Keeping the Sustainable Food Movement Moving: CFSA Announces 2010 Sustainable Agriculture Awards
The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) has named this year’s sustainable agriculture award recipients. The awards were announced December 3 and 4 at the 25th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Winston-Salem, NC, a gathering of over 800 sustainable farmers, ag. advocates, educators, and experts. These institutions and individuals have made outstanding contributions to the sustainable food movement in North and South Carolina and have helped make the Carolinas one of the fastest growing sustainable agricultural sectors in the country.
The award recipients are:
Business of the Year, Weeping Radish Farm Brewery, Jarvisburg, NC. Located on 24 acres in Jarvisburg, NC, this eastern North Carolina enterprise is anything but your average brewery. Of course the beer is superb, painstakingly crafted from the finest ingredients according to the highest German standards; but preserving the craft of traditional brewing is only a part of the Weeping Radish mission. Envisioned as “the ultimate project featuring all the elements of sustainable farming, educating the urban population, and integrating it with the now famous Terra Madre concept,” Weeping Radish Farm Brewery has become a model for sustainable food ventures everywhere. Owner Uli Bennewitz’s commitment to “good, clean, and fair food” is evident throughout the property, from the Master Butcher’s shop, which features the finest in-house charcuterie made from all locally sourced meats, to the restaurant, which showcases vegetables, herbs, and eggs from its very own 14-acre farm. Educational tours and festivals throughout the year complete the package, promoting a sense of community as well as ecological responsibility.
Institution of the Year, Cabarrus County, NC. With “a vision of Cabarrus as a county in which our children learn, our citizens participate, our dreams matter, [and] our families and neighbors thrive,” the Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners and John Day, Cabarrus County Manager, have worked hard to make their community a truly sustainable one. In addition to implementing a variety of policies designed to curb water and energy usage as well as air quality issues, the Board and Mr. Day have also made a marked commitment to developing a local, sustainable food system. Hit hard in recent years by the prevalence of diet-related illness, sprawling development , and the loss of historically profitable manufacturing facilities, Cabarrus County has fought back by reaching within, introducing its first ever farm incubator program and Food Policy Council earlier this year. The incubator program will train new sustainable farmers to help increase the supply of fresh, healthy food while also keeping land in agricultural production. The Food Policy Council, lead by local farmer and author Aaron Newton, will educate the citizens of Cabarrus County about the link between food, health, and natural resource preservation. Finally, the leadership of Debbie Bost, Cabarrus County Extension Director, has been truly exemplary and is making a big difference for Cabarrus County’s citizens.
Activist of the Year, Harry and Elaine Hamil, Black Mountain, NC. Harry Hamil and his wife, Elaine, have worked over 15 years to help rebuild the local, healthy food economy in Black Mountain, NC. They have operated the year-round Black Mountain Farmers’ Market since 2003 and coordinated the area’s first farmers’ tailgate market, remaining active in its management until 2008. Prior to that, Mr. Hamil worked 35 years in the highly regulated insurance market, analyzing and complying with local, state, and federal statutes. This experience came in handy, however, as big agribusiness launched its drive to impose industrial-scale food safety on every small farm and food-maker in the country. Beginning in July of 2009, Mr. Hamil waged a tireless campaign to expose the harm that federal food safety proposals would do to small local food producers, including the Senate’s Food Safety Modernization Act, S.510, its companion bill in the House of Representatives, HR 2749, and the National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. “His thorough research and his knowledge of the business side of local food made him an outspoken and insightful counterpoint to the misinformation published by so-called food safety advocates,” said Roland McReynolds, CFSA Executive Director. He organized protests, brought politicians to meet producers first hand, and went head-to-head with FDA bureaucrats.
Farmers of the Year, Steve and Lee Tate, Goat Lady Dairy, Climax, NC. When the Tates began Goat Lady Dairy back in 1995, their mission was clear: to nurture “the direct relationship between urban consumers, local farmers and the land.” This dedication to environmental stewardship and the creation of a sustainable local food economy has certainly served them well; their cheese-making operation is now thriving, and they have expanded the business into 2010 with their first ever CSA. Designed to not only provide community members with the freshest, healthiest produce and dairy products, the Goat Lady CSA will also serve as an educational opportunity for workers and guests alike to learn about organic production and seasonal eating. It will also serve as a mentoring program for interns and beginning farmers.
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Agent of the Year, Taylor Williams, Carthage, NC. “Taylor Williams has quietly and steadfastly built a legacy of sustainability which continues to grow and develop branches throughout the Sandhills,” said Craven F. Hudson, Moore County Extension Director. In addition to helping numerous local farmers and gardeners adopt sustainable practices throughout his Extension career, Mr. Williams has also played a vital role in the recent expansion of area farmers’ markets and the start-up of Sandhills Farm 2 Table Cooperative, a 1,000-member organization that now delivers weekly boxes to more than 500 subscribers! Along with Richmond County Agent, Paige Burns, Mr. Williams has also implemented a farmer-to-farmer education program that helps growers learn from the sustainable operations of their colleagues. It is for this tireless dedication to a sustainable local food system that Mr. Williams is receiving this award. “It makes a huge difference when extension agents champion the cause of sustainable farming,” said Roland McReynolds, CFSA Executive Director.
South Carolina Cooperative Extension Agent of the Year, Danny Howard, Greenville, SC. Danny Howard is highly dedicated to helping farmers transition to sustainable, organic operations as well as developing the larger local food system. In his capacity as Administrative Lead Agent for Greenville County Extension, Mr. Howard works hard to disseminate pertinent information to the community, particularly that concerning regulations for farmers’ markets and trainings for growers in sustainable practices. He regularly attends workshops on sustainable agriculture and Integrated Pest Management and can often be found attending farmers markets in his region to offer his services and support his growers. “Many of these growers when asked would call Danny a friend before they name him as their local extension agent,” said Kelly Gilkerson , Clemson University Research Associate. Mr. Howard also works with the Beekeepers Association, Greenville Livestock Association, Greenville Forestry and Wildlife Society, and Foothills Market.