Case Studies of Successful Small Scale Farming in North Carolina

The goal of this study focuses on determining factors that contribute to a successful small farm in North Carolina and on identifying ways to further enhance successful small farming. North Carolina farms vary extensively in size and other characteristics, ranging from very small retirement and residential farms to establishments with millions of dollars in sales. Farming continues to be a distinctive industry in part because most production, even among very large farms, is carried out on family-operated farms whose operators often balance farm and off-farm employment and investment decisions. The case studies of successful small farmers conducted in November 2007 were the primary sources of data. The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Program identified three “successful” farmers from its sampling frame to participate in the case studies. Researchers identified sets of variables associated with small farm success through various literature, published and unpublished reports and recommendations from experts in the field. After the variables were operationalized, a questionnaire was developed as a guide for conducting the case studies interview protocols. Each case study consisted of a one-visit protocol with electronic follow-up. Researchers conducted on-site interviews, and then toured the individual farms. The case study farmers used a diverse mix of enterprises including specialty crops and a combination of marketing strategies. The educational level ranged from post high school to Ph.D. although all farmers attended several workshops. All farmers minimized risk through diversity, contractual sales and insurance. Only one farmer used computers for record keeping and finance. The overall “love of farming” seemed to be the biggest driving force behind the farmer’s view of success.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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