Dear Friends of Farms and Food,
Hearing directly from the person who grows or raises your food gives you a deeper understanding of what it takes to bring food from the farm to your plate. In this month’s eNews, we have the pleasure of hearing from Samantha Gasson of Bull City Farm and Russ Vollmer of Vollmer Farm about what they want you to know about their product and how they produce it. I think you’ll agree that one thing these farmers have in common is that they care about bringing you food that they are proud of and stand behind. As Samantha of Bull City Farm says, “Our goal is to produce good food that we want to eat.”
You can see how they do it first-hand on the Eastern Triangle Farm Tour, Sept. 19-20, and learn even more about where your food comes from.
Or, dig even deeper and join us Nov. 6-7 in foodie paradise, Durham, NC, for our 30th anniversary Sustainable Agriculture Conference! Members-only early bird registration starts today!
Elizabeth Read – Communications and Development Director
P.S. Now is a GREAT time to become a CFSA member! You’ll enjoy a nice discount on the Eastern Triangle Farm Tour and the Sustainable Ag. Conference. Join us!
In this edition:
Nov. 6-8, 2015 in Durham, NC
September 19-20, 2015
1-5 PM both days
5 Things Your Farmer Wants You to Know about Good Food
by guest blogger, Russ Vollmer, Vollmer Farm
1. Good food starts with a promise and shared values
Good food starts with a promise woven with many threads of trust. The small family farms featured on the upcoming Eastern Triangle Farm Tour are very diverse in what we grow. One thing we all have in common is a motivation to share our stories, our farms, and our passion for good food with customers seeking a relationship built on trust.
5 Things Your Protein Farmer Wants You to Know about Pasture-raised Food
by guest blogger, Samantha Gasson, Bull City Farm
You can visit Bull City Farm and 25 other amazing sustainable farms on the Eastern Triangle Farm Tour, Sept. 19-20. Buy your tickets today!
1. Pasture raised meats help save, and improve, farmland.
Farming of any type helps preserve farmland and open spaces. We’re obviously a bit biased but we feel strongly that there is something about open space that resonates in the hearts of most people. In an urban county like ours (Durham), it is even more crucial to ensure as much land as possible remains undeveloped. Whether it’s row crops, pasture or tobacco, as long as there is money to be made farming, there will be someone willing to get their hands dirty, provided they can afford to get started. Commodity farming can be profitable on large tracts of land, but going forward it’s the niche farmer who’s going to make the difference in urban counties like our own. Those of us selling directly to the consumer have the potential to start cheap and earn more per acre, which allows us to farm on a scale that works for us. It provides the flexibility to raise animals in a way that we feel good about and in a way that we feel is better for the environment.
Walking in Another Man’s Shoes: Exploring Food Access in Charleston, SC
Field Notes by guest blogger, Lindsey Barrow of Lowcountry Street Grocery
Lowcountry Street Grocery (LSG) in Charleston, SC, has raised just more than $47,000 to get their mobile farmers’ market rolling. Operations will take place aboard a classic retrofitted school bus, bringing healthy, local and affordable food to areas where the farmers’ market experience and access to good food hasn’t been easy to find.
LSG is one of four Food Systems Consulting Projects in South Carolina working with Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. CFSA is working with LSG to bolster their production and operations strategies as they work to provide a sustainable, long-term solution to healthy food access in underserved communities.
Lindsey Barrow, LSG founder, recently embarked on a tour of a North Charleston food desert area that inspired this farmers’ market on wheels. He set out on foot (as many residents of the area do) for a mid-day grocery trip. His experience was both humbling and eye-opening.
Southeast Regional Climate Hub – Weathering climate change through adaptive management
by guest blogger, Sarah Wiener, SERCH CoordinatorClimate change has been all over the news lately, from the drought in California, to the Pope’s Encyclical, to unpassed EPA regulations. Do you ever think, “Okay, I know this is important, I know it’s big, but what does it mean for my farm?” Lucky for you, there is an organization right in your backyard here to answer those questions. The USDA Regional Climate Hubs were established last year across the country, and the Southeast Regional Climate Hub (SERCH), in Raleigh, NC, is here to serve the agricultural climate change needs of the Carolinas (along with 9 other southeastern states).
Check out this blog post about SERCH’s climate alert tools, workshops, webinars and more or hear all about their work at this year’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference. Sarah will be giving a workshop on Climate-Smart Decision Support Tools for Agriculture Adaptation.
Bull City Cool Food Hub
A Local Food Hub That’s Connecting Farmers, Food Businesses, and Non-Profits in Durham, NC
Bull City Cool is a home-grown local food hub. Located in Durham, NC, construction on this project began in Summer 2014 and they expect to open for business very soon. A local nonprofit, Reinvestment Partners, is converting the historic Gulf gas and service station – most recently a used tire store – into a food hub that helps get local farmers’ fresh produce to consumers, providing cool and cold storage for Durham businesses and nonprofits. The new food hub is one of CFSA’s Food Projects.
We sat down with Peter Skillern of Reinvestment Partners to see what makes Bull City Cool so cool.
NCDA Prepares for Possible Avian Influenza Outbreak
In preparation for a possible outbreak of avian influenza, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has issued a statement requiring all poultry owners to register for a NCFarmID number. CFSA is the process of evaluating this policy; we are in communication with the State Veterinarian’s office to get more information about this process and how it will affect poultry producers across the state. We will provide updated information to the public through our website and to our members through our regional listservs.
Pitt County Food Council Discussions Taking Root
Members of the Pitt County community have been meeting over the past several months to discuss the formation of a food council to serve the county. CFSA staff and members of the Community Food Strategies team met with members of this group this past month to facilitate a meeting. We discussed potential steps to move forward with food council development. The group has a diverse membership of stakeholders and is looking for other members of the Pitt County community to join them in their work.
For more information on food councils, on Community Food Strategies, or on how you can get engaged in Pitt County, please contact CFSA Community Mobilizer, Jared Cates, at jared@
CFSA Helps Out with Local Food Systems Course for Cooperative Extension Agents
This past month was the final meeting of the first cohort of NCSU’s Local Food Systems Graduate Course, and Professional Development Course, for Extension Agents. This course was a comprehensive training program in local food systems focused toward an audience of Extension agents from all program areas (ANR/CRD, FCS and 4-H). The course was made possible by the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE). The intent of the course was to increase the capacity of Extension and other educators to work with and educate growers, buyers, and community members in the development of high performing local food systems.
Members of CFSA’s Policy Team, Rochelle Spark and Jared Cates, both presented to the final class about the many different levels and aspects of policy. The class also learned about food councils and their development, and CFSA moderated a small panel of NC Cooperative Extension agents who are currently involved in food councils in their communities. Videos of presentations from all of the class can be found here, as well as contact information for the class moderators.
Give to the William W. Dow Scholarship Fund for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers
CFSA hears a lot about the need to support beginning farmers – through education, networking, and infrastructure changes. One of the best way that we accomplish this is through sending new farmers to the Sustainable Agriculture Conference as William W. Dow Scholars. This scholarship honors a sustainable farming pioneer, and helps put a new generation of farmers on the path to success.
Our goal is to send 24 beginning farmers to this year’s conference, the 30th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference. With your gift to the William W. Dow Scholarship Fund for beginning farmers and ranchers, you can join with CFSA to invest in the next generation of sustainable, organic farmers.
Food you trust starts at the source – the farmer – and there’s never been a better way to lend new farmers a helping hand. Bill Dow believed that in order for today’s beginning farmers to continue to grow a vibrant, sustainable local food system, they would need training, networking and mentorships.
A $250 gift covers one scholarship, but your contribution to the fund at any level will give a young farmer invaluable training opportunities as they seek to invest their lives in organic and sustainable agriculture.
Meet Our New Staff!
Thomas Moore, our new NC Food Systems Coordinator, grew up in Concord, NC and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with a BA in Religious Studies and Peace, War, and Defense. Following graduation, he continued his studies in Vancouver, BC Canada and received a Post Baccalaureate Diploma from the Faculty of Environmental Studies at Simon Fraser University. He has experience in sustainable community development, supply chain management, food security initiatives, and developing sustainable food systems. Thomas moved back to his hometown with his wife, Rindy, and their daughter where they raise backyard chickens, ducks, bees, and grow seasonal vegetables.
James Cooper, our new Local Produce Safety Coordinator, is an N.C. native with a BS in Natural Resource Management/Environmental Science from UNC-Wilmington. He is a sustainable agricultural specialist and founding member of three organic farming and production operations. With more than 15 years of experience promoting sustainable farming technologies and systems, James specializes in food logistics, responsible production methods, commercial USDA organic vegetable production, and supporting the implementation and development of successful farming programs. James is looking forward to supporting farmers with food safety compliance in production, retail, post-harvesting handling, processing and packing houses.
CFSA is Hiring!
We’re looking for an Organic Policy Coordinator. This is a full-time (40 hours/week) position with CFSA, based in CFSA’s Pittsboro, NC office. This new position will work as part of the Policy Team to advocate for the interests of family-scale organic farmers with national and state regulators. The Organic Policy Coordinator will identify and implement strategies and tactics to prevent dilution of the organic standards and ensure that consumers’ expectations of the standards—environmental stewardship, family-scale farming, fair labor practices, high animal welfare standards, zero tolerance for GMOs, freedom from chemical residues, and wholesomeness—are met. This is a 15-month, grant funded position.
Applications are due by August 24, 2015. The anticipated start date is October 5, 2015.
Will The US Senate Let FDA Break the Law?
by Roland McReynolds, Executive Director
When Congress enacted the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), one of the key protections for local food systems was that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was prohibited from requiring farmers or food entrepreneurs to undergo third party compliance audits. One of these audits can be expensive—costing anywhere from $700 to $14,000 per year—and Congress recognized that this was an unnecessary financial burden on farms and small food businesses. FSMA is crystal clear: FDA cannot require such audits to prove, or as a condition of, compliance with either the rules governing practices for growing produce, or those for food and feed manufacturing.
Unfortunately, it looks like FDA didn’t read the law. When the agency published proposed FSMA rules last year, it included a requirement that food facilities—which includes everything from produce packing houses to animal feed mills to factories making Cheeze Whiz—have a ‘Supplier Verification’ program. Supplier Verification means those facilities must obtain annual documentation from their suppliers, including farms, that those suppliers are in compliance with FSMA. The only way to prove compliance? A third-party audit.
The final versions on the rule are due to be published soon, so there’s still time to put pressure on FDA and the White House to withdraw this costly and unlawful Supplier Verification mandate. One way to do that is to get members of the US Senate to complain to FDA about the proposal. Call your US Senator today and ask him to contact FDA to demand that the agency abide by the law and strip the Supplier Verification requirement out of the final rules.
When you call, here’s you can say:
- Introduce yourself (first and last name) and explain that you are a citizen of North or South Carolina (if you are a farmer or run a food business, be sure to say so).
- Say that you are calling because you are concerned about the FDA’s Supplier Verification requirement in its proposed preventive controls rules under FSMA.
- Say that you oppose the requirement because:
- Congress specifically forbade FDA to require third-party compliance audits, and FDA cannot be allowed to violate Congressional intent.
- The costs of these audits will be devastating for small farms and food businesses—anywhere from $700 to $14,000 for one audit, not counting the cost to the farm or business in recordkeeping and paperwork.
- Small farms and businesses will lose markets when they can’t afford these audits.
- Say, “thank you”.
If you feel nervous about making a phone call, watch CFSA’s “How To Call Your Representative” video.
Here’s contact info for the Carolinas’ Senators:
Richard Burr: (202) 224-3154
Thom Tillis: (202) 224-6342
Tim Scott: (202) 224-6121
Lindsey Graham: (202) 224-5972
Tell North Carolina to Invest to Increase Access to Healthy, Local Food
by Rochelle Sparko, Policy Director
Wouldn’t it be great if it was easy for farmers to get their healthy, locally grown food to people who live far from a grocery store? We think so too! That’s why CFSA supports a provision in the North Carolina budget that will provide loans and technical assistance to corner store owners to enable them to stock food grown by local farmers.
The House and Senate are working to finalize the budget, so we’re asking you to call your legislators today to ask them to support this investment.
“DARK Act” Passes the U.S. House of Representatives
by Jared Cates, Community Mobilizer
The U.S. House passed H.R. 1599 – the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (also known as the D.A.R.K. Act – Deny Americans the Right to Know Act) – with a vote of 275-150 on July 23, 2015. Visit our website for more information on this harmful bill and to learn how your Congressperson voted. We will update our members if and when the Senate begins consideration of this, or a similar, bill. Media reports state that the bill’s sponsor, Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS), and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) are in talks now about getting a companion bill through the Senate; work is expected to begin this fall.
Register Now for the 30th Anniversary Sustainable Agriculture Conference
Nov. 6-8, 2015 in Durham, NC
THE FOOD AND FARM EVENT OF THE YEAR!
The Sustainable Agriculture Conference brings together those new to the movement and experienced veterans to network and collaborate. There is no place like the Sustainable Agriculture Conference to learn from the experts about cutting-edge techniques and innovative programs and to connect with others who are just as passionate about rebuilding a healthy, local foodshed from seed to plate.
Join farmers, health advocates, gardeners, homesteaders, agri-preneurs, ag-tivists, consumers and everyone in-between to learn, network, celebrate, and champion local and organic foods and farms.
Check out these unparalleled opportunities to learn and connect:
- 66 Workshops in 2 incredible days, including a First Time Conference Attendee Program and workshops to take seasoned veterans to the next level
- 5 Pre-conference Bus Tours take you to some of the Triangle’s most innovative farms and restaurants
- 11 Hands-on Intensives and 1 Get-Your-Hands-Dirty Off-site Learning Opportunity
- 70 Table Exhibitor Hall
- CFSA’s Annual Meeting
- Regional and Topical Meetings
- Meeting Space you can reserve for your meetings, plus nice, long breaks for connecting and networking
- Speed Networking and Topic-based networking tables at lunches
- Seed Exchange
- VIP CFSA Member Lounge
Register now! The member’s only early bird rates fly away Aug. 19th!
Tickets on Sale Now for the 10th Annual Eastern Triangle Farm Tour!
September 19-20, 2015
1-5 PM both days
The 10th annual Eastern Triangle Farm Tour, sponsored by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and Whole Foods Market, will give participants a behind-the-scenes look at 26 sustainable farms in Durham, Wake, Franklin, Granville and Person counties – including 10 incredible new farms. There is something for everyone; gorgeous late-summer, organic vegetables, urban farms and gardens, farmstead cheeses, mushrooms, cooking demonstrations, food trucks, pollinator gardens, cute alpaca’s, Animal Welfare Approved & unique heritage breed animals, honey bee hives, hayrides, and more!
This self-guided driving tour happens Saturday and Sunday, September 19-20, 1-5 PM both days.
Tour tickets, good for both days, are $30 per vehicle in advance and $35 on the tour weekend. CFSA members receive a $5 discount for registering in advance online. Or, you can choose to pay $10 per farm (available for purchase at all of the farms during the tour). Cycle groups count as one vehicle. Tickets can be purchased now at www.carolinafarmstewards.org/etft or at any Triangle Whole Foods Market in a few weeks.
THERE ARE AWESOME EVENTS HAPPENING ALL ACROSS THE CAROLINAS! CHECK THEM OUT IN THE EVENTS CALENDAR!
Connect with CFSA
To join the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, visit: https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/join/