CFSA Announces 2015 Sustainable Agriculture Awards For Outstanding Contributions to the Sustainable Local Food Movement
The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) has named this year’s sustainable agriculture award recipients. The awards were announced Nov. 6 and 7 at the 30th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Durham, NC, a gathering of almost 1,200 sustainable farmers, agriculture advocates, foodies, 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:
Lifetime Achievement: John O’Sullivan
CFSA is honored to acknowledge Dr. John M. O’Sullivan with our highest award, the Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. O’Sullivan is Professor of Sustainable Agriculture, Local and Community Food Systems at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and Co-Director of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS). He has been a faculty member at NC A&T since 1983, where he has worked as a farm management and marketing specialist with the Cooperative Extension Program, helping small scale producers address issues of marketing and sustainable production. He now holds the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Agriculture, Local and Community Food Systems at NC A&T. He became involved in sustainability and organic farming issues back in 1984 when he joined the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA). He served two terms on that board and was named Sustainable Agriculture Activist of the Year by CFSA in 1994. In the Southern region, he has been the SARE PDP (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Professional Development Program) coordinator at NC A&T since 1994 and served as part of the team that created the Southern Regional SARE PDP program (1994-2002). In addition to his great contributions to Sustainable Agriculture, Dr. O’Sullivan has served as a mentor for a new generation of Sustainable food academics and activists.
Farmer of the Year: Portia McKnight and Flo Hawley
Portia McKnight and Flo Hawley started the Triangle’s beloved Chapel Hill Creamery in 2000. At the time, they had 20 years of experience in the food industry and were ready to focus that knowledge on their passion for artisanal cheese-making. In the 15 years since, they have built a farm that is a central asset to Chapel Hill and North Carolina as a state, with their cheeses a staple on many connoisseurs’ tables. They have actively invited the community out to the farm, playing a vibrant roll in agritourism, including being one of the most popular stops on CFSA’s Piedmont Farm Tour!
Activist: Grace & Cary Kanoy
Grace and Cary Kanoy moved back to the family farm in Thomasville, NC in the early 2000’s. Over the past several years they have been working to make Davidson County a destination for local and sustainable food. They have joined many community groups and this past year spearheaded efforts to form a food council called the Davidson County Local Food Network. Through community meetings they are bringing together community residents and local government to begin a serious conversation about agriculture, local food and making the community a healthier place.
Institution: Farmer Foodshare
Many farmers have benefited from selling overstock to Farmer Foodshare. After seeing gaps in the local food system, farmers and shoppers at the Carrboro Farmers Market founded Farmer Foodshare in 2009. They now serve fresh local produce to over 20,000 people a year with the support of dozens of local farmers, farmers markets, community volunteers, student groups, and non-profit partners. Through the introduction of Food Donation Stations at farmers markets; the POP Market, which purchases food from small family farms looking for new markets and sells it to non-profit organizations serving low-wealth communities; and the training of Food Ambassadors who provide community education on cooking local food and support to agencies looking to source locally, Farmer Foodshare has exemplified a model that is financially supportive to local, sustainable farmers while making healthy foods more affordable to the entire community.
Business: Country Farm and Home, Melinda Fitzgerald
In 2008, when Melinda Fitzgerald started working for her Father, Dallas, at the Pittsboro-based Country Farm and Home feed store, she recognized a need and an opportunity to provide supplies for organic growers. She set up a meeting with CFSA’s Fred Broadwell, Chatham County Extension Agent, Debbie Roos, and the late organic farmer, Bill Dow of Ayrshire Farm, to meet with her and discuss how she could make Country Farm and Home a resource for organic farmers. She started out with seed orders for potatoes, and quickly saw sales quadruple, and then quadruple again. Organic farmers now travel from throughout the state to benefit from the knowledge and savings available at Country Farm and Home through the bulk buying programs. Country Farm and Home is a great example of how pursuing organics can provide economic benefits for both growers and suppliers.
Beginning Farmer of the Year: Joe & Dani Rowland
Rowland’s Row Family Farm was started by Joe and Dani Rowland in 2010 as a part of the Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm in Concord, NC. In 2012, the Rowland’s purchased their 18 acre homestead in Gold Hill where they grow a variety of USDA Certified Organic, seasonal fruits and vegetables and all natural, free range, non GMO poultry raised on pasture without any added antibiotics or hormones. The Rowland’s passion for local food and farming led them to purchase and operate an online farmer’s market and delivery service in late 2012 that specialized in North Carolina farm goods. In early 2013, interested in providing the greater Concord and Cabarrus county community with more fresh, local food they were excited to team with two great, local farm and food families to open the Peachtree Market. In addition, Dani has shared her food skills as a Chef and event planner, including serving as CFSA’s Sustainable Ag Conference Food Coordinator in 2013!
NC Extension Agent: Der Xiong
Der has been with the Catawba County Cooperative Extension Center for more than four years and her dedication in sustainable agriculture can be seen in all the different programming that she’s produced. She has connected extension to many underserved populations, including the Hmong through the Growers School Program, a six session program that educates farmers on sustainable production, such as season extension, plasticulture, soil health, food safety, and pesticide safety. She has also worked with the Foothills Farm School, a program designed to help any beginning and transitioning farmers in the region learn economically sustainable farming methods in a range of production systems and give them the tools to develop business plans for their enterprise. Der has collaborated with different agencies and organizations including the local Soil and Water Conservation District and Natural Resource Conservation Services, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, the National Hmong Language Media Resource and the North Carolina Community Garden Partners.
SC Extension Agent: Harry Crissy
Harry Crissy is a South Carolina Cooperative Extension based in Charleston, SC. His work has included executing a grant from Boeing to develop low cost small food processing facilities called “crop stops,” which have been used to conduct food safety and GAPS trainings in around the region.