restaurants and Independent Retailers conducted by Chatham County Agricultural Extension Agent Debbie Roos. The workshop featured a panel of farmers, chefs, and retail produce buyers. Prior to the workshop, Roos interviewed area chefs, retailers, and farmers and developed a marketing tips publication that was distributed as a handout. In a post-workshop evaluation, 78% of participants rated the workshop as ""excellent"" or ""outstanding"". 44% said it was ""very useful"", and 56% said it was useful. 84% of participants said that they planned on using 3 or more ideas from the workshop within the next year. Participant comments included: ""an excellent and diverse panel which covered a wide range of information""; ""the marketing tips handout alone was well worth the trip from Charlotte""; ""the straight talk from both growers and buyers was very useful"".

Roos, Debbie L - Chatham: Many small, limited-resource farmers are not aware of the many opportunities available to them. 120 farmers from the Piedmont region attended a February NCDA Food Policy Council Conference on Connecting North Carolina Farmers to North Carolina Consumers. The conference was organized by Chatham County Agricultural Extension Agent Debbie Roos. 18 speakers talked about institutional buying, value-added processing and marketing, farmer cooperatives, direct marketing to corporations, and financing opportunities. In a post-workshop evaluation, 55% of participants rated the workshop as ""excellent"" or ""outstanding"", and 45% rated it as ""good"". 71% of participants said that they planned on using 3 or more ideas from the workshop within the next year, and 29% said they planned on implementing 1-2 ideas. Participant comments included: ""great conference, very informative""; ""you did a fantastic job in putting together very timely information for the audience""; ""good ideas, great array of speakers""; ""excellent program that links growers to government agencies"".

Roos, Debbie L - Chatham: It is very important that growers be able to identify both pests and beneficials in order to choose an appropriate pest management strategy. A hands-on workshop on Identifying Beneficial Insects conducted by Chatham County Agricultural Extension Agent Debbie Roos attracted 40 area farmers in March. Roos showed slides of the insects and passed around actual specimens for participants to view. In a post-workshop evaluation, 86% of participants rated the workshop as ""outstanding"" or ""excellent"". 63% said the workshop was ""very useful"", while 39% said it was ""useful"". 89% of participants said that they gained ""very much"" or ""much"" knowledge. Participant comments included: ""excellent workshop""; ""instructor was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic""; ""excellent handouts""; ""thanks for creating a wonderful series of workshops - keep up the good work!""; ""this workshop is very timely""; ""good resources, clearly comfortable with information, well-versed and clearly tailored to clientele which I very much appreciate!""; ""great presentation, effectively fielded questions""; ""please continue this hands-on approach!""

Roos, Debbie L - Chatham: Beneficial insects are a vital part of a farm's ecosystem and can provide tremendous help in pest management. 35 area farmers attended an April workshop on Conservation and Augmentation of Beneficial Insects conducted by Chatham County Agricultural Extension Agent Debbie Roos. In a post-workshop evaluation, 48% of participants rated the workshop as ""excellent"" or ""outstanding"". 92% said the workshop was ""very useful"" or ""useful"". 64% of participants said that they planned on using 3 or more ideas from the workshop within the next year, and 36% said they planned on using 1-2 ideas. Participant comments included: ""very good information and presentation""; ""a lot of good, relevant information""; ""well-thought-out speakers and presentations""; ""presented a new way to look at things""; ""enjoyed it, very informative""; ""good information for a wide variety of growers""; ""great resource list, photos, handouts"".

Roos, Debbie L - Chatham: Asparagus is a high-value specialty crop, and demand far exceeds supply in the Triangle. 25 area farmers attended a June workshop on asparagus production organized by Chatham County Agricultural Extension Agent Debbie Roos. In a post-workshop evaluation, 72% of participants rated the workshop as ""excellent"" or ""outstanding"". 93% of the participants reported they found the information presented ""very useful"". 57% responded that they had gained ""very much knowledge"", and 43% gained ""much knowledge"". 38% of participants said that they planned on using 5 or more ideas from the workshop within the next year, and 62% said they planned on using 3-5 ideas. Participant comments included: ""knowledgeable speaker, detailed explanation of asparagus production""; ""excellent coverage of all aspects of the crop""; ""usable information for small growers""; ""excellent topic and great timing to give us time to plan for next year""; ""good question and answer session""; ""excellent information packets"".

Roos, Debbie L - Chatham: Farmer interest in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) as an alternative direct marketing strategy is growing every year. 36 area farmers attended a July workshop on CSA conducted by Chatham County Agricultural Extension Agent Debbie Roos. In a post-workshop evaluation, 100% of participants rated the workshop as ""excellent"" or ""outstanding"". 100% of the participants reported they found the information presented ""very useful"". When asked how much knowledge they had gained as a result of the workshop, 86% responded ""much"" or ""very much"" knowledge. 37% of participants said that they planned on using 5 or more ideas from the workshop within the next year, and 63% said they planned on using 3-5 ideas. Participant comments included: ""this meeting is a perfect example of what I think should be the main role of Cooperative Extension: facilitation of information exchange, and Debbie is a great facilitator""; ""the farmer panel was extremely useful""; ""handout packets are excellent""; ""excellent presentations by speakers and panel""; ""very well organized"".

Roos, Debbie L - Chatham: Cover crops are an important part of sustainable soil management, and many growers have limited knowledge of only a few species. 34 area farmers attended an August field day on summer cover crops conducted by Chatham County Agricultural Extension Agent Debbie Roos that highlighted 18 different species and mixtures. In a post-workshop evaluation, 82% of participants rated the workshop as ""excellent"" or ""outstanding"". 73% of the participants reported they found the field day ""very useful"". When asked how much knowledge they had gained as a result of the field day, 91% responded ""much"" or ""very much"" knowledge. 31% of participants said that they planned on using 5 or more ideas from the field day within the next year, and 64% said they planned on using 2-4 ideas. Participant comments included: ""very well done - good organization and timely information""; ""it was great to actually see the crops - what they looked like, how they performed""; ""enjoyed the combination of lecture, handouts, discussion in the field""; ""lots of useful information""; "" knowledgeable speakers"".

Roos, Debbie L - Chatham: It is very important that growers be able to identify both pests and beneficials in order to choose an appropriate pest management strategy. 66 area farmers attended a hands-on workshop on crop insect pest identification conducted by Chatham County Agricultural Extension Agent Debbie Roos in September. In a post-workshop evaluation, 87% of participants rated the workshop as ""excellent"" or ""outstanding"". 73% of the participants reported they found the information presented ""very useful"". When asked how much knowledge they had gained as a result of the workshop, 87% responded ""much"" or ""very much"" knowledge. Participant comments included: ""the hands-on ID was very informative""; ""well-organized notebook""; ""excellent presentation""; ""Debbie really put a lot of work into this; ""great handouts""; ""great knowledge of subject""; ""the specimens were great""; ""it was a great benefit to me to learn what I did""; ""I really enjoyed the workshop!""' ""a great workshop - thanks! - once again a super resource for farmers in Chatham"".

Roos, Debbie L - Chatham: 34 area farmers attended a hands-on workshop on crop insect pest identification conducted by Chatham County Agricultural Extension Agent Debbie Roos in October. It is very important that growers be able to identify both pests and beneficials in order to choose an appropriate pest management strategy. In a post-workshop evaluation, 83% of participants rated the workshop as ""excellent"" or ""outstanding"". 71% of the participants reported they found the information presented ""very useful"". When asked how much knowledge they had gained as a result of the workshop, 83% responded ""much"" or ""very much"" knowledge. Participant comments included: ""good presentation, well delivered""; ""I liked seeing the specimens and person and having the binder to use in the field""; ""the specimens were very helpful, and the notebook and magnifying lens were wonderful""; ""shows tons of hard work""; ""you do a great job!""

Roos, Debbie L - Chatham: In Chatham County, approximately 95% of the small farmers use the Internet as an information source. Growing Small Farms is a sustainable agriculture website for small farmers that is created and maintained by Chatham County Agricultural Extension Agent Debbie Roos. The site was launched in January 2002 with 77 pages and had grown to 117 pages by December 2002. The site had 14,407 views in 2002. An on-line feedback form generated 62 responses in December 2002. 54% rated the quality of the website as ""outstanding"" and 40% as ""excellent"". 69% of respondents said the website was ""very useful"" - the highest rating. 82% of respondents said that they had gained ""very much"" or ""much"" knowledge from the website.

Roos, Debbie L - Chatham: Growing Small Farms is a sustainable agriculture website for small farmers that is created and maintained by Chatham County Agricultural Extension Agent Debbie Roos. 2002 visitor comments included: ""It's so comprehensive. It's helped in many ways, from selecting appropriate cover crops to finding sources for seed and equipment to learning of workshops in the area to just feeling like part of the sustainable ag community""; ""because of your website, our pest management and cover crops are definitely better and yields are improving""; ""one-stop clicking to a lot of well-organized information""; ""The website has definitely helped the marketing aspect of our operation, looking for opportunities. We also like and find the biological control information very helpful""; ""You have developed an impressive array of content that is locally relevant and unavailable elsewhere""; ""increased the ideas and resources to improve my soil and options to increase the profitability of my farm"".

Roos, Debbie L - Chatham: Demand for information on sustainable and organic production is high and supply is low. Plow Sharing is a monthly sustainable agriculture newsletter produced by Chatham County Agricultural Extension Agent Debbie Roos. 2002 reader comments included: ""your newsletter is the best of its kind that I have had the opportunity to read""; ""I really love and look forward to the newsletter - it gives me both local happenings, information, and articles of interest - practical articles! I am so grateful for Debbie's work in the county and having her as a resource!""; ""it's like getting a shot in the arm with information""; ""the information comes at the right time to apply it. Good contact info. The material helps gather the community closer. The newsletter helped make knowledgeable choices on cover crops. Choices we didn't know we had""; ""well-written, timely information, a great resource""; ""you are doing a great job! I like your enthusiasm and you put a lot of effort and commitment into your work"".

Roos, Debbie L - Chatham: Demand for information on sustainable and organic production is high and supply is low. Plow Sharing is a monthly newsletter focused on sustainable agriculture that is written, edited, and designed by Chatham County Agricultural Extension Agent Debbie Roos. Articles include information on organic pest management and production, specialty crops, marketing, educational events, and much more. In an end-of-the-year 2002 evaluation (81 respondents), 46% rated the quality of the newsletter as ""outstanding"" and 43% as ""excellent"". 70% of respondents said the newsletter was ""very useful"" - the highest rating. 29% of participants said that they planned on using 5 or more ideas from the newsletter within the next year, while 64% planned on using 3-4 ideas. 89% of respondents said that they had gained ""very much"" or ""much"" knowledge from the newsletter.

Roos, Debbie L - Chatham: Small farmers appreciate and benefit from opportunities to network and share knowledge and experiences. In Chatham County, approximately 95% of the small farmers use the Internet as an information source, and an increasing number use email to ask questions of their county agent. Chatham County Agricultural Extension Agent Debbie Roos set up an email listserve group off of the Growing Small Farms website in September 2002 to improve networking and communication among farmers and agricultural educators. The listserve had 105 subscribers by the end of 2002. Now when a farmer asks a question, many people can share their knowledge and experience and benefit from the responses. All messages are archived on the web for future reference. Subscriber comments included: "Thanks for starting the listserve. What a great idea to connect farmers even more!"; "It's turning out to be very helpful to me".

Roos, Debbie L - Chatham: Newer growers and growers marketing a new crop for the first time often request help in determining prices. Chatham County Agricultural Extension Agent Debbie Roos conducted a bi-weekly produce price survey during the 2002 peak growing season and posted prices on her website. Roos collected prices from 3 local farmers' markets and 6 retailers. Information on current market prices should only be used to inform pricing decisions, and not as the basis for them. Some farmer comments included: "This information is so useful, even to those of us who are still in the experimentation phase of organic growing. It gives me, as a pre-retailer, an idea of where to place my efforts"; "It's really helpful to me as a new grower to know the price range of individual items so I know how much to charge". The survey was also used by several CSA farms to help calculate share price.

Woolard, Glenn E - Chatham: Eighteen timber owners participated in a FOREST HERBICIDE WORKSHOP on February 28, 2002.....The workshop was conducted by the Chatham County Center of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.....The forestry advisory committee indicated that forest land owners needed forest herbicide training. Timber owners need to know how to safely and properly apply forest herbicides to protect themselves and the environment?..2,300 non-industrial private forest owners own 257,000 acres of Chatham forest land?.. 92% gained much or very much knowledge about forest herbicides.....84% indicated the knowledge gained would be much useful or very useful.....69% said the knowledge gained would save them money.....53% currently use forest herbicides..The other six will now use forest herbicides?.100% better understand how to safely use forest herbicides?..92% better understand how to apply forest herbicides in a way that protects the environment.

Woolard, Glenn E - Chatham: Twenty-eight timber owners participated in a TIMBER TAX WORKSHOP on February 7, 2002.....The workshop was conducted in Pittsboro, N.C. by the Chatham County Center of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.....With 68% of the Chatham land (over 302,000 acres) in timber and with over $21 million income to private individuals for timber sold in 2001, it is important that forest land owners maximize their after tax income from the sale of timber?..72% gained much or very much knowledge about timber taxes.....76% indicated the knowledge gained would be much useful or very useful.....80% said the knowledge gained would save them money.....64% indicated this workshop would increase their after tax income..Participants estimated their after tax forestry income would increase by $6,700?..87% now plan to put their forest land in the forestry land use tax program?..96% rated the workshop as good or outstanding.

Woolard, Glenn E - Chatham: 234 people (191 youth and 43 adults) participated in YOUTH DAY on September 6, 2002 at the Chatham County Fair. Youth day was conducted by the Chatham County Center of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. With less than 5% of the 7,000 school age youth living on the farm, Chatham youth know very little about agriculture. The post-evaluation forms were completed by the classroom teachers. 83% rated the overall quality of youth day as "good" or "outstanding". 67% indicated youth day met their expectations "much" or "very much". 50% of the teachers gained "much" or "very much" knowledge about the topics presented. 67% of the teachers thought the youth gained "some" or "much" knowledge about the topics presented. The topics presented included beekeeping, beef cattle, horses, poultry, worm composting, recycling, sheep, soil and water conservation, forestry, foods and nutrition, and birdfeeders.

Woolard, Glenn E - Chatham: The twelfth annual CHATHAM COUNTY FARM and INDUSTRY TOUR held on September 26, 2002 had 68 participants. The farm tour was conducted by the Chatham County Center of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.. With less than 5% of the county population living on the farm, residents are not aware of the diversity and importance of agriculture in Chatham County. Tour stops included a furniture industry, horse breeding farm, plant nursery, breeder hen farm, and alpaca farm. 77% said they gained a lot of knowledge about the farm and industry stops. 86% rated farming as very important. 62% rated industry as very important. Some participant comments on the evaluation included: "The tour was an eye opener. Coming from a metropolitan area, I found it extremely interesting."; "Very well done. Appreciate the diversity. Also good to meet the farm and business owners.".

Woolard, Glenn E - Chatham: About 800 people attended the fourth annual FARM FUN DAY...It was held on October 12, 2002 at the National Guard Armory in Siler City, NC..The event was conducted by the Chatham County Center of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service as part of our Farm-City Week celebration..With less than 5% of the county population living on the farm and with more non-farm people moving in each year, less and less people know about the importance of farming in Chatham County..Twenty businesses donated $3,325 to sponsor Farm-City Week. 57 Farm Fun Day participants completed a post evaluation. 96% rated the overall quality of Farm Fun Day as "good" or "outstanding". 93% indicated that Farm Fun Day "much" or "very much" met their expectations. 74% gained "much" or "very much" knowledge about agriculture in Chatham County. 93% said they now know more about agriculture.

 
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