When leaders of a project designed to provide homegrown, renewable fuels for the military and to strengthen eastern North Carolina agriculture needed help finding the right source crop and testing it locally, they turned to North Carolina State University and its North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service for help.

The project, called “Fuel the Force,” culminated with the shipment of 800 gallons of biodiesel to Camp Lejeune, a large Marine Corps base in Onslow County.

The fuel was made from canola grown on five 5-acre demonstration plots in Jones and Craven counties with the help of North Carolina State’s Jacob Morgan, Matt Veal, John Garner and Mark Seitz.

The North Carolina Eastern Region Military Growth Task Force coordinated the collaborative project. The task force’s mission is to analyze the way rapid military growth impacts the region and to help prepare the region for that growth.

Morgan, an agricultural Extension agent in Jones County, and Seitz, Extension director for Pender County, worked with local farmers and landowners to create the demonstration plots.

Veal, assistant professor of biological and agricultural engineering and Extension bioprocessing specialist, and Garner, superintendent of North Carolina State’s Williamsdale Farm in Wallace, helped plant the crop, harvest the seeds and then crush the seeds to separate the oil from the meal.