Did You Know…
Interest in Local and Home Food Production on the Rise in Jones County
A few generations ago, almost all kids knew all about growing their own food. During the summer, kids shucked corn, shelled beans and peas, and peeled apples for applesauce. For a variety of reasons, as a society we drifted away from home-based food production and began to rely more on others, sometimes on others very far away, to provide our foods.
Today, the pendulum is swinging back in the direction of home-based food production, and community gardens, canning, freezing, backyard poultry, and self -sufficiency are “in” again. But many of us have lost the vegetable gardening skills that were so common a few generations ago. Even in Jones County, where the percentage of us growing some of our own food is comparably pretty high, we at Cooperative Extension are receiving more numerous calls and questions regarding home food production.
We are also noting a growing interest in commercial vegetable production. The return on a acre of intensively cultivated vegetables is much higher than that of many row crops. Depending on experience, production style and which crop(s), an acre of vegetables can net between $10,000 and $25,000. This can be very appealing in comparison to an average $2,000 net return on a crop like tobacco.
What’s important to keep in mind, though, is that growing tobacco and growing vegetables are two completely different ball games. A “market” grower who is selling his product directly to customers will likely need a variety of crops to do so; therefore knowledge of numerous plants and their needs is necessary. In order to have product available at market, a series of succession plantings is needed, and harvest will hopefully be continuous and ongoing in a vegetable operation rather than being concentrated in a few intense weeks.
In order to address this interest in food production, Jones County Cooperative Extension is planning a series of evening classes intended to benefit both aspiring home gardeners and those with an interest in commercial vegetable production. Modeled after an extremely successful program in Onslow County, the series would cover topics from soil to planting to pest management to marketing, and more.
Our plan is to begin the series in January and meet in the evenings, to allow those with jobs to attend. The series will include both classroom and hands-on instruction. Classes will be one night per week for six to ten weeks. Hands-on training will be provided at the community garden adjacent to the County Offices Complex.
Are YOU interested in learning more about fruit and vegetable production? Let us know! Call your Jones County Cooperative Extension Office (448-9621) to be placed on a contact list if these classes are of interest. Take the time to weigh in- let us know what topics are of most importance to you! We can tailor the program to meet your needs if you let us know what those are. Whether you want to learn more about growing food for your own family, or are looking into vegetable production as a business opportunity, we are here to empower you with information to help you reach your goals. We look forward to seeing you in January!
North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation. North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.
This article will be published in the Jones Post newspaper on September 13, 2012 and was written by Nicole Sanchez, Area Specialized Agent – Commercial Horticulture.