> Help CFSA meet the $50,000 Challenge with a gift this year-end!
In this edition:
Dec. 8, 2011 at 6:00 pm at the Forsyth County Cooperative Extension Office
Jan. 12-13, 2012 in Rocky Mount, NC
7 Workshops across NC this winter and summer
A Voice for Fair Farm and Food Policies: CFSA Year-End Advocacy Updates
And the Winners are…2011 Sustainable Agriculture Awards
Opening Markets: CFSA’s Local Produce Safety Initiative
from Karen McSwain, CFSA’s Organic Initiative Coordinator
The Perfect Gift for the Foodie on your List?
How about a CFSA gift membership!
Learn to Cook Local for the Holidays
Dec. 8, 2011 at 6:00 pm at the Forsyth County Cooperative Extension Office
This first class in a series of cooking classes open to the public will be taught by chef Kevin Fisher of Winston-Salem farm-to-table restaurant The Screaming Rooster!
> If you are a Winston-Salem or Triad resident and are interested in attending, contact Adrienne Outcalt, Cultivate Piedmont Program Manager at 336-782-1345 or email her or register at CFSA’s online store.
Jan. 12-13, 2012 in Rocky Mount, NC
The third annual Organic Commodities and Livestock Conference is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to network and learn from experienced organic farmers, researchers, and extension agents. This year’s conference will be held January 12-13 in Brown Auditorium Business and Industry Center on the campus of Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, NC.
Conference Highlights: This year’s keynote address will be given by Dr. Francis Thicke, co-owner of Radiance Dairy, a grass-based dairy located near Fairfield, Iowa. With on-farm processing facilities, the Thicke’s produce milk, whipping cream, yogurt, and cheese, all of which are sold to grocery stores and restaurants within four miles of the farm. Other workshop topics will include organic livestock, grain and vegetable production and information on transitioning to certified organic production.
New this Year: There will be a preconference workshop sponsored by FamilyFarmed.org and the USDA’s Risk Management Agency on successful wholesaling techniques, including post-harvest handling and food safety plus a wholesale buyers networking event.
> For more information, or to register for this FREE conference please visit our website at https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/oclc.shtml.
> Vendor space is also available for $195 for both days. Email Brad for more details.
Social Media for Farmers
Want to harness the power of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to reach new customers and grow your farm business? You won’t want to miss this all-day hands-on workshop designed especially for farmers and taught by social media experts, Johanna Kramer (@durhamfoodie) and Cary and Grace Kanoy (GeoCore Films).
You will leave this workshop with a fully-functioning Facebook and Twitter page (or upgrade your existing pages), the skills to shoot your own short farm video using your cell phone, camera, or iPad, and the training to take better farm photos. Includes lunch.
DATES and TIMES:
All workshops will be held from 9:00-4:00 PM.
January 24 – Guilford County
January 31 – Watauga County
February 1 – Gaston County
February 16 – Lenoir County
March 6 – Buncombe County
August 16 – Chatham County
August TBA – Forsyth County
These workshops are funded by a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation and presented in partnership with the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, 10% Campaign, Food Corps, NC Cooperative Extension, and Know Your Farms.
2012 Farm Bill Update– It looks like there will be a 2012 Farm Bill after all. Back in October, it looked like a group of just two Senators and two Representatives would be writing a new five-year Farm Bill in complete secret, without input from the public, and plugging it into the huge deficit reduction bill created (also behind closed doors) by the so-called Congressional Super Committee. Now that the Super Committee has failed to agree on a budget, the normal, open process for a new Farm Bill is back on track for next year, and our community will have a fair chance to influence this critical legislation. Let’s not waste the moment!
Two bills in Congress comprehensively address the needs of local and regional food systems, organic agriculture, and new and beginning farmers. These bills, the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act (bill no. HR 3286 in the House of Representatives, S 1773 in the Senate) and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (HR 3236/S 1850), together would make huge strides in reforming the Farm Bill.
Rep. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina has already signed on as a co-sponsor of both bills! Call your Senators and Representative today and ask them to sign-on, too.
> You can find the contact info for your Congress members here: https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/alert_congress2011.shtml.
Act Now to Oppose NAIS ‘Lite’– Meanwhile, time is running out to comment on the USDA’s latest flawed animal tracking scheme. Small farms and local food will be hurt by this new proposed regulation, much as they were threatened by the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) proposal several years ago. Two years ago USDA dropped its original NAIS plan in the face of huge public outcry from people like you. Now the agency has proposed a new animal tracing system that would impose major, unjustified costs on small-scale livestock producers and the businesses that support them, solely to protect the handful of giant companies that dominate the meatpacking industry.
> Visit CFSA’s action alert page, https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/alert_NAIS.shtml, to learn how to file your comment with USDA against this bad regulation. The comment deadline is Dec. 9, so hurry!
With your Support, CFSA is a Voice for Fair Farm and Food Policies — Here at CFSA, one of our jobs is to stand up for sustainable farmers and their supporters with state and national government. We’ve had great successes over the last few years, from protections for local and organic foods in the federal Food Safety Modernization Act earlier this year, to protecting local food from state budget cuts, to scuttling NAIS the first time around. Help us build on these victories by contributing our $100,000 End-of-the-Year fundraising challenge. Government and foundation grants won’t pay for our advocacy work, so we must depend on you to fuel our campaigns and power grassroots change.
CFSA Recognizes 2011 Sustainable Agriculture Award Winners
for Outstanding Contributions to the Sustainable Local Food Movement
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:
Farmers of the Year, John and Betty Vollmer, Bunn, NC – In the early 1990s, John Vollmer, a third-generation tobacco and small grain farmer, knew that the outlook for tobacco farming was bleak. Moreover, Vollmer had seen the number of farms dwindle in his area from about 250 in the 1970s to just 30. He realized that organic production might provide a means to keep the farm viable. “My main goal was to keep the farm in the family for the next generation,” Vollmer said. So, John completely diversified into pumpkins, strawberries and organics. Recently, John and Betty added organic blueberries and they are looking to expand into more organic varieties. In addition to organic acreage, they have many improvements to soil quality, PH and water holding capacity by using compost and cover crops in their non-organic fields. Now that the family has grown, John’s goal has been realized; the 4th and 5th generations are helping sustain the farm! John has shared his inspiring story of how diversifying with organics saved his farm with conventional farmers, elected officials and the public and is one of the most respected and influential organic farmers in the region. John and Betty are honored for their important contribution to organic agriculture in the Carolinas.
Young Farmers of the Year, Jamie and Amy Ager, Fairview, NC – Jamie and Amy Ager are part owners of Hickory Nut Gap Farm and operate Hickory Nut Gap Meats, the brand under which they market meat sales from the farm. The six children of James and Elspeth Clarke jointly own the land of Hickory Nut Gap Farm and in 2008 the land was put into a conservation easement with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. Protected for eternity, the land will be preserved as farmland and managed by the family. Both Jamie and Amy are graduates of Warren Wilson College and they have three eager boys who enjoy moving cows and feeding baby chicks. Jamie has spent the past few years revitalizing the farm’s pastures and hayfields by developing an intensive rotational grazing system that keeps the livestock out of the creeks and springs. Amy focuses on the marketing and accounting aspects of the farm while working out in the field as much as possible. Jaime and Amy are recognized for their outstanding commitment to sustainable livestock management and land conservation, as well as for providing an inspiring model for young farmers to imitate.
Business of the Year, Eastern Carolina Organics (ECO), Pittsboro, NC – Born as a project of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association in 2004, ECO markets and distributes wholesale Carolina organic farm produce to retailers, restaurants and buying clubs. ECO is completely farmer owned; 80 percent of their sales go right back to the growers. ECO’s customers get fresh organic veggies and fruits, along with the knowledge that they’re enabling farmers to protect their family land. ECO allows participating organic growers to profitably sell their products and supports efforts to improve production and packaging techniques. By pooling diverse harvests from several regions, they have been able to meet the demand for a steady stream of high quality, seasonal food choices throughout the year. ECO’s mission also includes community education about the importance of choosing local and organic produce and helping conventional growers enter the expanding organic market, including assistance in the transition to organic farming. ECO is honored for their commitment to helping sustainable family farms thrive in the Carolinas.
Institution of the Year, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Mineral, VA-Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (SESE) offers more than 700 varieties of vegetable, flower, herb, grain and cover crop seeds. They emphasize varieties that perform well in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast and are specifically adapted to organic conditions. Part of the SESE’s mission is to promote seed saving and traditional plant breeding. According to SESE’s Ira Wallace, “We believe that preserving unusual heirloom varieties helps to preserve and promote that other endangered breed – the American small farm.” They are honored as institution of the year in recognition of their important work to provide a variety of seed saving equipment, as well as seed saving resources in their books and DVDs, to the agricultural community.
Activist of the Year, Janette Wesley, Greenville, SC- A Greenville, SC native, Janette Wesley serves as Convivium Leader of the Slow Food Upstate chapter. With Janette at the helm, this active chapter has accomplished much to, as Janette puts it, “create a space for the ‘feasting and living together’ of those seeking and providing sustenance that is ‘better, cleaner, and fairer’ in Greenville and the Upstate. The group founded one of the country’s first Earth Markets, or farmers’ markets that have been established according to guidelines of the Slow Food philosophy of Good Clean and Fair. These community-run markets are important social meeting points, where local producers offer healthy, quality food directly to consumers at fair prices and guarantee environmentally sustainable methods. The chapter hosts dinners, events, and workshops throughout the year to support four community grants: Slow Food in School; Slow Food on Campus; The Ark of Taste and RAFT (Renewing America’s Food Traditions). Janette is being honored with this award for her tireless efforts to grow grassroots support for fair farm and food policies that affect the Upstate.
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Agent of the Year, Paige Burns, Richmond County- Since embarking on her Extension career in 2008, Paige Burns has worked with energy and enthusiasm to help farmers struggling to adjust to shifting markets. In addition to serving as the local food coordinator in her role as Extension agent, Paige also worked to establish a Voluntary Agriculture District program in Richmond County. She has worked with both farmers and gardeners to make practical application of organic and sustainable practices appropriate for the Sandhills region and, together with fellow Extension Agent, Taylor Williams, she created an organic gardening curriculum to teach sustainable soil and pest management practices. Paige also worked with adjacent counties to launch the Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative, a food hub centered in Carthage, NC, and has worked tirelessly to promote the local food movement in the area. She teamed up with other area agents to host the first local food conference in Hamlet, NC. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Paige is that she has managed to do all of this while serving as interim County Extension Director for Richmond County.
South Carolina Cooperative Extension Agent of the Year, Blake Lanford, Horry County- In his role as the Regional Economic Community Development agent, Blake Lanford has worked extensively to promote agritourism throughout SC. Agritourism refers to activities that may be pursued both on and off the farm to supplement traditional production processes and reconnect with the consumer public. This type of business is of growing importance to small farm enterprises throughout the state. Typically, cooperative organization, marketing and training related to activities of agritourism have been limited in the Pee Dee region of SC, but Blake has helped to change that with the implementation of the Pee Dee Agritourism Passport program. The program incorporates Google Maps to enable residents and visitors to use the Internet to locate on-farm lodging, produce stands and other agriculture related businesses. Also, a printed version of the map that folds to the size of a passport has been made available at area chambers of commerce, convention and visitor bureaus and welcome centers. The program is integrated with S.C. MarketMaker, a program managed by Clemson University that helps agriculture and seafood industries to reach new markets. Together, these two programs now connect all elements of the food chain – from farmers and fisherman to processors and distributors.
> See photos of the winners on our Facebook page!
Record-breaking Attendance at the Sustainable Ag Conference
We are so pleased that so many of you chose to participate in this year’s Sustainable Ag Conference; we had over 1200 people come to some part of the program! Everyone at CFSA would like to thank all the talented people who taught classes and helped with the food, exhibits, activities and logistics. Hopefully, more of you feel inspired and empowered to take on new farm and food projects and get involved in advocating for a better food system.
> Check out great conference photos on our Facebook page and don’t forget to ‘like’ us while you’re there!
> Missed a workshop…one of our intrepid Conference bloggers may have a post about it! Check out all the stories on the Conference at CFSA’s blog!
See you Next Year in SC!
Looking to 2012, we are excited about the venue for next year’s conference: the Hyatt in downtown Greenville, SC. This is a nice convention space and it’s in the heart of walkable downtown Greenville. If you haven’t been to Greenville lately, you will be very impressed with the fun and foodie downtown — and the beautiful riverfront park. Forbes magazine recently named Greenville in the top ten of downtowns nationally. In addition, we are pleased to be working with Clemson and other area folks to connect the event with lots of exciting SC farms and projects. See you Oct 26 – 28, 2012!
Carolina Ground Update
by Jennifer Lapidus, CFSA’s Organic Grains Project Coordinator
I wish I could say the stones are turning, but sadly, we are not quite there yet. The mill remains idle as we attempt to disentangle ourselves from the labyrinth of city code and permitting. But we are close. We received our grain. Sitting in our mill space awaiting our Certificate of Occupancy are pallets five rows wide and five rows deep carrying one-ton totes of NC-grown grain. Our grain stores are comprised of grain from the far eastern corner of the state, the Sandhills, and the western piedmont. We have Appalachian White, NuEast, TAM 303, Turkey Wheat, soft (pastry) wheat, and Wrens Abruzzi Rye. I just got off the phone with one of our growers, Kenny Haines, who said he just planted a little over twenty acres of Turkey for us, and in another couple days, he will be planting our twenty acres worth of NuEast. We’ve also had seed delivered to Billy Carter’s farm in the Sandhills for twenty acres of rye, and seed placed at the Hofner’s farm in Mt Ulla for twenty acres of TAM 303. Job White, a recipient of CFSA’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Scholarship Program that awarded forty young farmers full scholarships to attend CFSA’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference (SAC) in early November, has about ten acres of Turkey growing in his field in Gastonia, and is hoping to have secured a small combine by June for harvest.
We were able to showcase a number of these grains at SAC, using my small mill to supply flour to the bakeries. West End Bakery made hundreds of small herb garlic biscuits with the Hofner’s Appalachian White; Farm and Sparrow Breads supplied hearth loaves of Market Bread made with Turkey wheat grown by John McEntire in Old Fort and the Looking Back Farms in Tyner. Farm and Sparrow also supplied Seeded Rye made from Wrens Abruzzi Rye grown in Old Fort by John. Wildflour Bakery supplied their insane herbed crackers, so addictive they ought to just call them crack. These savory crackers were made from soft wheat grown by Billy Carter. And Annie’s Naturally Bakery supplied focaccia made from NuEast grown by Looking Back Farms.
One last tidbit of news—in the spirit of collaboration with a holiday twist, the Riverbend Malt House brought a sack of malted barley to the mill (barley grown by the Hofners and malted by Riverbend) that I then milled (with my small mill) and sifted and then delivered to the doorstep of French Broad Chocolates here in Asheville. We are hoping for NC-grown maltballs for the holidays. Still waiting to hear back on the results…
CFSA to Help Farmers Transition to Organic; Ensure Food Safety
CFSA is excited about two new Specialty Block Grants that will allow us to build more of the infrastructure that small, sustainable farmers need to be successful. CFSA will partner with the NC Department of Ag to publish a report documenting the wholesale demand for organic produce grown in North Carolina, to provide organic transition support services to specialty crop producers, and to work with North Carolina Fresh Produce Safety Task Force small-farm workgroup on the Local Produce Safety Initiative to identify pathogen control best management practices for small farmers.
We’ll also partner with the SC Department of Ag. to improve outreach to South Carolina specialty crop producers about resource conservation programs and increase adoption of conservation practices; allow them to reduce the cost of implementing organic pest and disease control practices; and provide organic/transitioning producers with the tools they
need in order to be in compliance with the National Organic Program.
Opening Markets: CFSA’s Local Produce Safety Initiative
Food, Inc. and other films exposed the real dangers in the industrial-scale food processing in this county, driving many to the local food economy as a safer, more environmentally and economically sustainable alternative. One way that farmers and food buyers ensure food safety is by using Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification, or an audit of practices carried out by a third-party. Obtaining this certification can sometimes be a market barrier to small farmers.
While the discussion about regulating and implementing food safety guidelines on small farms has been heated, there is a lack of data derived from working farms on what the real barriers are: how much time and money would be required, and/or what process or infrastructure changes might be needed to implement safety risk reduction strategies. Knowing more about these behavioral barriers and potential economic impacts can help in the design of better materials, resources and aids for farmers. The goal of this project: create an evidence-based, practical system for small farms who are trying to reduce public health risks and meet market demands for employing GAPs.
This summer, a team of researchers from NCSU funded by CFSA gathered information on costs and barriers from 12 small farms (less than 20 acres, at least 8 commodities) across North Carolina as they went through steps that could lead to USDA GAP certification. These steps include addressing risks and collecting documentation on food safety practices, which are often cited as the biggest issues. Through this project we will identify practice, facilities and system barriers to the current GAP certification process as well as the economic barriers that have been alluded to in previous reports.
For more information on this project, contact Dr. Ben Chapman, North Carolina State University, or read the excellent blog posts about what the team found on the farms this summer at: http://gapsmallfarmsnc.wordpress.com/.
Expert Tip- Planning for Next Year
by Karen McSwain, CFSA’s Organic Initiative Coordinator
Ah, December, frost has likely taken its toll on many of your outdoor crops and your to-do list has probably never looked so good! However, it is never too early to start planning for next year! Crop planning is an essential component to a successful growing season and when I used to sit down to do this, I always had a few resources at my fingertips to make the process easier. First, I would open up my excel spreadsheets with maps of all my fields that included the length of each field or planting bed. Then I would determine how many rows of each crop I wanted to plant based on the previous year’s sales. Then I would grab my tattered copy of Knott’s Handbook for Vegetable Growers to look up the ideal spacing for the vegetables I planned to grow. This would enable me to determine how many plants or seeds I needed per row. If I was planning to use transplants, I would add 20% to the amount I thought I needed. Next, I would turn to page 51 in Knott’s, Recommendations for Transplant Production to determine how long it would take from seed to seedling before I could transplant out in the field. Then, I would grab my planting guides published by NC State University and determine when it would be safe to plant outside. The next resource I would grab is a date wheel, which came from my sister who worked in construction for many years. This is a GREAT tool and can be bought on the internet for $12 or you could ask any of your construction friends for one. Within minutes I can determine when I need to plant in the field based on harvest and maturity dates and when I need to start transplants in the greenhouse in order to meet my expected field planting date. Once I completed my planting plan for the season I would then transfer the information from my excel spread sheet to a calendar template I created on my computer and fill in all the greenhouse seeding and field seeding/planting dates. I would also include field prep dates so I would be sure the field was ready to be planted according to schedule. Then the season would start and plans would have to be adjusted almost immediately due to various unforeseen issues but, at least I had a plan!
Example of a crop plan from Karen’s excel spreadsheet.
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