Blog

Where Can You Get Local Flowers for Mother’s Day?

By Marianna Spence, CFSA Membership Coordinator | Monday, May 6, 2019 –

A bouquet at Parker Farm & Vineyard

As the adage goes, April showers bring May flowers. And what day is most commonly associated with flowers? If you’re thinking Valentine’s Day, you may be surprised to learn that for many flower growers, Mother’s Day weekend is their busiest weekend of the year!

While many folks turn to their local flower shop, grocery store, or online flower delivery service–like FTD or 1-800-flowers–we know that CFSA readers aren’t the usual shopper.

If you want to stay local for your mother’s day bouquet, here’s a list of 10 CFSA Member-farms producing cut flowers for sale this season. Whether you’re a fresh flower enthusiast or are wanting to find just the right bunch for mom, we’re including how you can buy flowers from each farm this Mother’s Day weekend and beyond!

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A Closer Look at Dairies on the Piedmont Farm Tour

By Ashley See, CFSA Communications Coordinator and Katya Leonard, Organic Valley | Monday, Apr. 22, 2019 –

Little girl at Reedy Fork Farm feeding a calf. Credit: Organic Valley

This year, we’re lucky to have seven farms on the 2019 Piedmont Farm Tour that really showcase how dairy is sustainably produced. Since two of those dairies are Organic Valley farms, we asked Organic Valley’s Engagement Coordinator, Katya Leonard, to help introduce those two.

Kick it off, Katya!

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Farm to School and the Piedmont Farm Tour

Tessa Thraves, NC Farm to School Coalition | Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2019 –

Students at Lomax Farm with Farmer Joe Rowland

North Carolina has been a leader in farm to school efforts for decades, and we are eager to strengthen this work even more. The Farm to School Coalition of North Carolina is a collective of state agencies and non-profit organizations that are working together to do just that—celebrate all the existing efforts as well as expand and strengthen farm to school efforts across North Carolina. 

As part of these efforts, the coalition seeks more locally-produced nutritious food in school meals as well as opportunities for students to learn how their food is produced and how to make healthy choices. This educational component makes a huge impact on children’s interest in the food on their plate. You’ll hear teachers say, “If kids grow it, they’ll eat it,” from familiar carrots to veggies they might never have seen before like kohlrabi! And farm-to-school work is place particular by incorporating local food culture, local farmers, and foods that are seasonal to a geographic region. 

“(Purchasing from local farms) helps build resiliency in our communities; it is bigger than just my purchasing fruit.”

When we talk about farm-to-school work, we are including all kinds of different components of farm to school:

  • Local food purchasing for school meals
  • Wellness policies
  • Field trips to farms
  • Farmers visiting schools
  • School gardens
  • Cooking classes
  • Agriculture, food system, and nutrition education

Any piece of this with an aim to add more components to the mix, as again the combination of education with putting local food on the plate increases consumption.

School kids hold baby chicks while on a visit to Minka Farm in Efland

School kids hold baby chicks while on a visit to Minka Farm in Efland

 

The coalition has a number of members on the steering committee, which includes CFSA, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, FoodCorps NC, and multiple state agencies including the NC Department of Public Instruction, NC Department of Agriculture, and NC Department of Health and Human Services.

A number of CFSA member farms identify as participating in farm to school, including a handful on this year’s Piedmont Farm Tour – Minka Farm (Efland), First Fruits Farm (Louisburg), Dawnbreaker Farm (Hurdle Mills), and the Well Fed Community Garden (Raleigh). And while selling to school nutrition programs can offer challenges, particularly for small farms, there are lots of ways and reasons why a farm might participate in farm to school activities in their county or region.

James Brown, owner of First Fruits Farm, says they work with school groups to teach “the life cycle of a plants, how to plant a seed, the importance of the soil, and how to be good stewards of the land–all universal concepts that are important for every child to know and understand.”

Students from Franklin Academy help transplant at First Fruits Farm in Louisburg. Photo: First Fruits Farm.

Students from Franklin Academy help transplant at First Fruits Farm in Louisburg. Photo: First Fruits Farm.

 

Morgan Malone, farm manager at the Well Fed Community Garden, says that teaching kids helps them fulfill their mission: “Not only are we building healthy soils and ecosystems for the future, we are also providing the next generation with knowledge and tools they can use to better the planet.” 

“Not only are we building healthy soils and ecosystems for the future, we are also providing the next generation with knowledge and tools they can use to better the planet.”

Some farms find selling to schools or child care centers as a way to diversify their market and some are dedicated to connecting directly with kids and their families in their own community. “Purchasing from local farms for my schools,” says Paula DeLucca, the Nutrition Director in Wake County, who posts farmer profiles on her nutrition website, “helps build resiliency in our communities; it is bigger than just my purchasing fruit.”

The Farm to School Coalition of NC is grateful to CFSA and all the farms who participate in any form farm to school. While you’re on the 2019 Piedmont Farm Tour, please take the time to stop by these farms and say thank you:

  • Minka Farm
  • First Fruits Farm
  • Dawnbreaker Farm
  • Well Fed Community Garden

Farmer at Turtle Mist explains egg production to a visiting group

Want More Information About the Coalition?


Want to Do Something to Help Farm to School?

Wouldn’t it be great if NC made it easier for school cafeterias across the state to serve fruits and vegetables from local farmers? That just might be in the cards this year!

The North Carolina General Assembly is considering adding over $10 million to the state budget to support farm to school. From helping school cafeterias buy what they need to prepare fresh food, training cafeteria staff on what to do with a bunch of carrots with the tops still on to giving schools funds to buy local even when it isn’t the cheapest option, this is a step in the right direction.

Stay up-to-date on what’s happening with the farm-to-school effort in Raleigh by signing up for CFSA’s Action Alerts.

Where To Buy Meat on the 2019 Farm Tour

By Mary Beth Miller, CFSA Education Coordinator | Monday, Apr. 15, 2019 – 

We’re a week and a half out, and many of you are asking for more tips to help plan your 2019 Piedmont Farm Tour stops.

We understand! Some folks like to know who will have pick-your-own strawberries or ice cream, others want to know where they can stock up on local meat. If you’re looking for the latter, then this is the post for you! 

Below, we’re outlining 18 farms on this year’s farm tour that will have meat for sale, that they raised, at their farm. Whenever possible, we’re also including blurbs from the farmers on their growing practices.

Red Devon cows grazing at Braeburn Farm in Snow Camp

Red Devon cows grazing at Braeburn Farm in Snow Camp

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Asheville Breadfest is THIS Weekend!

By Jennifer Lapidus, Carolina Ground | Wednesday, Apr. 10, 2019

Mark your calendars: The 15th Annual Asheville Bread Festival will take place April 13-14—this weekend!

Bakers learning at a workshop at the Asheville Bread Festival

What is Asheville Bread Festival (ABF)?
This two-day event allows bread enthusiasts and professional bakers to break bread together, improve their baking skills, share ideas, and network within the artisan bread community.

Don’t worry WNC folks, knead not bake in order to partake in the Bread Fair at New Belgium. Free and open to the public, the fair allows anyone to come to meet local bakers and taste the goods of the region’s best bakeries, mills, and purveyors of bread-related goods.

 

Asheville Bread Festival Logo

How did Asheville Bread Festival come to be?
When this festival first began 15 years ago, a handful of other bakers and I came together at the end of the day to share a meal. What began with awkward introductions, as we didn’t know each other, warmed once wine glasses and conversations flowed. We realized that a common thread connected all of us: we were bakers—a unique slice of humans —determined, driven, and maybe a bit crazy?

Fast forward five years and those same bakers would pull chairs into a circle and discuss the idea of working directly with growers here in the South.

Three years later, with the help of Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Carolina Ground—a mill dedicated to closing the gap between farmer and baker here in the South—was born.

And last year, the original founders of ABF passed the reigns to Cathy Cleary (one of those bakers at the table many years before), Rich Orris, and me, ushering in Asheville Bread Festival 2.0.

A panel discussion at Asheville Bread Festival

 

How is the Asheville Bread Festival different in 2019 than when it began?
In this new phase, ABF partners with New Belgium Brewery for a centrally-located, extraordinary space for our main hub and Bread Fair, while classes are held in various locations around Asheville.

And, most excitingly, we are now a non-profit under the umbrella of Slow Food Asheville! Proceeds from the festival support agricultural grain diversity. We use festival profits as seed money for farmers to plant “risky” grain varietals.

Providing seed, though, is just part of the story. Grain diversity can be a challenging equation. There is the cost of seed; there’s an elevated risk associated with growing a lower-yielding variety without any growing data.

In the past, these costs and risks were carried by the farmer and miller. Though if the miller supplied the seed and the crop failed, the farmer is still at a greater loss and may not have interest in planting a higher-risk variety the following year. The non-profit arm of the Asheville Bread Festival enables our baking community to mitigate the risk by providing not only seed, but also ensuring that if the crop is a failure, the cost of the farmer’s time will be covered. If the crop is usable, Carolina Ground will purchase the crop, or ensure purchase of the crop.

Bakers at a Asheville Bread Festival workshop

 

Tell us about one of the projects that have been funded by the Asheville Bread Festival lately.
Our farmer, Amy Poirier, is located 130 miles east of Asheville. Amy comes from a dairy family, as her grandfather started Hoffner Dairy in Rowan County, which is now a member of Organic Valley and run by her father and brother. Amy teaches and is the Agribusiness Coordinator at Mitchell Community College. One day, before a board meeting—we both sit on the board of Carolina Farm Stewardship Association—we hatched this idea over coffee, continuing the conversation throughout the year.

 

Wren Abuzzi Rye graphic

 

With proceeds from last year’s festival, the Asheville Bread Festival provided Amy with the seed to plant 10 acres of Harrus white pastry wheat, which is an old variety of tall, white pastry wheat that grows well up north. We’re curious if it will grow down here. She also planted one acre of Danko rye—while we love our Wren’s Abruzzi rye, we are committed to building diversity. If Danko does well, we will plant 10-20 acres the following year. She also planted buckwheat but lost the crop to Hurricane Florence.

This is just the beginning of a long-term project. We hope it will serve to supplement the work that NCSU and USDA are doing with regionally adapted varieties.

Amy will be participating in our panel discussion entitled, Grain Innovators, as part of Asheville Bread Festival on Saturday April 13th at 5 p.m. at New Belgium Brewery. The panel discussion is free and open to the public.


About Jennifer
Jennifer Lapidus is the founder of Carolina Ground and on the CFSA Board of Directors.

About Carolina Ground
Carolina Ground is a flour mill located in Asheville, North Carolina, focused on closing the gap between farmers and bakers in the South. In 1994, Lapidus started making naturally leavened breads for Natural Bridge Bakery in western North Carolina. As consumer demand for naturally leavened breads grew, Lapidus zeroed in on a need for locally grown and ground bread flour, pastry flour, and rye flour.

With a 2009 grant from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund and Santa Fe Tobacco, administered through the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Lapidus laid the foundation for Carolina Ground. Using a wooden-hulled stone ground mill from Austria, all Carolina Ground flours are stone-ground, cold-milled, unbleached, and unbromated.

All photos courtesy of Asheville Bread Festival and Carolina Ground.

Farm Touring for 23 Years…and Counting!

By Marianna Spence, CFSA Membership Coordinator | Monday, Apr. 8, 2019 – 

Last year, I had the great fortune of running into Cathy Cole and Steve Garfinkel at Braeburn Farm as they were hopping off a UTV tour of the cattle farm. We were chatting about the farm when they told me this was their 23rd year of touring — they hadn’t missed a Piedmont Farm Tour since it started in 1996!

Cathy and Steve will be hitting the road again for the 2019 Piedmont Farm Tour, April 27-28, and shared some stories from past years and advice for new(er) tour-goers.

Braeburn farmer Charles Sydnor and 23-year tour veterans, Cathy Cole and Steve Garfinkel

 

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New Farms on the 2019 Piedmont Farm Tour

by Ashley See, CFSA Communications Coordinator | Friday, Apr. 5, 2019 – 

With three weeks until the 2019 Piedmont Farm Tour kicks off, we want to highlight as many of our 40+ sustainable farms as possible.

As an annual event – 24 years and running! – our number of participating farms ebbs and flows with the seasons. With life changes, attending market, or crop shifting, farmers are constantly balancing many factors in order to open their barn doors to the public each April.

This year, we’re thrilled to welcome six new farms–two are dairies, four are certified organic, one is an incubator/training farm, and one has a cidery!

As folks buy passes and plan their tour stops, we want to introduce these new farms to help you know all the options.

 

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Pint-Sized on the Piedmont Farm Tour: Tips for Touring with Kids

By Marianna Spence, CFSA Membership Coordinator | Mar. 15, 2019 – 

Little boy petting a donkey at Hundred Acre Wood. Credit: Stephanie Morrison

The Piedmont Farm Tour is my favorite family event of the year, and ALL farms are great to tour with your gang. But, after a few years of touring with a toddler and now 5-year-old, I’ve collected a few tips to help maximize the experience for your little ones.

For those that don’t know, the tour is happening from 2 – 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, April 27 – 28. Check out the tour brochure for details on each farm, including timing on particular happenings, such as hayrides and animal feedings, as well as features like snack stops and bathrooms. You can get tickets and the tour brochure online or at any Weaver Street Market in the Triangle.

Now onto what I’ve learned:

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Organic Plant Breeding Yields Superior Varieties for Cucurbit Growers

By Kiki Hubbard, Organic Seed Alliance  | Monday, Mar. 25, 2019 –

Farmers looking for disease-resistant cucurbits now have more choices thanks to the release of new cucumber and melon varieties by Cornell University—the result of years of research by public plant breeders and organic farmers. These varieties are a result of participatory breeding efforts focused on cucurbits most in need of improvement and exhibit exceptional resistance to evolving diseases as well as production and culinary characteristics important to organic farmers.

“Our approach to plant breeding involves a close collaboration with farmers, regional seed companies, and other researchers to test varieties in the environment of their intended use,” says Michael Mazourek with the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell University. “In the case of these cucurbit varieties, they were all bred with the needs of organic farmers in mind.”

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Talking Points for Ag Day 2019

by Ashley See, CFSA Communications Coordinator | Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2019 – 

Tomorrow, Mar. 20th is North Carolina Ag Awareness Day at the General Assembly in Raleigh. This is a day that many come together to celebrate NC’s biggest industry while also directly communicating with legislators on important agricultural issues.

While the timeline of events can be found over at the NC Department of Agriculture, it’s worth noting that legislative visits – where you can speak with legislators directly – from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. are encouraged to be scheduled in advance to ensure your senators and representatives are available.

 


WHO REPRESENTS YOU?

Find your local Senate or House members, as well as who the Senate Agriculture Committee members and House Agriculture Committee members are.
 



Not sure what to say?
 CFSA took the time to prepare four talking points.

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