Moore County Extension Master Gardeners Awarded

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The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service recognized the work of the Moore County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers (EMGV) on the Sandhills Farm Tour 2019 with the Search for Excellence award for Community Service. 

The Search for Excellence is the recognition program of Extension Master Gardener volunteer work throughout North Carolina. The awards program recognizes outstanding educational, group projects that result in significant learning by the public or EMGVs.

Held annually since 2017, the Sandhills Farm Tour gives the public special access to a selection of Moore County farms that participate in local food production. The tour is planned and managed by EMGVs. It offers people the opportunity to connect with farmers, learn about their products and methods to increase support of locally grown food. 

In 2019, 13 farms opened their gates, attracting over 1,000 visitors from the Sandhills region. Those farms included:

• Ladybug Farm, Pinebluff

• Billy Carter Farms and Ken Chappell Peaches, Eagle Springs

• Eagle’s Nest Berry Farm, Jackson Springs

• The Berry Patch, Ellerbe

• Green Haven Plant Farm and Olde Carthage Farm, Carthage 

• Slow Farm and White Hill Farms, Cameron

• Misty Morning Ranch and Possum Run Garden Center, Robbins

• Steve McNeill Farms, Lemon Springs.

The Sandhills Farm Tour 2019 planning committee included EMGVs Janice Hiltner, Diane Innes, Lisa Laidlaw, Cheryl Stuckey and Claudia Watson. Also, 60 EMGVs volunteered at the farms during the tour. Taylor Williams, who served as Moore County’s extension agent, and is now retired, managed the program. 

“These tours allow people to connect with farmers and gain first-hand knowledge of the challenges they face. It offers awareness of how complex farming is and all the skills farmers need today,” says Hiltner.

The annual farm tours are planned and managed by EMGV volunteers, who complete a rigorous training series. They are often the public’s introduction to the Moore County Cooperative Extension Service. EMGVs are responsible for dispersing validated research-based Extension information and resources on sustainable lawn and gardening practices to residents and homeowners. 

“Our Master Gardeners are an invaluable resource for the Cooperative Extension Service and to Moore County citizens,” says Deborah McGiffin, Moore County Extension director. “They serve as a conduit between the public and agriculture by presenting programs and events that emphasize how our farms produce food. These farms contribute to the environmental and economic viability of Moore County.” 

The spring event was canceled this year due to coronavirus. Planning is underway for the Sandhills Farm Tour 2021, scheduled for April 24.

If you would like more information about this topic or to schedule an interview with Deborah McGiffin, director of the Moore County Extension office, call (910) 947-3188 or email Deborah_mcgiffin@ncsu.edu.

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