Agriculture

"The Last Barn Dance" tells the story of North Carolina dairy farmer Randy Lewis.
Ted Richardson and Jason Arthurs

    

Randy Lewis' dairy farm has been a gathering place for the people of Eli Whitney, N.C., for more than 50 years.

His family's annual barn dances are living relics of simpler times in North Carolina's agricultural industry.

But the Great Recession forced farmers to find new ways to save those traditions. Many went out of business. Lewis and a handful of others stopped falling further into debt by bottling their own milk. But it remains to be seen whether cultural traditions like the barn dance will stay alive.

Oysters On The Rise

Mar 10, 2015
North Carolina's oyster sales doubled between 2005 and 2012.
Miwok / Flickr Creative Commons

  

Oyster growers, researchers and enthusiasts gather in Raleigh today and tomorrow for the North Carolina Oyster Summit.

Food writer and oyster expert Rowan Jacobsen will give the event's keynote address on the rise of oysterculture in the southeastern U.S. and North Carolina. He wrote a book, A Geography of Oysters: the Connoisseur's Guide to Oyster Eating in North America (Bloomsbury USA/2007).

Photo by Barcelona-based photographer Violeta de Lama, courtesy of Wil Weldon.

More and more people around the world are choosing to get their hands dirty—digging in the dirt in their backyard or at a community garden to plant produce.

Mary-Dell Chilton is a pioneer in the field of agricultural biotechnology. As a young scientist at Washington University, she led the team of researchers that produced the first genetically-modified plant. Chilton moved to North Carolina in the early 1980s to begin her corporate career and has continued to conduct research that shapes the agricultural production of corn, cotton, and other crops.

Oxfam distribution in East Africa, 2011
wikipedia

More than one billion people worldwide do not have enough to eat. Some experts estimate a need for more food in the next 40 years than in the last 10,000. National Geographic contributor Joel Bourne wrote a 2009 cover story, The End of Plenty, about the crisis. He has continued his reporting on the causes of the food shortage crisis and strategies used to address it. Host Frank Stasio talks with Bourne about his work.

Hofmann Forest
Historical State, NCSU Libraries

A resolution may come soon in the case of the Hofmann Forest sale.

N.C. State University is trying to sell the 80,000-acre coastal forest. Opponents say the land serves many vital conservation purposes and should not be sold. 

Since a Wake County Superior Court judge threw out the case last November, opponents have launched two online petitions, flooded the Attorney General’s office with 4,000 emails, and placed hundreds of yard signs across the Triangle and eastern North Carolina.

A picture of a boy and a steer.
Green N' Growing collection / North Carolina State University Libraries

Employees from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension will travel from across the state to Raleigh today and tomorrow to celebrate the organization's 100th anniversary.

The Cooperative Extension is based out of North Carolina State University and NC A&T State University. Their personnel work in every county to connect farmers with new research and technology. But the organization, which runs 4-H, is also invested in helping families in general.

Sheri Schwab is an associate director of the Cooperative Extension at NC State.

Students on a lawn at N.C. State University
Scott Akerman via Flickr

Many studies show that students in rural counties are less likely to go to college, especially four-year or private institutions. Faced with that reality, some university leaders are reconsidering how to attract students from rural communities.

At North Carolina State University, leaders are expanding their current programs that serve and prepare high school students. Earlier this year, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences received a $3 million endowment from a Raleigh couple to help rural students win admission to the university.

Photo: Apples in a farmer's market
Amber Carnes via Flickr

North Carolina lawmakers are looking for ways they can help get fresh fruits and vegetables to corners of the state -- urban and rural -- where they’re difficult to access.

Non-profit organizations and local governments across the country have for years identified areas known as “food deserts” across the country, but the House Committee on Food Desert Zones is the first effort by state lawmakers to address the issue.

Sweet potato fields in Eastern NC.
Bob Is Traveling / Flickr Creative Commons

Many farms spread human waste on cropland to fertilize it. In this case, the waste is called "biosolids". It can carry household chemicals that affect important bacteria, and that can hurt soil health.

The government has had a hard time regulating chemicals in biosolids, because the equipment that measured bacterial gases was very expensive.

But a new report from Duke University's school of engineering shows that bacterial reactions to chemicals can be assessed by changes in color. That's a cheaper test to administer.

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