December 2017 — NC Growing Together and NC State Extension are partnering to offer training and resources to farmers and extension agents who are interested in exploring various types of collaborative farming structures  including cooperatives, limited liability companies, partnerships, corporations, and nonprofit associations.

“Volume requirements of larger buyers are very often barriers to smaller-farm entry into the supply chain. Through collaboration farmers can pool supply, as well as share equipment, buy inputs in volume, and create a compelling brand,” said NC Growing Together Project Director Rebecca Dunning.

A new report, Collaborative Farming in NC , explains the different forms of collaborative structures and provides the results of a 2017 study of collaborative farming in North Carolina.  The report was authored by Becky Bowen, J.D.,Program Manager of NC State Extension’s CultivateNC.

“Collaborative farming arrangements across North Carolina vary in type, purpose, size, and effectiveness.  No particular structure guarantees the potential for profitability.  Compatibility, equitable contribution of resources, proper planning, and when feasible, professional management, seem to be the keys to success,” she says.

In 2018, Bowen will be offering half-day workshops on Collaborative Farming in NC: When It Makes Sense to Partner with Others , sponsored by NCGT and co-facilitated by Carolina Common Enterprise, a USDA-supported cooperative development center for the Carolinas.

Workshop dates and locations:
Jan. 31 | Edgecombe Co. Cooperative Extension | 1- 4:30 pm
Feb. 5 | Bladen Co. Cooperative Extension | 1 – 4:30 pm
Feb. 7 | Buncombe Co. Cooperative Extension | 1- 4:30 pm
Feb. 9 | Richmond Co. Cooperative Extension | 1 – 4:30 pm
Feb. 12 | Forsyth Co. Cooperative Extension | 1 – 4:30 pm

The workshops are free, or $20 if you choose to arrive at noon for a local lunch preceding the workshop.  Download this flier for more information, and register online at http://go.ncsu.edu/grants-collaborations-workshop.  For questions, contact Becky Bowen at blbowen@ncsu.edu or (919) 628-4317.