WCC will host regional agriculture business summit

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Are you interested in starting a food-based business, selling locally at a farmers market, offering agritourism at an existing farm, exploring new revenue streams from farm crop waste or growing industrial hemp?

These topics and more will be addressed when Wilson Community College hosts a group of local and regional agriculture speakers on Nov. 30 in the Frank L. Eagles Community Business Center for a full-day ag summit, “The NEW Business of Agriculture: Regional Opportunities for Growth in Nash, Edgecombe and Wilson Counties.”

The event will offer information and resources for food and farming businesses in the region and is intended for existing business owners and prospective agricultural entrepreneurs alike.

Keynote speaker Debbie Hamrick of the N.C. Farm Bureau Federation will share insights on the future of agriculture in eastern North Carolina. The event will include speakers and panelists from 30 regional agriculture specialists and farmers sharing best practices to include Angela Post sharing recent hemp trial results from the N.C. State University Rocky Mount Research Station; Sandy Kronick, CEO of Eastern Carolina Organics, sharing the market potential of organic crops in the region; Thomas Joyner from Nash Produce speaking about regional opportunities in the row crop vegetable market; Minoo Mehrotra, N.C. Department of Agriculture tchnical trainer, discussing value-added food production from a home or commercial kitchen; and Annette Dunlap, N.C. Department of Agriculture food business specialist, discussing opportunities and resources to sell beyond traditional grocery stores.

New farmers, veterans and those considering innovative operations are encouraged to attend a funding session. During lunch, participants will hear about a local food-manufacturing project followed by an update on area local food councils and a discussion with successful growers, buyers, and distributors.

The summit is a collaboration between the Small Business Center directors at Wilson, Nash and Edgecombe community colleges, North Carolina Growing Together Project/Center for Environmental Farming Systems at N.C. State University, the Upper Coastal Plains Council of Governments, Self-Help Credit Union and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

N.C. Cooperative Extension directors from all three counties will be present to facilitate and offer their services to attendees. The Wilson Community College culinary program will be serving a lunch sourced from local and regional producers.

Attendees are asked to register online at www.wilsoncc.edu/new-ag-summit/ by Nov. 21 to reserve their spot, as space is limited. Registration and admission are free.

For questions, contact Melissa Evans, SBC director, at 252-246-1232, or Lisa Morgan, SBC administrative assistant, at 252-246-1209.