eNews February 2014

In this edition:

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Opportunities in Organic Production Workshop

Organic Commodities & Livestock ConferenceRegister by February 6!

Community Forum: FSMA Update

Retail Ready Workshops – Bolivia, NC; Charleston SC; Gaston, NC

Midlands Farm Tour – Tickets available!

More Spring Farm Tours – Save the dates!

 

CFSA RESOURCES:

Conservation and Environmental Planning Services in 2014

 

ACTION ALERT:

Farm Bill Update

 

CFSA NEWS:

Beaufort County Food Council Exploration

CFSA Meets with NC House Committee on Food Desert Zones

WE’RE HIRING! Produce Safety Coordinator

CONNECT Our Future Food Systems Engagement

Upstate Food Hub 2014 brings hundreds of local food producers and buyers together

Interview Series – Experts in the Field at SAC 2013

 

EXPERT TIPS:

Estimating Nitrogen Production from Cover Crops

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UPCOMING EVENTS:

Opportunities in Organic Production

February 6, 1-4 p.m.

CFSA and NC Cooperative Extension agents in Moore, Lee, and Richland counties are offering a free workshop on Opportunities in Organic Production at the Moore County Extension Center, 707 Pinehurst Ave, Carthage, NC 28327

Agenda:  Growing Opportunities in the Organic Market, Enterprise Budgets for Organic Fruit and Vegetables Organic Certification Process, Intro to Organic Production, Q & A Panel

Speakers:    

  • Keith Baldwin, PhD., Farm Services Coordinator, CFSA
  • Paige Burns, Hort. Ext. Agent, Richmond County
  • Thomas Locke, Outreach Coordinator, CFSA
  • Karen McSwain, Farm Services Director, CFSA
  • Panel of local organic farmers

REGISTRATION:  Free!  Please call the Extension Office at 910-947-3188 to register.

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oclc2014

Organic Commodities and Livestock Conference – Register by February 6!

One-day event – $45 (includes lunch)

Rocky Mount, NC; Wednesday, Feb. 12: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Register Today:  www.carolinafarmstewards.org/oclc/

Or Give Us a Call: 919-542-2402

This event is for larger-scale farmers and ranchers who are already growing organically or who want to learn more about organic methods and markets.  It’s a great chance to hear the latest news and research on organics, meet other farmers and resource people, and enhance or jump start your own organic projects.

Featured speakers:

  • Oren Holle, nationally-known farmer from Kansas, will discuss OFARM, an innovative multi-state cooperative helping organic farmers maximize their pricing.
  • Chris Reberg-Horton from NC State will provide an update on the university’s path-breaking organic field trials.  He’ll discuss a variety of common and not-so-common grains appropriate for the Carolinas.
  • Julie Grossman, soil scientist, will lead a workshop on the latest ideas for cover crops and soil fertility on larger-scale organic operations.
  • AJ Luft, popular veterinarian from Ohio, will discuss his experiences working with organic herds and holistic animal management.
  • Expert CFSA Staff discussing The Benefits of Going Organic, Meat Marketing and Organic Inputs.

Plus, information on market updates and best avenues to sell organic commodities and livestock.

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Community Forum: FSMA Update

February 20, 6-8 p.m.

Wake County Cooperative Extension & Farm Bureau are hosting the forum, which will include dinner, followed by a panel of experts discussing the FSMA and answering attendee’s questions.

Panelists include:

  • Roland McReynolds, Executive Director, CFSA
  • Eduardo Gutierrez-Rodriguez, Assistant Professor – Extension Specialist, Fresh Produce Safety, NC State University
  • Anita MacMullan, Agricultural Program Specialist, NCDA
  • John O’Sullivan, Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Local Food Systems, Director of CEFS

Location: Wake County Commons Building, 4011 Carya Drive Raleigh, NC 27610

RSVP (required for dinner) to Victoria Whitener by February 18, (919) 815-5628 or victoria.whitener@ncfbssc.com

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Retail Ready Workshops

Now more than ever, farmers have the opportunity to sell their products for retail sale in grocery stores and co-ops. What do you need to do to successfully sell to larger customers? Researchers have been talking with retail buyers and have fresh insights into what works and what doesn’t.

Bolivia, NC – February 21

Charleston, SC – February 28

Gaston, NC – March 5

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Midlands SC Farm Tour

Saturday and Sunday April 5-6, 2014, 1-5pm

TICKETS ON SALE NOW – https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/mft/

The second annual Midlands Farm Tour, happening Saturday and Sunday, April 5-6, 2014 from 1:00-5:00 PM both days, will feature 10 local, sustainable farms. This self-guided tour features working farms and gardens in Richland, Lexington, and Kershaw counties and taps into the Midland’s growing passion for local food and farming.
Some of the unique things to see and do on the tour:

  • See lots of cute baby farm animals, including baby chicks, pigs and goats;
  • Learn gardening and growing techniques such as Square Foot Gardening, Permaculture, Hydroponics, and Raised Vegetable Beds;
  • Check out how they grow vegetables, fruits, flowers, mushrooms and more without harmful pesticides;
  • Learn more about what it really means to “eat like a pig’ and why farm animals love pasture;
  • Enjoy a farm-fresh picnic or snack with food and treats sold at the farms;
  • Teach your children where their food comes from, play fun farm games, and more!

“So many children have read story books about farms and farm animals, but have never actually seen a farm. By touring, children learn where their food comes from and what a real farm is,” said Roland McReynolds, CFSA Executive Director. “It’s a great way to see how food is produced on sustainable small farms and support the local farmer who grows it!”
Tour tickets, good for both days, are $25 per vehicle in advance. Tickets are available for purchase during the tour for $30 or you can also choose to pay $10 per farm (available for purchase at all of the farms during the tour). Groups of cycles count as one vehicle. Tickets can be purchased online now at https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/mft/ or at Whole Foods Market and City Roots in Columbia closer to the event date.

The tour is self-guided. Choose the farms you want to visit on the interactive map or downloadable brochure at https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/mft/ to plan your tour. Visit any farm in any order. And, don’t forget to take a cooler so that you can bring home some of the farm fresh products for sale at many farms! No pets allowed. The tour is rain or shine. Proceeds from the tour support the work of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.

The 10 farms and gardens on the tour, all within a about a 40-mile drive from Columbia, are:

  • City Roots, Columbia
  • University of SC Farm & Garden, Columbia
  • NOMA Community Garden, Columbia
  • Terra Kotta Farms, Leesville
  • Humble Farm, Gilbert – NEW!
  • Doko Farms, Blythewood
  • Crooked Cedar Farm, Blythewood
  • Paradise Acres Farm, Elgin
  • Wil-Moore Farms, Lugoff
  • Carolina Bay Farms, Hopkins

VOLUNTEER!

We hope to see lots of you on the spring tour. And don’t forget that we need lots of on-farm volunteers. Volunteering on a farm is a great way to support the cause!
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Vanessa Driscoll – CFSA’s Midlands Farm Tour Coordinator, (919) 542-2402

Proudly presented by: CFSA
Proudly sponsored by: Whole Foods Market

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More CFSA Spring Farm Tours to Come – Save the Dates!

CFSA is hosting four fantastic farm tours this spring, including the all-new Triad Farm Tour!

  • Midlands SC Farm Tour – April 5-6
  • Piedmont NC Farm Tour – April 26-27
  • Triad NC – June 7-8
  • Upstate SC Farm Tours – June 7-8

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CFSA RESOURCES:

CFSA Conservation and Environmental Planning Services in 2014

Enrollment is currently underway for the USDA EQIP Organic Initiative (OI) in South Carolina. Organic producers who are interested in funding for adopting conservation practices on their farms should contact their local NRCS office to submit an application. The current application reception deadline is February 21, 2014. Visit their website, http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/sc/home/ for information on “batching” periods. As USDA is promoting the Organic Initiative in 2014, announcements on additional application reception periods are expected this spring.

In 2013, SC NRCS only spent about 15% of the EQIP-OI money that was available to transitioning and certified organic producers. Applications for additional conservation practices would have been funded if more transitional and organic growers had applied. In 2014, producers who apply and qualify for EQIP-OI are likely to have their applications approved and funded.

Practices such as the establishment of soil-building rotations, field borders and buffers, hedgerows, windbreaks and shelterbelts and beneficial and wildlife habitat will be funded. Organic nutrient management, rotation and cover cropping plans will be funded. Applications will be accepted for wells and irrigation infrastructure for agronomic and specialty crop production. This year, the OI will provide funding for larger seasonal high tunnels. Growers applying for “Mulching” (Practice 484) will receive funding to purchase compost, small grain straw or pine bark to mulch crops. Transitioning or certified organic livestock producers can apply for funding for pasture establishment, fencing and watering facilities and other practices.

This is an opportunity that is not to be missed. Farm size is not an obstacle. The only requirement is that a producer had $1000 in farm income in 2013.

In addition to individual conservation practices, the EQIP OI will provide funding for the development of Conservation Activity Plans. These are plans that address “whole systems” planning on transitioning and organic farms; for example, “Transition to Organic” (CAP 138) and “Nutrient Management” (CAP 104). Information about the SC Organic Initiative can be found at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/sc/programs/?cid=nrcs142p2_015535.

In 2014 Farm Services Coordinator Keith Baldwin will continue writing CAP 138 plans in South Carolina and will be certified to write CAP 104 plans. He will also be available to transitional and certified producers as an EQIP consultant, assisting producers with selection of EQIP practices that are appropriate for their farms. Information about CFSA’s Conservation Planning Program, including CAPs can be found at https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/cap-consulting-services/. EQIP funding for approved CAPs from the OI are shared between CFSA and the producer.

If you would like to find out more about the NRCS EQIP-OI and the process for submitting applications for EQIP-OI conservation practices or CAPs, contact Keith Baldwin at CFSA (keith@) or 919.302.3871.

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ACTION ALERT:

Farm Bill Update

The House passed a new five-year Farm Bill on the morning of Wednesday, January 29, 2014 with a 251-166 vote. The Senate hopes to send it onto President Barack Obama as soon as possible. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture with the vote set for late Monday, February 3. Assuming that proponents get the required 60 votes, the vote on final passage will likely come on Tuesday, February 4.

Late last year the US House and Senate both included historic, bipartisan reforms of the Farm Bill subsidy programs that prop up our crony capitalist agriculture system today.Those reforms included a $50,000 annual limit on payments to individual farm operators, and this was a huge victory. Since these were bipartisan reforms, included in both versions of the bill, it seemed like meaningful reform of agriculture might actually happen.

But in the back rooms where the final Farm Bill was negotiated, those reforms were stripped out. Instead of a $50,000 annual limit on the primary payments (or double that for married couples), the lead negotiators decided instead on a $125,000 limit (again, doubled for married couples). In other words, they have increased the House and Senate-passed bipartisan agreement by 150 percent, an egregious increase showing profound disrespect for the democratic process and the normal rules of Congress.

Even that appalling give-away was not enough. In addition, the lead negotiators decided not to adopt the House and Senate-passed provisions to close the loopholes that currently allow corporate mega-farms to collect many multiples of the nominal payment limit. Instead, they have left the loopholes entirely in place.

The result will is an uncapped, unlimited entitlement that will continue to be riddled with fraud and abuse and continue to waste taxpayers money, transferring government subsidies from less well off taxpayers to corporate mega farms, perpetuating capital-intensive chemical- and GMO-based farming. All while putting rank and file family farmers at an artificial government-sanctioned competitive disadvantage and shutting beginning farmers out of the land market.

The final bill does include funding for important sustainable agriculture programs. It renews critical investments in important programs for beginning farmers, local food systems, organic agriculture, and healthy food access, and also relinks conservation requirements to the receipt of crop insurance premium subsidies. The final bill also rejects extreme proposals to weaken Country of Origin Labeling, animal welfare protections, and contract protections for livestock and poultry farmers.

So there is good with the bad, but the bad is really bad.

Feel free to share your opinion about this state of affairs with your Congressional representatives–you can find contact info for member here.

CFSA will keep working to reform farm policy, not just on the Farm Bill but all the other issues that affect food, farmers, and the health of our environment and our communities, and we need your involvement keep making progress. The best way to succeed is by bringing more people into the CFSA family, to strengthen our grassroots voice and overcome the power of money and back room dealing. Share this information with those you know who care about where our food comes from and how it’s grown, and encourage them to connect with CFSA. We have won major victories together over the last 10 years, and together we will achieve greater victories in the future.

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CFSA NEWS:

Beaufort County Food Council Exploration

CFSA, in partnership with the Mid-East Commission, recently published Healthy, Fresh, Local Food: An Action Plan for Increasing Healthy Food Access in Beaufort County, NC. This document was the culmination of six months of assessment work and community conversations about barriers to healthy food access in the Beaufort County community. One of the five community goals identified by the report was the formation of a Beaufort County food council.

CFSA is currently facilitating discussions with members of the HEAL Collaborative, a Beaufort County group focused on healthy eating and active living. Community members have decided to continue food council discussions through this group. This sub-committee is planning to hold a public forum in April to inform the broader community about these efforts and to bring more people into the conversation.

The Center for Strategic Economic Growth at the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise has partnered with CFSA to support Lindsay Lassiter’s continued work helping to coordinate and facilitate the food council sub-committee. Lindsay is currently an intern with CFSA until May 2014 as part of her graduate work at UNC’s School of Social Work.

If you are a Beaufort County resident or employee and you would like to join this conversation, please email Lindsay Lassiter at lindsay@.

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CFSA Meets with NC House Committee on Food Desert Zones

On January 27, members of the NC House of Representatives met to learn about food deserts. House Bill 957, introduced by Representative Yvonne Holley in response to the closure of two grocery stores in her district, provided the basis for the study committee.

Speakers at the committee meeting included experts from universities, state and local government officials, and non-profit organizations. CFSA’s own Jared Cates told the committee about a regional study of the food system taking place as part of a broader planning analysis in a 14-county area surrounding Charlotte called CONNECT Our Future. Together with Centralina Council of Governments, Catawba Regional Council of Governments, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and Center for Environmental Farming Systems, CFSA is working to assess the regional food system, develop and begin implementation of an action plan to support the growth of and enhance access to the local food economy.

Jared encouraged the committee to hear from local food councils developing around the state about barriers to food security, and advised them to consider the impact of impending federal food safety regulations on small scale farms currently increasing the supply of health food to local markets.

The Committee on Food Desert Zones will meet again on Monday, February 24 and Monday March 24, 2014 at 1 p.m. The meetings are open to the public. See http://www.ncleg.net/LegislativeCalendar/ for the location as the meeting date approaches.

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Come Work With Us! Produce Safety Coordinator

Applications are due February 21, 2014. The anticipated start date is March 17, 2014.

The Produce Safety Coordinator is a part-time, 0.50 FTE (20 hrs/wk) position with the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA). The Produce Safety Coordinator is based in CFSA’s Pittsboro, NC, office and is responsible for offering a statewide innovative training program to operators of diversified farms seeking a USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Audit.

JOB SUMMARY:

The Produce Safety Coordinator is a part time 0.50 FTE (20 hrs/wk), salaried position through Dec. 31, 2014. We are actively pursuing funding opportunities to grow the position into a permanent, full-time position by Jan. 2015. The Produce Safety Coordinator is responsible for delivering an innovative training program, in collaboration with external partners, to operators of diversified farms seeking food safety certification, specifically the USDA GAPs Audit.

S/he will be responsible for planning and delivering workshops and providing direct consultation to educate growers about food safety on the farm, explain the audit process, and assist in the creation of a food safety plan. Training and consultation will utilize the CFSA guidance manual – Good Agricultural Practices for Small Diversified Farms – and will enable diversified farms to enter new wholesale and institutional markets and preserve existing markets that may impose food safety certification requirements in the future. S/he may be required to attend USDA GAP auditor training and/or other trainings depending on previous experience.

The Produce Safety Coordinator will work with the Farm Service Director to prepare internal reports, compliance reports, grant billings, and other tasks necessary to meet program goals. The Produce Safety Coordinator reports to the Farm Services Director and supervises no staff.

For More Information about Duties, Responsibilities and Position Requirements, please visit our web page at: https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/jobs.
CFSA is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from women and people of color.

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CONNECT Our Future Food Systems Engagement

The “CONNECT Our Future” Food Systems Assessment Report and accompanying Action Plan for Food Systems Improvement will be released on February 1, 2014. This process has engaged public, private, and non-profit partners, as well as the general public, to build a regional framework to grow jobs and the economy, improve quality of live, and control the cost of government within the greater Charlotte region, including the Rock, Hill, SC region. The project is supported by a substantial U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sustainable Communities Grant as well as local in-kind public and private matching funds. The food systems portion of this project has been undertaken by a collaborative team made up of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA).

The CONNECT food systems team is currently working to help regional food councils and groups to plan improvements in their community by using the assessment and action plan. The CONNECT team is also working to provide food councils and groups with trainings and assistance to help them in their work.

Food councils and groups are currently planning public community forums for April and May of 2014. The food councils and groups will be presenting the assessment results and action plan to the public and discussing their upcoming work plans.

Forum dates will be announced soon. If you are interested in this project and would like to be added to an email list that will be used to disseminate forum information, please contact Jared Cates at jared@.

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Upstate Food Hub 2014 brings hundreds of local food producers and buyers together

Over 200 people representing 124 different local food businesses and organizations gathered together Monday, January 27th for the 3rd annual Upstate Food Hub business-to-business networking event hosted by edible Upcountry magazine and Greenville Technical College’s Culinary Institute of the Carolinas in Greenville, SC.

Farmers, food and drink artisans, restaurateurs, chefs, institutional buyers, food distributors and food system nonprofit leaders all rubbed elbows and fostered new connections for the year ahead. The event featured lively panel discussions on such topics as “Keeping Our Farmland Alive, Ensuring We Have the Dirt We Need” and “Raising the Bar on Chefs/Chefs Raising the Bar”. The CFSA sent a healthy contingent to represent the interests of the organization including Executive Director Roland McReynolds, who served as a panelist, as well as Fred Broadwell and Diana Vossbrinck.

The annual event, now in its 3rd year, is designed around an afternoon of information sharing and panel discussion on important themes and issues of the day in the local food economy and caps off with a happy hour highlighting the region’s and the season’s finest. Organizers sourced ingredients and products from over 40 Upstate farmers, specialty food producers, brewers, distillers and wine growers for the experience. Upstate Food Hub has been hosted, since its inception, at Greenville Technical College’s Northwest Campus, a state-of-the-art facility that houses the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas’ program, the premier training organization for the region’s next round of food decision makers and chefs.

To enhance the experience, four local food trucks – Chocolate Moose, Ellada Kouzina, Neue Southern and Thoroughfare – were on hand to provide lunch prior to the kickoff of the afternoon session. Additionally several local artisan food and drink exhibitors provided samples throughout the day. And, new to this year, organizers collaborated with Furman University’s Shi Center for Sustainability to host a special morning nonprofit roundtable networking opportunity for, specifically, representatives from the nonprofit, higher ed and government sectors actively working to support healthy local foodways. 48 people from across the region participated in that special session where new ideas for collaboration and synergy were formed.

Organizers plan to hold the event again in late January 2015.

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Interview Series – Experts in the Field at SAC 2013

We’re excited to show off our 2013 SAC Interview Series, produced by our friends at Geocore Films. Check out our Youtube channel – www.youtube.com/CFSACarolinaFarm – to hear more from SAC speakers and experts in their field!

  • Phillip Ackerman-Leist, Director of the Farm & Food Project at Green Mountain College, VT, on progress rebuilding local food sheds across the nation
  • Randy James, Professor Emeritus and author of CFSA’s Organic Enterprise Budgets, on how farmers can use enterprise budgets.
  • Jeff Moyer, Director of Farming at Rodale Institute, on the benefits of organic farming
  • Sandor Katz, author and 2013 SAC keynote, on fermentation (coming soon!)

 

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EXPERT TIPS:

Estimating Nitrogen Production from Cover Crops

Hopefully, your winter annual cover crop has survived the frigid air masses that swept through the Carolinas in January. Those covers planted late may look a little edgy at this point. Small grains should be all right, but late-planted legumes such as crimson clover may have suffered. Hopefully, we’ll have a warm March/April period, when most of the biomass production from winter annual cover crops takes place. Want more biomass? Let the cover grow as long as possible.

The biomass produced by a cover crop is a best estimate drawn from research and experience. Total biomass (organic matter) and biomass-N produced will vary by production year, weather, planting date and termination date. The nitrogen (N) that is available from that biomass (plant available biomass-N) will also vary, depending on how the residue is managed. Covers that are turned in supply N faster than residue left on the surface. Fully mature covers, particularly small grains or bicultures containing small grains, have higher C:N ratios, decomposing and releasing N more slowly.

A grower can get a better and inexpensive estimate of the “available” biomass N per acre at cover crop termination by having a plant sample analyzed for N content at the at the Clemson Agricultural Service (http://www.clemson.edu/public/regulatory/ag_svc_lab/solutions_other_analyses/) or at the NCDA&CS Agronomic Division (http://www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/uyrplant.htm) labs. Annual legumes typically have between 3.5 and 4 percent N in their aboveground parts prior to flowering (for young material, use the higher end of the range), and 3 to 3.5 percent at flowering. After flowering, N in the leaves decreases quickly as it accumulates in the growing seeds.

The percent N determined by the lab (or the estimate suggested above) is multiplied by the “dry” biomass produced in one acre in that field. Biomass can be calculated by taking a nine square foot biomass sample (3′ X 3′), drying the biomass collected, weighing the dried sample and multiplying the dried weight X 4840. Percent N multiplied by pounds of dry biomass per acre provides a relatively good estimate of the “total” biomass-N provided by the cover crop on a per acre basis. However, total biomass-N will have to be adjusted to reflect how much of that total biomass-N is “available” to the following crop. This adjustment will vary depending on the stage of growth of the cover crop at termination, climate, soil moisture and other factors. A very conservative estimate of plant available N would be 50 to 60 percent of total biomass-N.

Alternatively, a rough rule thumb is that at 100% groundcover and six inches height, cover crop biomass (dry weight) is approximately 2000 lbs/acre. For each additional inch of height add another 150 pounds of (dry) biomass per acre.

Knowing how much N is available to your cash crop can save you money on additional fertilizer that may need to be purchased to meet crop needs. Or, you may find out that the cover crop can “cover” those needs.

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Share your News– Got a bright idea for a newsletter article or an upcoming event you’d like to publicize on the website? E-mail Thomas.

To join the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, visit: https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/join/

Renew your membership to CFSA

 

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