Small Farms Week begins in Sampson

By: By Chase Jordan -

After receiving a big honor as the 2016 Small Farmers of the Year, Donnie and Alease Williams are looking forward to showing their land to begin a statewide celebration.

Small Farms Week will kick off Monday, March 20, in Sampson County, home of the Williamses’ D&A Farms. Some of the activities include a panel discussion and tour of local farms in the Autryville area. The others on the tour include H&D Farms Inc. and William Farm and Enterprise. Each year, the previous award winners open the event in their home county.

Sampson Extension Director Eileen Coite said she’s honored to have everything begin in Sampson County.

“We’re real excited to start everything here,” Coite said.

Sponsored by the Cooperative Extension Program at North Carolina A&T State University, the week is designed to highlight the contributions of the state’s small farmers who have to deal with limited resources. This year, marks the 31st anniversary an the theme is “Growing a Safe, Sustainable Food System.”

The upcoming event in Sampson County is being hosted by Sampson County Cooperative Extension and N.C. A&T officials.

“North Carolina farmers and farm families are the backbone of our state’s agricultural economy,” stated James Hartfield, area farm management agent. “This state’s small farmers work hard to make sure we have a safe and affordable food supply. So setting aside the opportunity to showcase and highlight their work is extremely important.”

Coite and other extension agents share the same feelings for small farmers and their impact on North Carolina agriculture.

“They’re part of one big larger family that contributes to our local community and agriculture,” Coite said. “There’s so many different avenues and small farmers play a big part.”

Some of that work will be shown on Monday’s tour. Locally, D&A Farms breeds pigs without growth hormones. Corn, soybeans, wheat are grown for animal feed. H&D Farms Inc. produces tobacco, grains, sweet potatoes and others crops. Williams Farm and Enterprise grows produces corn, cotton and various crops.

Small Farms Week will continue the following days on the campus of A&T campus. Some of the events include cooking demonstrations and educational workshops. North Carolina’s next Small Farmer of the Year award will be honored as well.

According to a news release from N.C. A&T, another scheduled highlight of the week is a presentation from Jason Brown, former NFL star who left the league for agricultural life. He purchased a 1000-acre farm in Louisburg and grew crops such as sweet potatoes and cucumbers. The harvest is donated to charity. Brown received help from extension officials, farmers and online research.

Donnie Williams observes pigs on his property at D&A Farms in Autryville. Williams observes pigs on his property at D&A Farms in Autryville.

By Chase Jordan

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.