Monday, March 14, 2011

Agricultural Summit to be held March 21

The 13th annual Orange County Agricultural Summit will be held March 21 at the Ruritan Club, 6116 Efland-Cedar Grove Road in Cedar Grove, one of the county's most well-known farming communities. In addition to a full slate of agricultural topics, Joe Thompson, owner of Thompson’s Prawn Farm, is being honored as the 2010 N.C. Small Farmer of the Year.

Three tour stops are planned for the afternoon of the Summit: Thompson Prawn Farm, Tiny Farm and the Piedmont Food and Agricultural Processing Center.

Thompson will talk about his prawn farm, his plans to vertically integrate his business by adding a juvenile prawn production facility to supply his farm and other regional prawn farms, as well as a discussion of his involvement in programs to purchase the development rights on his farm.

Tiny Farm, owned by Mark Hockney, is located just northeast of Hillsborough. Hockney grows and sells lettuce and other greens to high-end restaurants and farmers markets year-round. It has become a highly efficient and profitable agricultural business that uses high tunnels for season extension of fresh locally grown vegetables.

Participants can get a sneak preview of the 10,400-square-foot Piedmont Food & Agricultural Processing Center (PFAP), a farm and food business incubator scheduled to open in April 2011. Currently under renovation, PFAP will have two commercial kitchens, a multi-use facility, vegetable and fruit processing equipment, and entrepreneur offices geared to launch new businesses that value locally produced farm products.

The summit fee is $10. Registration will take place from 8:00 to 8:30 a.m. A sponsored lunch made with locally grown products will be served. Seating is limited.

To reserve a spot, contact the Orange County Cooperative Extension office at (919) 245-2050. For additional information, including the agenda and driving directions, visit

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