New Organic Research Program to be Established at the Mountain Research Station

The 2009 Organic Heirloom Tomato Workshop at the Mountain Research Station
Yesterday I was received notification that the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services through the USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service, Specialty Crop Block Grant Program has funded my proposal at $43,000 to establish an official organic research program for the WNC research stations!

Here is a short abstract of the proposed project:
Western North Carolina has a high concentration of organic farmers and a strong consumer base for their products. Although there is some organic research in WNC being conducted by a small number of faculty at NC State University, there is no recognized organic research program in the region to support the existing producers or new farmers getting into organic production. The objective of this project is to develop an organic research program for the western North Carolina research stations. The primary location will be the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville with smaller units at the two other mountain stations. The first phase of the program will be focused on a wide variety of organic horticultural crops that have strong local markets. The program will be research based, but will also be useable as a teaching tool for university, community college, and K-12 students. Similar existing programs across the country will be surveyed to learn from their successes and failures. Farmers, NC State research and extension personnel, NCDA&CS personnel, and relevant non-profits will be involved in the planning process. Within a year, we propose to have a program established and crops in the ground.  This program will provide the western North Carolina agricultural community with research based information on production of a wide variety of organic horticultural crops, resulting in increased farm income and expanded market opportunities.

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