In these days of low commodity prices, growers of specialty crops have found a way to survive offering what the public wants.

Several specialty crop producers will discuss their successes at the 2003 Northern Piedmont Specialty Crops School on tap for Feb. 28 at the Regency Inn at the junction of I-85 and North Carolina State Road 96 (Exit 204) in Oxford, N.C.

The cost of the one-day school is $25 for the first person in the family or business and includes lunch and a copy of the school’s proceedings. The cost is $15 for each additional person in the family or business, which does not include a copy of the proceedings.

Wendy Wright of Hill High Farm in Winchester, Va., will begin the program discussing the specialty crops she and her husband grow. The Wrights grow pumpkins and apples, and offer value-added products such as cider, pumpkin fudge and homemade pies and cakes. They also sell Indian corn, chrysanthemums and corn shucks for outdoor fall decorating and offer school and church group tours.

John J. Whitmore, who describes himself as a farmer-entrepreneur, grows fruits and vegetables in the upscale horse country outside of Leesburg, Va. His Farmer John’s Roadside Stand sits in front of Whitmore’s historic Prosper Well Farm home. He sells produce and has a large Asian clientele that buys specialty cucumbers and white eggplant. Whitmore will discuss how his operation got started and how it has grown over the years.

Debbie Roos, an Extension agent in Chatham County, N.C., will discuss ways to encourage beneficial insects on your farm.

Andy Hankins, an alternative agriculture specialist with the University of Virginia in Petersburg, will discuss growing cut flowers as a niche market to generate impulse sales.

Carl Cantaluppi, the North Carolina State Extension horticulture agent in Granville and Person counties, will report on the first-year success of the Oxford Wholesale Produce Auction.

For more information on the Northern Piedmont Specialty Crops School, contact Cantaluppi at 919-603-1350 or e-mail him at carl_cantaluppi@ncsu.edu.