Small Farm Unit
CEFS’ Small Farm Unit (SFU) brings together the resources of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, North Carolina State University, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services and other community partners to deliver research and demonstration of sustainable production and marketing practices to diverse audiences.
The CEFS SFU works in partnership with a network of farmers, educators, students and other community members to develop and support a healthy, viable, community-based food system in Wayne County and beyond.
Small Farm Unit Structure
The Small Farm Unit covers approximately 30 acres with a wide range of soil types, equipment, buildings and educational focal points. The function of the unit is to model a systems-based approach within a whole farm context. Embedded within the farm design are ongoing research projects in systems rotation and other production topics relevant to small farm stakeholders.
In a typical season, the Small Farm Unit produces up to 100 varieties of twenty different kinds of small fruits and vegetables. Farm produce is donated to local community organizations, food kitchens, and shelters. Farm transplants are grown in high tunnels with solar-assisted heating, cutting propane use by two-thirds. The unit composts organic waste, which is incorporated into the farm’s fertility management strategy.
The Small Farm Unit also includes a 15-acre certified organic area and a model GAP (Good Agricultural Practices)-certified postharvest handling area.
The Small Farm Unit is home to various short- and long-term research projects including organic blueberry production (variety yields comparison), organic blackberry production (comparing yields using different trellising systems), greenhouse and high tunnel monitoring (testing various season extension techniques), organic transplant production, and organic systems work (utilizing various cover crops as part of whole season rotation).
Educational and Community Impacts
Each year, hundreds of people visit the Small Farm Unit to learn about sustainable food production. Farmers, extension agents, community members, and home growers learn about new production practices through tours, demonstrations, and workshops on topics including cover crops and rotations, beekeeping, small fruit production, farm equipment selection and use, greenhouse management, alternative enterprises, and more. Since 2006, CEFS’ educational workshops have attracted more than 7,500 attendees to the SFU and other community locations.
The SFU provides “hands-on” learning opportunities for volunteers from Wayne County and surrounding areas, including co-op students from Wayne Community College’s Agricultural Business and Sustainable Agriculture programs and the University of Mount Olive. The SFU also serves undergraduate and graduate students from NC State and N.C. A&T, and provides a living classroom for CEFS’ Farm Apprenticeship and Internship programs.
- Grow Biointensive Farming and Gardening: A Sustainable Agricultural System (2008) Shane McCoy
- Grafting for Disease Resistance in Heirloom Tomatoes (2015) Shane McCoy
- Basics of Composting Poultry Litter and Swine Bedding (2010) Shane McCoy
- Integrated GI Parasite Management Program for Sheep and Goats (2012) Shane McCoy
CEFS is excited to welcome Marisa Benzle, former Small Farm Unit Apprentice, back to CEFS as the Small Farm Unit Manager. Here, Marisa tells us [...]
The Small Farm Unit at CEFS' 2000-acre research facility in Goldsboro, NC is growing a new crop -- of apprentices! Here, we welcome the new [...]