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North Carolina Specialty Crops Program

Specialty Crops Logo

Specialty Crops are new crops that have not been commerically grown in a particular region. Ranging from exotic purple potatoes to more commonly known crops like lettuce, producing specialty crops generally introduces farmers to a new way of growing. The North Carolina Specialty Crops Program was a multi-agency, statewide program dedicated to new crop development. It operated from 1997 to 2008 under the leadership of Barclay Poling (1997-1999), Jeanine Davis (1999-2007), and Bill Jester (2008). The program has now ended due to lack of funding, but Jeanine Davis has agreed to maintain the website with the historical information from the program and to continue to serve as a resource on new and specialty crops for farmers, entrepreneurs and consumers.

News: Herbicide Carryover in Hay, Manure, Compost, and Grass Clippings: Caution to Hay Producers, Livestock Owners, Farmers and Home Gardeners (PDF)


Non-Timber Forest Products

bloodroot flower

The Western North Carolina Forest Products Marketing Project created many useful tools, publications, videos, and an ebook for non-timber forest products producers, buyers, and consumers. This project was funded by federal stimulus funds in the form of a grant.

WNC Forest Products Marketing Project Website


YouTube video picture

Also check out the new eXtension Forest Farming website. It is chock full of information on growing and marketing forest products of all kinds:

eXtension Forest Farming

Events Calendar

Statewide and National Events for Alternative Crops, Herbs, Organics, Specialty Crops, Vegetables

To stay up to date on the latest information on
specialty crops and organics, check our Facebook,
Blogger, and Twitter pages.

Thank you to the Friends of the NC Alternative Crops and Organic Program:

  • Dave Slater
  • Laura Kaderabek
  • Nan Covert
  • Golden Needle Acupuncture Supply
  • Susan Coleman Fedor
  • Rita Pelczar & John Wright
  • Howard Covington
  • Judith Rybicki
  • Thomas G. Miller
  • Jeannie Dunn, Red Moon Herbs
  • Bob Bero, B-Hoppy Candy
  • Kenneth Spapola
  • Curtis Meissner
  • Trent Gilland
  • Steve Propst
  • Janell Kapoor, Ashevillage Institute
  • David Hofshi
  • Mark and Terry Willis
  • Stan Driver, Hoot n' Holler Hops
  • Michelle Lewis, Riverwood Farm
  • Herb Society of America-NC Unit
  • Nancy Long
  • Travis Long
  • Transylvania County Master Gardeners
  • Mrs. E. Rubenstein Chelmis
  • Mr. Frank H. McDowell
  • Ms. Mary Wallace
  • Pangaea Plants LLC

Thank you for your support!

If you would like to donate to our program, too, please fill out this form and mail it in with your check. You can also make donations on-line here.




There is a resurgence of interest in mushroom production and consumption across the state of North Carolina. For
the past 25 years, when farmers asked about growing mushrooms, they were usually referring to shiitake mushrooms grown on oak logs (Our new shiitake publication). But recently, inquiries are coming in on a wider variety of mushrooms including oyster, reishi, and truffles. 

To see what a few of the North Carolina mushroom growers are doing, visit these pages:

Hops, An Up and Coming Crop in North Carolina

More information about hops and other hot crops

The Medicinal Herbs for Commerce Project

This project aimed to provide North Carolina farmers an opportunity to explore the economic feasibility of medicinal herb production. There is valuable information on this website for medicinal herb growers.

Farm Prosperity Project

Dr. Jeanine Davis received a four year grant from the USDA National Research Initiative on small farms and rural communities to study farmland preservation techniques and new crop/new agricultural enterprises as a way to enhance small-farm prosperity. This was a cooperative project with Land of Sky Regional Council, the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, American Farmland Trust, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, and Warren Wilson College. For project results and additional information, visit www.NCherb.org/prosperity/

2015 Vegetable Crop Handbook
for the Southeastern US

2015 Vegetable Crop Handbook cover

Locations of Some Specialty Crops Research Projects that Were Conducted in North Carolina

From 2002-2004, the NC Specialty Crops Program received funding from the GoldenLeaf Foundation to support a large number of research projects and educational programs throughout North Carolina. Reports on many of these projects can be accessed from this interactive state map.

NC Map

Archives for the N.C. Specialty Crops Program Newsletters

A feature of the SCP website, newsletters provided information for growers and others interested in new crops.

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[an error occurred while processing this directive] Updated October 30, 2015by Jeanine Davis