Sweetpotato harvest marks the beginning of fall for many North Carolina farmers and a primary fundraising opportunity for the NC State University ASABE chapter.
The student organization holds an annual sweetpotato sale to raise funds for their participation in ASABE events and community service projects throughout the year. Club members recently toured Kornegay Family Farms and Produce, this year’s fundraising donor, to get a behind-the-scenes look at the sweetpotato harvesting process.
Emory New, Biological and Agricultural Engineering student and ASABE president, took time to share details about this year’s sale and how club supporters can purchase or donate a box to others in need.
How did the sweetpotato sale begin as an ASABE fundraiser?
Sweetpotatoes are a staple for the North Carolina agriculture industry with North Carolina leading the nation in production of this amazing orange root.
A few years ago, as ASABE officers were planning out their year and in need of funds, the idea to connect a fundraiser to the advances of the BAE Department came about. Dr. Mike Boyette, was the advisor of the club during this period and is a strong advocate for the NC Sweetpotato Industry. During his time in the Bio and Ag Engineering Department he has transformed the industry through his work in the post harvest handling of this commodity. Due to his efforts and the investments of others, especially the growers, consumers like us are able to enjoy these sweet veggies all year round.
Throughout the years, the money we have raised has allowed ASABE to carry out our mission of connecting students, faculty and industry leaders in areas related to biological engineering like agriculture and water resources. We participate in service events, social outings, industry tours, career fairs and biweekly meetings with leading industry speakers from the area.
Where do the sweetpotatoes come from?
In past years, Vick Family Farms has generously donated between 2000 and 5000 pounds of sweetpotatoes for our fundraiser. We greatly appreciate all their support of our club. This year, not wanting to over extend their kindness to us, we reached out to Kornegay Family Farms and Produce located in Johnston County, NC.
I worked as a special projects and executive assistant intern this summer at the Kornegay farm and learned first hand about the production side of agriculture. During the time spent working there this summer, it was evident how innovative, dedicated, and strategic farmers have to be in order to increase their yields without increasing their inputs. This is extremely valuable for agricultural engineers and a main component as to why we are grateful they are helping to sponsor our club this year.
Our members were able to tour the Kornegay family’s fourth-generation farming operation on October 29 to learn more about how sweetpotatoes travel from the field to our tables, and even see the potatoes that our student members will be packing to send to consumers later this month. On the tour, we were able to visit the field to better understand harvest practices and walk through the packing line where products were being prepared to be shipped across the nation and even exported overseas.
This trip gave our members a greater appreciation for the agricultural industry and especially the hard work that the Kornegay’s put into ensuring they are executing Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) throughout each step of their process. Kornegay Family Farms and Produce are certified in USDA GAP and Global GAP standards.
How will the money be used by the club?
The money we raised from this fundraiser will be used to help send our members to the South East Regional ASABE Rally at Virginia Tech next spring. In the past, we have been able to use this funding to travel to different company tours such as Cotton Inc. and Ag Biome. We also are able to use some of the funding to help purchase supplies for our volunteer efforts in the community. We have been able to participate in the Rocky Branch Stream Clean Up and put together essential baskets for the Green Chair Project.
Due to Covid last year, we had to cut back on how many people were able to help pack and distribute the boxes at one time. We were also not able to meet in person as much as we wanted to last year but this semester we have truly tried to CONNECT with one another!
How can club supporters purchase a box?
If you would like to purchase a 10-pound box of sweetpotatoes or donate a box to the Food Bank if you aren’t able to pick up, please visit this link.