Diversifying farmers in western North Carolina are receiving support to offset the risk of expanding and trying new ventures. WNC Agricultural Options awarded 40 farm businesses a total of $216,000 in $3,000 and $6,000 grants. Macon County farm business The Flower Company received a grant to increase production of specialty cut flowers.
Eight of the farm businesses received $3,000 and 32 received $6,000. The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission is the exclusive financial supporter of WNC AgOptions, which aims to build sustainable farming communities in the mountain region by providing resources directly to farmers.
“The WNC AgOptions program has proven success stories,” said Bill Teague, Chairman of the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. “We continue to be amazed at how these producers utilize these funds to ensure their family farms grow and remain profitable.”
Since 1997, Daniel and Lori have operated The Flower Company Farmer and Florist in Otto, NC. As a full-service florist, the Cabes specialize in local grown specialty cut flowers including dahlias and uncommonly found cut flower varieties such as zinnia, cosmos, larkspur, lily, yarrow, sedum, hydrangea and others. They service weddings, events, restaurants, country clubs and churches, while taking daily orders online from their website, including delivery services. To meet the extremely high demand of dahlias and specialty cut flowers in all their markets, Daniel and Lori will be expanding their crops to triple dahlia production and double other specialty cut flower varieties. They will purchase seeds, plugs, dahlia bulbs and soil amendments. Not only will production increase, they anticipate becoming the largest and most successful flower farm and florist in western North Carolina.
“N.C. Cooperative Extension is excited to be a part of a program that is making such impressive impacts in the agricultural community,” said Ross Young, Madison County Extension Director and WNC AgOptions steering committee leader. “Agriculture is a thriving and ever-changing economic engine in western North Carolina with new enterprises and creative ideas emerging daily. WNC AgOptions plays a crucial role in helping many of these farmers fulfill a dream that may not be attainable otherwise.”
The administrator of WNC AgOptions is WNC Communities, a non-profit organization that has been supporting agriculture in the region since 1947. WNC Communities provides a unique forum for leaders in western North Carolina to carry out innovative programs to improve the quality of life for rural communities, as well as managing programs to enhance the agriculture and forestry sectors.
“WNC Communities is honored to be the administrator of this annual funding opportunity designed to support farmers in their quest to try new techniques or implement innovative farming practices,” said Jennifer Ferre, Executive Director of WNC Communities. “WNC AgOptions strengthens our agricultural community, ultimately benefiting us all.”
Members of the WNC AgOptions steering committee include: representatives from N.C. Cooperative Extension, N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services–Marketing Division, WNC Communities, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and other leaders in agribusiness. For more information, see the following: WNC Agricultural Options: www.wncagoptions.org; N.C. Cooperative Extension Centers: www.ces.ncsu.edu; N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission: www.tobaccotrustfund.org; WNC Communities: www.wnccommunities.org.