Three Wayne County Farmers Win Grants

Three Wayne County Farmers Win Grants

Three Wayne County farmers have been named winners in a grant program aimed at supporting family farms. Brook Freeman of Goldsboro, Erin Martin of Wayne County and Tracey Ivey of Freemont were among 62 individual growers earning grants of between $1,000 and $8,000 from NC AgVentures.

The competitive grants – administered by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, with funding provided through the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission – are awarded to innovative projects aimed at diversifying, expanding or implementing new entrepreneurial plans for farm operations.
Farmers in 46 counties – Alamance, Alexander, Alleghany, Anson, Ashe, Cabarrus, Caswell, Catawba, Chatham, Davidson, Davie, Durham, Edgecombe, Franklin, Forsyth, Gaston, Granville, Greene, Guilford, Halifax, Harnett, Iredell, Johnston, Lincoln, Martin, Mecklenburg, Nash, Northampton, Orange, Person, Pitt, Randolph, Rockingham, Rowan, Sampson, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Union, Vance, Wake, Wayne, Wilson, Wilkes, Warren, and Yadkin.

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Brook Freeman is a first generation female flower farmer. She leases land that belonged to her grandfather’s best friend, who still lives nearby. He has been cheering her on since day one. The small farm, surrounded by wide-open fields of tobacco, soybeans, and sweet potatoes, was previously known as “the worst land,” and was destined to become a salvage yard before Freeman’s parents decided to purchase the farm. Freeman received funds to add another well to expand production acreage, and extend the growing season for produce and flowers.

Foot Prints in the Garden operates year-round growing through regenerative and organic methods, with a high tunnel that allows for season extension of crops and 30 acres with diversified vegetables, fruit, and nut trees. Martin was awarded funding to construct on farm cooling and storage.

Ivey’s grandparents established the Edmundson Springs Farm in 1937; tobacco was the main crop. In 2018, Ivey and his son transitioned the farm to cattle production, and two years later added cut flowers. He will use grant funds to retrofit two containers into cold storage units to provide a longer shelf life for harvested flowers.

The North Carolina General Assembly created the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission in 2000 to lessen the financial impact to farmers and tobacco-related businesses caused by the sharp decline of tobacco in the agricultural economy.