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December 07, 2005

Extension helps with Eastern N.C. agri-cultural trail

Extension employees at dedication
Tom Glasgow, Craven County Extension director; Lin Nichols, Duplin County agri-cultural tourism secretary, Regenia Bell, family and consumer sciences agent, Carteret County; Bill Ellers, Pamlico County Extension director; Ed Emory, Duplin County Extension director, Ray Harris, Carteret County Extension director; and Barry Nash, N.C. State Seafood Lab and N.C. Sea Grant. (Art Latham photo)

North Carolina Cooperative Extension personnel and state Arts Council officials have introduced another in a growing number of Web sites in the HomegrownHandmade.com Agri-Cultural trails series.

These Web pages, part of a Golden LEAF-funded project to boost the rural economies of many formerly tobacco-dependent North Carolina counties, promote Internet-accessible, do-it-yourself car tour guides along once-anonymous country roads to ag and cultural sites, as well as helping farmers find new ways to market value-added agriculture-related products and services. The trails provide visitors with activities such as festivals, "pick your own" farms and art galleries, always combining the arts with agriculture.

The newest trail, unveiled in October at kickoff ceremonies before about 30 attendees at the Maritime Museum in Beaufort, is called “Coastal Treasure Chest.” It includes possible tourist destinations in Pamlico, Craven and Carteret counties. Membership listings on the trail page are free if participants meet stated conditions.

Coastal Treasure Chest is the eighth in a series that eventually will encompass 77 of the state's 100 counties, says Ed Emory, Cooperative Extension director for Duplin County and a force behind the steadily growing agri-cultural tourism business in Eastern North Carolina.

“Similar trails are being developed in the Eastern Piedmont, along the Interstate 95 corridor and the ‘heartland’ areas,” says Emory.

Cooperative Extension has been instrumental in developing agricultural tourism in our state. Agri-cultural tourism, an aspect of heritage tourism, promotes preserving cultural, natural and historic uniqueness, protecting resources through stewardship and sustainable use and promoting North Carolina as a top tourist destination.

“The demand for programming and technical assistance for new and existing agricultural tourism enterprises has been overwhelming,” Emory says.

In addition to media and museum representatives, joining Emory were county Extension directors Bill Ellers, Pamlico; Tom Glasgow, Craven; and Ray Harris, Carteret. Also attending were Regenia Bell, family and consumer sciences agent, Carteret; Barry Nash, N.C. State Seafood Lab and N.C. Sea Grant; and Lin Nichols, agri-cultural tourism secretary, Duplin.

Also present were local historic attraction personnel, such as Patricia Suggs, Beaufort Historic Site executive director and several business owners who had just joined or were intending to sign on for the trail.

-A. Latham

Posted by Natalie at December 7, 2005 02:12 PM