'In Charge': Williams Is Go-To Guy for Things Horticultural
No, he's not Agent 007, but Taylor Williams has more up his sleeve than one might imagine.
He has been the top-notch supporter of farmers, landscapers, home gardeners and, of course, Master Gardeners for several years. He not only offers an abundance of horticultural information, but opportunities to learn and utilize great respect of nature, taking it to the next level of production.
Since 1995, Williams has worked for North Carolina Cooperative Extension as an agricultural extension agent in Lee County, an area specialized agent in Lee, Moore and Richmond counties, county extension director in Richmond County and now is the agricultural extension agent in Moore County, becoming proactive for a more clear understanding of the environment for farmers, gardeners and youth.
"The more we appreciate the environment, the more we realize what a unique place it is," says Williams. "We need to protect it. People have under-invested in agriculture and a solid practical understanding about the way the world works."
Williams befriends the farmers.
"They provide materials for us to live," he says. "When we pay for food, we pay less than any other society, and the farmers receive an extremely small part of the profits. We have to remember that farmers are creating jobs for the rest of us. They are the bedrock upon which the rest of us are living."
Williams is confident that anyone can produce crops.
"Even a 4-foot bed can produce $1,000 to $2,000 worth of stuff," he says. "The size of the land doesn't matter. If you build a raised bed for gardening, or grow just an acre or two of cover crops, you can produce and feed the family. Any home gardener can grow food. We're living in an age of sustainability, and more people are becoming aware of what they can do."
Williams is involved with every aspect of agriculture both in and outside of the county. He has recently partnered with Paige Burns, the horticulture agent in Richmond County to present the "Farmer to Farmer" program. Through this program participants take trips to other organic farms that are doing different kinds of farming and try to get a handle on aspects such as organics.
Through the program, adult workshops will be offered in both Richmond and Moore counties. According to Williams, the first session will be held Monday, Feb. 9, in Richmond County at the Ag Center in Rockingham from 6:30 to 9 p.m. The topic is "What is Organics?"'
On Monday, Feb. 23, the topic of soil building for production of vegetables will be held in the same location at the same time. And Thursday, Feb. 26, a pest management course will be offered.
In Moore County, "What is Organics?" workshop will be held Thursday, March 5, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Ag. Center in Carthage. On Tuesday, March 10, "A Soil Building" workshop will be offered from 10 a.m. to noon at Armory Park. All workshops are free of charge.
"The workshops are intended to help the economy," says Williams. "We want to help people save money by learning and growing their own crops. How to grow your own organic garden helps minimize costs."
"And to grow a biological sustainable garden for homeowners and farmers is a positive objective. There is a certain 'wealth' provided by the farmers. Without them our lives would change considerably. In real estate, we have over-built, and created a fuel crisis. We have an obesity epidemic because we overeat. Getting back to the land is a primary goal, getting back to what is important."
Although the terms "organic" and "sustainability" have become key words in the horticultural arena, it is not always easy to convert traditional crop production.
"We are always putting emphasis on alternative crops as organics enter the market," Williams says.
Williams' plate is filled with meetings, site visits and educational projects. He oversees the Master Gardener program, community and youth project gardening, which involves several organizations as well as schools, xeriscape gardening, which is an alternative choice for drought, adult education, demo gardens and wildlife garden programs.
"Our motto," says Williams, "'empowering people and providing solutions' is not just what I think, but what seems to be working."
For further information regarding the workshops, call (910) 947-3188 in Moore County or (910) 997-8255 in Richmond County.
Contact Raleigh freelance writer Anita Stone at email@example.com.
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