eNews April 2015

Dear Friends of Farms and Food,

Spring is a terrific time to visit farms across the Carolinas. There is no better way to understand where your food comes from than to visit the source: the farm itself. Tickets for both the 20th Piedmont Farm Tour and the 9th Upstate Farm Tour are now on sale. One ticket gets an entire carload in to all the farms, so grab some friends, plan your route, pack a cooler, and have fun!

See you on the farm,

Elizabeth Read – Communications and Development Director




In this edition


Piedmont Farm Tour Adventure Trails 

Building an Organic Grain Value-Chain in the Carolinas 

CFSA Goes to Washington to Demand More Support for Non-GM Plant Breeding

CFSA Advocates for Local, Organic Farmers at Ag Awareness Day at the NC General Assembly 

CFSA & Weaver Street Market Celebrate 20 Years of the Piedmont Farm Tour 



Organic Enterprise BudgetsUPDATED for 2015! Enterprise-Budgets-2013


CFSA Now Offers Even Better Incentives to Become Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Certified 

‘CONNECT Our Future’ Launches New Web Tool

Collective Impact Toolkit for Food Councils


Marketing Consulting

Free market consultations for a limited number of NC and SC producers.

FREE Services for CFSA Members include: assistance accessing social media, developing branding material, or developing a business plan.





North Carolina’s Healthy Corner Stores Bill Good for Farmers, Retailers, and Consumers

Federal Bill to Thwart GMO Labeling is Back



How to Use Organic Enterprise Budgets to Make Your Farm Profitable 



20th Anniversary of the Piedmont Farm Tour

April 25-26 from 2-6 PM




Piedmont Farm Tour Dinner at Piedmont Restaurant

Durham, NC

Thursday, April 16th, 6:30pm



The 2015 Upstate Farm Tour

June 6-7 from 1-6 PM!





Piedmont Farm Tour Adventure Trails

by Leah Joyner, Education Coordinator

PFT 2015 logoWith 40 awesome farms to choose from, the Piedmont Farm Tour has so much to offer! One of the biggest things we hear from farm tour visitors each year is that you would like some guidance in planning your route. Well this year, we’re making it easy for you to plan out your perfect afternoon visiting these wonderful farms! We’ve put together some sample clusters of farms that are all within about 15-20 minutes driving distance of each other!

We suggest that you use these sample routes to make the most of your time on the tour. The tour is from 2-6 pm on Saturday April 25th and April 26th, giving you 4 full hours of fun-filled farm tour time each day. Some of these clusters are so close to each other that you could even mix and match, so don’t feel constrained to these routes – view them as suggestions to minimize your driving time and maximize your time visiting with the farmers, the animals, and sampling tasty farm fresh foods!

Don’t forget to consult the Farm Tour Brochure for more detailed descriptions, and our interactive google map to help you get from farm to farm!

Choose your own farm tour adventure!



Building an Organic Grain Value-Chain in the Carolinas

by Ben Filippo, Food Systems Coordinator

Lionel Vatinet of La Farm Bakery, Cary, NC, myself, and grower, Billy Cater, Carter Farms, Eagle Springs, NC -- farmer miller bakerOne of our goals at CFSA is to work with transitioning tobacco growers and provide them with opportunity to sell and profit from additional organic crops in rotation with tobacco. We made great strides toward this goal with the launch of Jennifer Lapidus’ Carolina Ground, a mill that sells Carolina grown and ground organic grains.  This year opens a new chapter in that story.


Back in November, the CFSA selected two businesses, Sugar Hill Grain Company and Epiphany Craft Malt, for our newly established Food Projects Consulting Program. It soon became clear that with the launch of these new small and organic grain-based businesses, we had a major opportunity to expand on the efforts that Jennifer, CFSA, and dozens of growers and researchers have made over the last several years.


Add to that mix the trailblazing  River Bend Malthouse in Asheville, and we are seeing an emerging value-chain for growers interested in selling their organic grains here in North Carolina, rather than dumping much of it on the conventional commodity market out of state, for minimal profit. The largest barrier to the development of a robust organic grain value-chain here in the Carolinas is a clear market opportunity and channels into which producers can easily and effectively sell their product. This is where companies like Sugar Hill Grain, Epiphany Craft Malt, and of course Carolina Ground and River Bend Malthouse come into play.


With a wide-variety of buyers across the state, producers will gain confidence to grow organic grains in rotation with tobacco, and the sector will gain momentum. Sugar Hill can purchase grain for feed, Epiphany can purchase barley for malting, as with River Bend, and Carolina Ground can purchase grain for bakers to use across the region. This diversity of sales options and market outlets is critical to the success of the emerging value-chain in organic grains.


CFSA hopes to spend the next few months working collaboratively to understand, as a sort of Community of Practice, the challenges and obstacles for the development of an efficient organic grains value-chain, one in which all parties thrive, from producer to consumer.


In order for that to happen, we need to establish a supply-chain in which the value of each player in the chain is recognized and rewarded. By supporting a values-based supply-chain, we are working to grow local, independent businesses that support organic farmers. These companies are working toward this goal, and CFSA is helping them get there.


For more information on how CFSA is helping to rebuild the grain-based value-chain and other food systems, email Ben Filippo.



CFSA Goes to Washington to Demand More Support for Non-GM Plant Breeding

CFSA Executive Director, Roland McReynolds, represents the Carolinas’ local and organic produce farmers on the US Dept. of Agriculture’s Fruit & Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee.  The Committee met last month and discussed issues including the Food Safety Modernization Act and the need for increased federal funding for development of non-GMO crop varieties.

Read more about the Committee and its recommendations to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in The Packer



CFSA Advocates for Local, Organic Farmers at Ag Awareness Day at the NC General Assembly

by Rochelle Sparko, Policy Director

Roland and Fred Miller at the 2015 Ag Awareness Day in NCOn March 18, 2015, hundreds of farmers from around the state gathered in Raleigh to promote North Carolina agriculture to legislators. CFSA was there, along with many CFSA members, telling legislators about the ways that policy can support local, organic agriculture. CFSA members talked with legislators about continued support for the Tobacco Trust Fund, which has helped farmers around the state innovate, supported processing facilities that work with small-scale growers, and bolstered the supply chain for local, organic products. Members also encouraged legislators to support the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, which helps keep farmland in farming in the face of development pressure. We also talked about how a new law requiring small and beginning farmers to pay sales tax for farm supplies and equipment while larger, more established farms are exempt from sales tax, places beginning farmers and small scale producers at a serious disadvantage in the marketplace. Finally, CFSA members told legislators how important it is that we support our land grant institutions.  The research they do makes it possible farmers to keep ahead of diseases and pests, provides them with access to seeds with genetics appropriate to our climate, and introduces them to on-farm practices that increase yields.

Learn more about Ag Awareness Day here.



CFSA & Weaver Street Market Celebrate 20 Years of the Piedmont Farm Tour

by Laura Stewart, Education Director

Karen mcadams  and noah rannells at PFT 15 PotluckOn March 22, farmers who have participated in the Piedmont Farm Tour gathered at the Orange County Farmers Market Pavilion to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Piedmont Farm Tour.  110 farms have participated in the tour since its beginning in 1996!  Tour founders Linda Fullwood of Weaver Street Market, Cathy Jones of Perry-Winkle farm, and Alex and Betsy Hitt of Peregrine Farm were honored for their work to create and grow the tour.  Their diligent leadership has made the Piedmont Farm Tour the largest sustainable farm tour in the country.

We hope you’ll join us on the 20th Anniversary Piedmont Farm Tour, April 25-26!




Organic Enterprise Budgets

UPDATED for 2015!


There are very few enterprise budgets for organic crops, particularly for fruit and vegetable crops. These organic enterprise budgets are an important tool in helping organic producers make decisions about what crops to grow, how much to grow, and how to allocate their resources to meet their production goals.

CFSA has created organic enterprise budgets for 10 organic fruit and vegetables, with production specific to the Carolinas. These budgets were created in 2014 and updated in 2015 for even better performance and utility.

DOWNLOAD the 2015 Organic Enterprise Budgets



CFSA Offers Even Better Incentives to Become Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Certified

by Patricia “Trish” Tripp, Local Produce Safety Coordinator

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification is becoming the most effective marketing tool for local growers selling into wholesale markets. At a minimum, buyers are requiring growers to implement a risked-based Food Safety Program and encouraging growers to move towards GAP certification. The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) continues to urge growers to adopt on-farm, risk-based Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) as the demand for GAP certification continues to rise. And, now, getting certified is even easier!


The N.C. Good Agricultural Assistance Program offered through the North Carolina Department of Agriculture has increased the financial assistance available to growers undergoing a first-time GAP audit conducted by an accredited third-party certification body. During 2015, a cost share of up to nine hundred dollars ($900) per farm is available, a three hundred dollar ($300) increase from previous years. NCDA will continue to offer a $300 cost share for subsequent year GAP certification renewals.


CFSA will continue offering members a GAP audit cost share through its Local Produce Safety Initiative through July 15, 2015. Members who undergo a GAP Audit for the first time in 2015 will be eligible to receive a nine hundred dollar ($900) cost share, aligned with this year’s NCDA incentive. Applications will be accepted on a first-come-first-serve basis.


CFSA also offers growers one-on-one consultations to assist with GAP certification. Services are customized based on the needs of the grower to include a risk assessment, mock audit, final food safety plan review and/or availability to be on-farm during your third-party GAP audit.


To learn more about CFSA’s Local Produce Initiative and GAP consultation services, visit https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/usda-gaps/ or email Trish Tripp at trish@.



‘CONNECT Our Future’ Launches New Web Tools

by Jared Cates, Community MobilizerConnect logo

CONNECT Our Future” has engaged public, private, and nonprofit partners, including CFSA, as well as the general public, over the past three years to build a regional framework to grow jobs and the economy, improve quality of life, and control the cost of government within the 14 county, bi-state Greater Charlotte region of North and South Carolina. This is a project of the Centralina Council of Governments and the Catawba Regional Council of Governments and 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 was 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).


Please explore the Support Local Farms Priority to see some of the work that this collaborative team contributed to the CONNECT Our Future initiative.


While a main goal of the CONNECT Our Future effort is to create a framework for guiding and investing in the region’s growth, CONNECT is not as much an end product as it is an on-going process. A process in which residents, cities, counties, businesses, educators, non-profits, and other organizations work cooperatively over time, laying the foundation upon which together we will grow jobs and the economy, improve quality of life and control the cost of government in our region’s communities.


Please visit CONNECT’s website to learn how all of this work will be incorporated into local and regional planning initiatives.



Collective Impact Toolkit for Food Councils

by Jared Cates, Community Mobilizer

As part of CFSA’s work as a collaborative member of the Community Food Strategies (CFS) team, we have supported a series of trainings for food councils in the Triangle region in North Carolina. Delegates from the Capital Area Food Network, the Chatham Community Food Council, the Durham Farm and Food Network, and the Orange County Food Council attended a regional group training held in February at the United Way of the Greater Triangle to learn about the Collective Impact framework.


CFS is currently developing a Collective Impact Toolkit for Food Councils which will be resource for any food council wanting to integrate this approach into their work. The Collective Impact approach understands that social problems – and their solutions – arise from the interaction of many organizations within the larger system. It uses cross-sector alignment with government, nonprofit, philanthropic, and corporate sectors as partners and engages those partners to coordinate their actions and share their lessons learned. A Collective Impact approach emphasizes the importance of communication across the community and encourages everyone to work toward the same goals using the same tools to measure progress. The CFS team will be holding individual Collective Impact trainings with each of these four groups over the next few months.


For more information on food council development or the Collective Impact framework, please email CFSA Community Mobilizer, Jared Cates at jared@.



Marketing Consultingmarketing-consulting

Free market consultations for a limited number of NC and SC producers.

FREE Services for CFSA Members include: assistance accessing social media, developing branding material, or developing a business plan.





Check out all the helpful tools in our Toolkit, including the Southeast Organic Seed and Variety Trials Report, Organic Inputs Finder, and a Sample Farm Conservation Activity Plan!




Stay Informed!  Sign up for CFSA’s action alerts


North Carolina’s Healthy Corner Stores Bill Good for Farmers, Retailers, and Consumers

by Rochelle Sparko, Policy Director

Rochelle at the General Assembly for Healthy Corner StoresOn March 17, 2015, a bipartisan group of North Carolina lawmakers introduced legislation that will open up new markets for small farmers, diversify the offerings at convenience stores and minimarts, and increase access to healthy, locally produced food.


House Bill 250 and Senate Bill 296, the Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act, will begin to address the fact that some people live so far from stores carrying healthy food that they eat highly items processed from nearby convenience stores instead. This is a public health problem because it leads to increased incidence of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. This bill will encourage corner store owners to expand their offerings to include healthier, locally grown items by providing them with: affordable financing to purchase coolers; technical assistance so they handle farm and fisheries products safely; and marketing assistance.


Take Action!

Please call or email your North Carolina state legislator today to encourage him or her to support House Bill 250 and Senate Bill 296.



Federal Bill to Thwart GMO Labeling is Back

by Rochelle Sparko, Policy Director

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) has reintroduced his bill that would block federal and state efforts to require the labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).


Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut passed laws requiring GMO labeling, and many more states are currently considering similar legislation. “Right to Know” GMO labeling ballot initiatives were narrowly defeated in Oregon and Colorado in the last election. As part of their labeling requirements, some states like Connecticut have also included provisions that make it illegal for food companies to label products containing GMOs as “natural.”


The 2015 Pompeo bill – dubbed the “Deny Americans’ Right to Know” or DARK Act by opponents and “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling” by supporters – continues the 2014 bill’s efforts to preempt state law requiring the labeling of GE food and regulating “natural” claims.


It would also prevent FDA from creating a national GMO labeling scheme – as proposed in the bill introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in the Senate and by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) in the House. Instead, it continues to rely on voluntary labeling schemes.


The bill would also establish a new, voluntary non-GMO labeling program at USDA.


The House Energy and Commerce Committee (which oversees the FDA) has primary jurisdiction over the bill, but with the new addition of the proposed voluntary USDA label, the House Agriculture Committee has now been given joint jurisdiction. It has thus been referred to both committees for review.


No further action has been scheduled at this time. Currently, there is no Senate companion bill. For our North Carolina readers, Representatives Alma Adams and G.K. Butterfield co-sponsored this bill.


CFSA will send out an action alert shortly; sign up for CFSA’s action alerts to make sure you learn more about how to stop this bill.



How to Use Enterprise Budgets to Make Your Farm More Profitable

lettuce-trial-harvest“If you can’t pencil a profit, you aren’t likely to make one.” 

by Karen McSwain, Farm Services Director

CFSA’s new 2015 Organic Enterprise Budgets are now on our website and free for you to use. The 2013 budgets have been updated based on the input of a farmer focus group.  The budgets are based on one acre of production on a ten-acre farm, selling to wholesale markets. As far as we know, these are the only organic enterprise budgets for these crops developed for farmers in the Southeast.

Crop enterprise budgets are a useful tool to help you determine whether the resource and labor inputs you invest in a particular crop are generating a profit.  They provide a realistic projection of the estimated yield, income, expenses, and profit for a single crop per year. They include variable costs – costs that are incurred because a farmer chooses to grow a specific crop – and fixed costs – costs that a farmer incurs whether or not a crop is grown on that piece of land.

Variable costs include things like purchasing seeds or transplants, compost or manure, mulch, fuel, the cost of running irrigation, etc. Fixed costs include machinery and equipment costs, the cost of land, and the cost of irrigation equipment. Enterprise budgets are different from a whole farm budget, which estimates total farm production, income, expenses and profit and includes things like vehicles, cold storage, packing sheds, and barns.

Our crop enterprise budget tools come in two different formats: baseline budgets that provide an average of production costs and interactive budgets, which allow you to develop budgets specific to your operation. Good records from your own farm will result in more accurate budget projections.  CFSA has compiled a list of free downloadable templates to help you capture good records. CFSA has also reviewed a number of commercially available record keeping software programs to help you determine which one will work for you.

Both beginning and seasoned farmers will find the enterprise budgets helpful.  If you are a new grower just starting out and have not had a growing season or two to record, you can use the baseline enterprise budgets to get a good idea about how much time and money you will need, what the inputs are, and which crops might be most profitable. While you might not be growing one acre of tomatoes on a ten acre farm, a little bit of division is all you need to adjust the costs to your operation.

If you are a certified organic farmer, you can develop enterprise budgets specific to your operation to consider increasing production of profitable crops or decreasing production of less profitable crops. Comparing your budgets with our baseline budgets will also help to see if your production costs are in line with ours.

If you find your costs are much higher than those in the baseline budget, this might be a good place to develop systems to reduce those costs. You may want to track labor closely for a season to get a sense of what activities are taking the most time and if there are ways you can reduce the time spent doing those activities. For example, if you have been thinking about buying a transplanter, how much labor costs will the investment in a transplanter save in the long run?

If you are a seasoned farmer considering transitioning to certified organic, you can compare the costs and returns for organic production with your current operation. The table below compares the return above total costs from our baseline organic budgets with traditional budgets developed by Clemson University.

Developing your own crop enterprise budgets and comparing yours with the CFSA Organic Crop Budgets or the Clemson Traditional Crop Budgets will provide the information you need to know what crops to grow and how to price them in order to stay in business.



Organic Return Above Total Costs*

Non-Organic Return Above Total Costs**






$2,040.53 (spring)




Greens (Turnip, Mustard, Collards)



Irish Potatoes



Leaf Lettuce



Summer Squash



Sweet Potatoes









Comparison of return above total costs (variable costs + fixed costs – return) for organic versus non-organic fruit and vegetable crops. *Organic costs based on CFSA’s Organic      Enterprise Budgets. **Non-organic costs based on Clemson Cooperative Extension’s Traditional Vegetable Budgets.




20th Anniversary of the Piedmont Farm Tour

PFT-2015-SlideApril 25-26 from 2-6 PM


Join CFSA in celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Piedmont Farm Tour, the oldest and largest farm tour of its kind. The tour will take place Saturday and Sunday, April 25th and 26th from 2-6 pm both days. Don’t miss your chance to visit 40 local farms!


CFSA members save $10 in by registering in advance – Prices are 25$ in advance for CFSA members ($30 for nonmembers), and 35$ for day-of tickets.


Visit our website for details on volunteering, and to find the full list of participating farms on our Google map: https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/pft/


Need some inspiration to plan your farm tour adventure?  Check out some very cool farm tour adventure trails on the blog!



Piedmont Farm Tour Spring Dinner at Piedmont Restaurant 

Durham, NC Thursday, April 16th, 6:30pm

Farmers Jamie DeMent and Richard Holcomb – owners of Piedmont, Coon Rock Farm, Bella Bean Organics & Heirloom Provisions – invite guests to Piedmont Restaurant April 16th for a spring dinner with farm friends. CFSA’s leaders, local growers, producers and brewers will join guests at the table for dinner, with cocktails beginning at 6:30pm.


Piedmont’s $45 4-course menu benefiting CFSA will feature a variety of delicious local products from many of the CFSA’s members and supporters. The menu will include heritage breed, pastured pork and greens from Coon Rock Farm, early spring vegetables from Four Leaf Farms and Root Down Farm, foraged mushrooms from Woodfruit and Chapel Hill Creamery’s award-winning cheeses. La Farm Bakery will contribute breads made from NC grain, and Eastern Carolina Organics will also donate to the dinner. A North Carolina beer-pairing for each course will also be available, featuring several breweries, including Fullsteam Brewery and others to be announced.


Cost: $45 dinner, or $65 with additional beer pairing.

Date: Thursday, April 16th, 6:30pm

To make reservations, call Piedmont Restaurant at 919.683.1213.


The 2015 Upstate Farm TourSCFARM logo

June 6-7 from 1-6 PM!

Meet Your Local Farmers! Farm Fresh Fun for the Whole Family!

Tour local, sustainable farms and discover the delicious meat, dairy, fruits and veggies produced right here in the Upstate!


CLICK HERE to Buy Your Ticket Now!



DOWNLOAD – Interactive Google Map

  • Plan your tour and Get driving directions!








Connect with CFSA

Join us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/carolinafarmstewards) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/carolinafarm) or contribute to our blog (https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/blog)!

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

Renew your membership to CFSA


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