Learn How To Generate Revenue With A Small Farm

The Bee
Daingerfield, TX
March 9, 2011

Learn how to generate revenue with a small farm


Sid Greer will be one of the speakers for Living from the Ground Up on March 25
BY Susan Taft

When you sit down to dinner tonight, with three portions of food on your plate, that food will have traveled somewhere between 1,800 and 2,000 miles to get to your dinner table.
Whether you’d like to reduce that distance to feet instead of miles or be the one to provide food to your neighbors, the Living from the Ground Up conference at Northeast Texas Community College is for you. The event will be held at the college’s Elizabeth Hoggatt Whatley Agriculture Complex March 25 and 26.
“The goal is that presenters will share their personal experiences of running small farms and sustainable agricultural operations, good and bad,” said Dr. Charlie Apter, director of agriculture at NTCC.
Pittsburg native, Howard Garrett, better known as the Dirt Doctor, will give the keynote address at 9:15 on March 25. Mr. Garrett is a leader in the natural organic marketplace and provides advice on natural organic gardening, landscaping, pet health, pest control and natural living via a nationally-syndicated radio talk show and in his column, Organic Answers in The Dallas Morning News.
Three tracks, or break-out sessions, will be presented: vegetable/plant, agrotourism/business/marketing and alternative agriculture.
“People can jump around; they don’t have to stay in a particular track,” Dr. Apter said.
Presenters will include area residents Greg Efurd, with Efurd Orchards Inc.; Ray Fulks, Repeat Ranch; Sid Greer, Greer Farms; and John Kilburn, Comeback Creek.
Mr. Efurd is a second-generation farmer in Camp County who owns and manages Efurd’s Orchards with his parents. Dr. Apter said their successful business is well known throughout the state with many long-time customers.
Mr. Fulks, a Hughes Springs resident, is a CPA and retired president of five community banks who is now a full-time rancher. He will talk about his experiences with his grass-fed beef operation.
Mr. Greer is the owner of Greer Farm in Daingerfield, a diversified sustainable agriculture enterprise with agrotourism. Mr. Greer will speak on agro-tourism.
“He has cabins for rent for overnight stay; people can come and pick blackberries and blueberries. They can come just enjoy the countryside, or they can take cooking classes,” Dr. Apter said.
Mr. Kilburn left the corporate world in 2005 and has been running Comeback Creek, a small farm in Pittsburg, which produces organically-grown vegetables and fruit, ever since.
“He started a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) operation with a website,” Dr. Apter said. “This is mostly a subscription where you get a vegetable delivery once or twice or three times a week. It’s locally produced food, and the emphasis is on the seasonality. He has a cooperative set-up with Texas Daily Harvest, an organic dairy in Yantis, and they deliver organic milk in Dallas every day. They piggy back vegetables with milk, eggs and cheese from the dairy, and it’s delivered right to the customers’ doors.”
Others speaking on vegetables and plants will be Joe Masabni, extension vegetable specialist from College Station whose topic will be “So you’re interested in truck farming? How-tos;” Robert Grant, Texas AgriLife Extension, Daingerfield, “Greenhousing and using plastic in vegetable production;” and Eric Lum, Moss Springs Farms in New Boston, “Blackberry production in East Texas.”
In the agrotourism/business/marketing track, you will not only hear from Mr. Greer and Mr. Efurd, but also Benny Moore of O’Farrell Country Vineyards in Atlanta.
“He has a winery in Atlanta that is muscadine grapes,” Dr. Apter said. “It is a you-pick muscadine and winery operation that is pretty unusual.”
Linda Parker, with the Texas Department of Agriculture will speak on The GoTexan program and the benefits of marketing your product to the Texas market.
Jolene Wilson, owner of Holly Hill Homestead in Hughes Springs, will join Mr. Fulks in the alternative agriculture track. She will speak on “Herbs: An alternative and niche crop.” Mr. Garrett will hold a question and answer session about organics from 3:30 until 4:20 p.m., and Robert Hutchins, owner of Rehoboth ranch in Greenville, will speak on pastured poultry and pork.
“He has about 300 acres, and it’s all organic,” Dr. Apter said. “He does organic beef, organic pork, and he slaughters about 20,000 organic chickens every year. He also has an organic dairy with goats. He is expecting to gross $400,000 this year, and basically his only outlet for marketing is four or five farmers markets in the Dallas area.”
Sources of funding will also be discussed with input from the Texas Department of Agriculture, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the United States Department of Agriculture and Small Business Development Center.
The NTCC ag department will hold a free open house celebrating the grand opening of the Elizabeth Hoggatt Whatley Ag Complex from10 a.m. until 2 p.m. March 26. The open house will include building tours and presentations on sustainable agriculture, alternative energy, backyard vegetable gardening, cooking and soap making.
Dr. Apter said the completion of the ag complex would not have been possible without a $900,000 donation from Mrs. Whatley, a former Camp County resident.
“The Elizabeth Hoggatt Whatley Ag Complex will be the only LEED platinum agriculture building in the state, to our knowledge,” Dr. Apter said. “It is even more unique in that we anticipate it being designated a zeronet energy (ZNE) building. It is not 100 percent off the grid, meaning it does not produce 100 percent of its power/electrical needs. However, on an annual basis, its energy consumption is zero because the quantity of energy purchased is approximately offset by the wind- and solar-produced energy. This means that the building’s ‘carbon footprint’ is probably zero also, unless the aerobic septic system or other non-energy elements are producing CO2.”
Vendors will be on- site both days with displays appropriate for and of interest to small farm producers and those interested in sustainable rural living.
Deadline for registration for Living from the Ground Up is 5 p.m. March 21. The cost is $50 for Camp, Morris and Titus county residents as well as for educators, and $75 for all others. To register, contact Charla Hunt, 903-434-9207, chunt@ntcc.edu. More information can be found at www.livingfromthegroundup.com.