A tough farming year

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer

“Overall, it’s been a really tough year for farming,” said Jackson County farmer William Shelton as he reflected back on 2007.

“It’s one for the history books,” agreed Bill Skelton, director of the N.C. Cooperative Extension in Haywood County.

Getting close to the food you eat

By Adam Bigelow • Guest Columnist

The morning chill had lifted, mist had risen into the air, and as I walked towards the waiting group I had no idea what to expect from this day. We were all here for the same purpose, and my apprehension had not dissolved with the mist. I was running late this morning and afraid that I had missed the event, but out of the corner of my eye I saw the guest of honor. Tied to a swing set. Awaiting his fate.

A labor of love: Skipper Russell’s Cold Mountain Corn Maize raises support for cancer research

By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer

Bright yellow sunflowers ring the edges of Skipper Russell’s Cold Mountain Corn Maize in Canton, a memorial to his wife, Frances, who lost her battle with renal cell and thyroid cancer this February.

Haywood to create farmland protection plan

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer

Haywood County commissioners have agreed to pay for the creation of a farmland protection plan they hope will guide efforts to preserve the region’s farming tradition for generations to come.

Saving farms is not about nostalgia

If you think taking tangible steps to protect farmland is more about nostalgia than anything else, guess again. As change continues at its rapidly accelerating pace, having protected private land on which to grow crops could become an important part of the American economy.

Farmers increasingly feel forced off their own land

Butch Deals’ day doesn’t fit the image of the simple farming life.

Perched in the air-conditioned cab of a John Deere towing a baler across raked winnows of straw, Deals’ cell phone traffic rivaled that of a busy banker or real estate broker. A truck load of migrant workers finished unloading straw bales at the barn and needed their next assignment. A produce buyer wanted to negotiate a contract for Deals’ tomato field, offering a lump sum and a little labor in exchange for the finished crop come fall. A farm insurance agent settling a crop disaster claim for an unfortunate late spring freeze that ruined Deals’ apple crop last year had gotten lost on the way to the farm and needed directions.

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