eNews October 2015

Dear Friends of Food and Farms,

As this newsletter is finalized, news from the damage inflicted by the rain is still coming in. Our thoughts are with everyone in coastal North and South Carolina as they deal with the rain, flooding, and all of the cleanup still to come. Please be safe.


This year’s 30th (!) annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference is going to be our biggest Conference yet.  Don’t miss the regular registration deadline – rates go up October 15th. As you carefully plan out which pre-conference tours or intensives or regular conference workshops to attend, make sure to include time for the keynote by Michael Twitty on Friday, Nov. 6th, starting at 6:30.

Of course, it’s not all about the conference this month. Read on for news about an organic certification workshop in Pelion, SC, updates on what the Food Safety Modernization Act means for your farm or food business, a call for applications to our food systems business development consulting services and two job announcements.

And, we’re introducing the CFSA Perennial Givers Guild! You are invited to join this group of loyal members who, like the perennial plants the guild is named for, consistently support the work of CFSA. Your monthly gift, of any size, will ensure your donations will go even further to help us build a regional food system that is good for consumers, good for farmers and farmworkers, and good for the land.


elizabeth signature

Elizabeth Read – Communications and Development Director






Organic Certification: Our Farm’s Experience

by guest blogger Jane Saiers (“Farmer J”) of RambleRill Farm.

Learn more about what it takes to become Certified Organic at the Sustainable Agriculture Conference during workshop sessions and a Friday Pre-Conference IntensiveCFSA Farm Services offers consulting for farms ready to transition to organic.

RambleRill barn and sunflowersIn 2010, my husband and I started RambleRill Farm, where we offer educational and wellness programs and grow and sell certified organic fruits, vegetables, and mushrooms. We are proud to grow US Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified organic produce. We ate certified organic foods for years before we started to grow our own food because, like many consumers, we equated “certified organic” with not using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and, therefore, with safer food for us as eaters.

Upon starting the farm in 2010, my husband and I did not intend to pursue organic certification of our produce. We followed the lead of other farmers who described themselves as “following organic practices but not certified.” Then we had an inspirational spark that led our farm to change course and pursue organic certification.

Learn more about Jane’s journey to certified organic



Pulling Weeds to Sowing Seeds at Piedmont BioFarm

by Alyssa Adler and Felicia Cenca, CFSA Interns

Visit Piedmont BioFarm on the Beginning Farmer VIP Tour, a Friday Pre-conference Bus Tour before the 30th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference.

Piedmont BioFarmThe Piedmont Biofarm, located in the Pittsboro eco-industrial park, has been home to many local legends such as farmer Doug Jones and Piedmont Biofuel founder Lyle Estill. Piedmont Biofarm is now co-owned by farmers Will Carmines, Brett Evans, and Geoff Seelen. We visited the farm and met with Will Carmines, a man of integrity and inspiration. Carmines graduated college with a degree in English but quickly discovered that being outside working the land motivated him more than a desk job. This led him to a farming spell in California and then on to Vermont, which piqued his interest in seed saving and plant breeding. This eventually led him to seek out a farm apprenticeship through ATTRA, which connected him to Doug Jones, a farmer, researcher, seed saver, and plant breeder famous for his pepper expertise.

Read on about Will and the BioFarm 


A Taste of Saxapahaw

by Alyssa Adler and Felicia Cenca, CFSA Interns.

Visit Saxapahaw on a Friday Pre-conference Bus Tour before the 30th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference.

Haw River at Saxapahaw. Photo by Leah Joyner.Saxapahaw, NC, is a small village with a rich history, overflowing with charm. Nestled on the banks of the Haw River, this former mill town has grown into a cultural mecca for foodies and farmers alike. The once dilapidated River Mill has transformed into a place worthy of attention from the New York Times on three different occasions, becoming a sought-out destination. If the thought of a charismatic small town with big aspirations is alluring to you, we highly recommend checking out Saxapahaw via a Friday Preconference Bus Tour before the 30th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference.

Learn more about Saxapahaw


Farming To The Demeter Biodynamic® Standard

by Leah Joyner, Education Coordinator.

Demeter USA is hosting a Pre-conference Intensive and Saturday Workshop at the 30th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference!

Whitted Bowers StrawberriesIf you’ve been on one of CFSA’s farm tours, you might have visited with Rob and Cheri at Whitted Bowers Farm and enjoyed picking your own delicious strawberries. We think that part of what makes their strawberries so irresistible is the very unique way they are grown, certified organic and biodynamic. And we’re not the only ones who have caught on to the amazing quality of Rob and Cheri’s products. Whitted Bowers recently announced a partnership with  Nello’s Sauce to produce the first certified biodynamic tomato sauce grown and made in the US.

Learn more about biodynamics 


Sustainable Agriculture and Perennial Grains

by Laura Stewart, Education Director

Wes Jackson

Wes Jackson

On September 15th, Dr. Wes Jackson of the Land Institute gave a talk at Elon University as part of their Voices of Discovery speaker series, which invites innovative speakers in science and mathematics. Jackson is the founder and president of Land Institute, a nonprofit organization whose collaborative research focuses on developing sustainable agricultural practices for the future. A significant effort of the institute is its work to develop grains that will grow will as perennial mixes.

Jackson’s talk was titled, “Ecological Agriculture for an Ecological Civilization”, and he opened with the question, “What do we do to replace the industrial mind that has given us everything from climate change, soil erosion, chemical contamination of the land and water, and more?”

Read on for more on Wes Jackson’s talk 


Come Work with Us!

We're HiringThe Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from women and people of color. 

We are currently hiring for two, full-time positions:​​

Organic Research Coordinator

Farm Services Coordinator

To view the complete job descriptions and to apply, please visit our website at: https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/jobs/ 


Register Now for the Exhibit Hall at the 30th Annual Sustainable Ag. Conference

SAC Exhibit HallCFSA’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference has become the premiere food and farming conference in the Carolinas. With an expected attendance of over 1,400 individuals, this event is the ideal setting to tap into your niche markets in the sustainable agriculture community. Be a part of the 30th anniversary Conference, and make meaningful connections with our vibrant network of farmers, consumers, activists, foodies, businesses, educators and organizations.

Don’t wait to register! We have just a handful of non-profit booth rates left available, and business booths are going quickly, too! Exhibit hall booths are expected to sell out, and prices incur a $50 late fee after October 15th!

Learn more about becoming an Exhibitor at the Conference and register online



FSMA Food Processing Rule—What’s Covered, and Who Isn’t

by Roland McReynolds, Executive Director

FSMAThe Food & Drug Administration has started publishing final regulations under the federal Food Safety Modernization Act.  The rules on Preventive Controls for Human Food are the first up, weighing in at almost 900 pages.  We’ve been analyzing the complex new mandates.

Find out who’s affected


Apply Now for Business Development Consulting Services from CFSA

Food Systems Business Development Consulting Services

CFSA is now accepting new applications for business development consulting services! CFSA will work one-on-one with each selected project in order to develop and launch your sustainable food business. All applications must be submitted by 5:00 pm, Friday, November 13, 2015 to be considered for the first project cycle in 2016.

Learn more about the Food Systems Business Development consulting services and to apply 

To learn more about the projects we worked with in 2015, see https://www./food-projects/ or come to our panel discussion at the Sustainable Ag. Conference, titled “An Agripreneur’s Guide to Leading Best Practices for Growing Your Food Business”.



CFSA Wins Fight to Define Sustainable Agriculture in NC

by Rochelle Sparko, Policy Director

Does this look like sustainable agriculture to you? CFSA didn't think so either.

Does this look like sustainable agriculture to you? CFSA didn’t think so either. Photo credit: USGS

The North Carolina General Assembly finally headed home just before daybreak on September 30. In the final 24 hours of the legislative session, the NCGA passed a number of bills, many of them controversial. These included the Farm Act of 2015, a long bill that altered a number of laws related to agriculture. The original version of the bill defined sustainable agriculture and declared the state’s support for it. Sounds great, right? Until you realize that the bill defined “sustainable agriculture” so broadly as to include any agricultural activity supported by science research.

I know that CFSA’s sustainable farmers have worked hard to give “sustainable agriculture” meaning to their customers.  And I didn’t want to see the hard work given to the term taken by the state. So CFSA did something about it.

Check our blog post to learn more.


Food Access Summit

Food Summit 2015On September 16, food access advocates from around South Carolina gathered in Columbia for a Food Access Summit. Participants were united around a common mission; dismantling barriers that keep low income people from eating healthy food. The guest speakers included Rochelle Sparko, CFSA’s Policy Director, who joined a panel of other policy wonks who shared how local and state polices impact healthy food access, and how they’ve worked to change those policies for the better.

You can keep up to date around farm and food policies by signing up for CFSA’s policy action alerts.




Overseed Established Forages in the Fall

by Keith Baldwin, Farm Services Coordinator

Ladino Clover

Ladino Clover Photo credit: Wayne County Cooperative Extension

Now is the time to overseed your pasture or hay land with cool season annual legumes, grasses and perennial legumes.  Learn which mixes will work best for your needs, how to seed them and when to pull them up in this month’s expert tip.






30th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference

Nov. 6-8, 2015  |  Durham, NC



The 30th Anniversary Sustainable Agriculture Conference is the largest conference we’ve ever produced.  It is chock-full of learning, connecting, feasting and championing local and organic food and farms.  You’ve got to be there!

This year we’ve got 66 incredible workshops, 5 Pre-conference Bus Tours, 13 Hands-on Intensives, 3 Amazing Local & Organic Meals, including the Local Food Feast with keynote by Michael Twitty, 70 Table Exhibitor Hall and Seed Exchange, tons of opportunities to network, and the Book-Sign-A-Ganza!

The Regular Conference Registration Rates are only good through Oct. 14, 2015, so register now!



CFSA Event: Organic Certification Field Day – Pelion, SC

Oct. 15, 2015 from 8:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Pelion High School and WP Rawl Farm
Register Now!: $10, space is limited


  • Organic Certification and Regulations: Ryan Merck, Organic Certification Program Coordinator, Clemson University
  • Meeting the NOP Soil Management Standards: Keith Baldwin, Farm Services Coordinator, CFSA
  • Pest Management Planning for you Organic System Plan: Karen McSwain, Farm Services Director, CFSA
  • Allowable and Prohibited Inputs: Karen McSwain, Farm Services Director, CFSA
  • Challenges and Success: Ben DuBard, Organic Farm Manager, WP RAWL
  • Mock Inspection: Sarah Morrison, Organic Inspector, Clemson University

For all the details and to register for the Field Day

Funding for this workshop comes from a Specialty Crops Block grant awarded by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and the South Carolina Dept. of Agriculture. Special thanks to our hosts at Pelion High School and WP Rawl. Lunch sponsored by WP Rawl.



Workshop Series: Fresh Produce Good Agricultural Practices

Oct 13, 2015 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Oct 28, 2015 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Nov 12, 2015 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Dec 16, 2015 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Working in partnership, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, NC Cooperative County Centers, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems – NC Growing Together Project (CEFS/NCGT) will be offering a two-part workshop aimed at providing farmers with the tools to identify hazards on your farm; to prepare a food safety hazard assessment; and to create and implement a custom food safety plan that integrates your farm’s practices while meeting market requirements for GAP certification. Taking this course will not result in GAPs Certification; rather attendees can leave these workshops with a well-developed working draft of their specific food safety plan, which becomes the framework for a GAP certification audit and can be used to demonstrate an individual farm’s risk-reduction program.


Workshop Locations across NC:

Yancey County Cooperative Extension Office
30E Hwy 19E Bypass, Burnsville, NC 28714

Dates: October 13 & 20, 2015
Times: 9am – 5pm
Registration Deadline: October 6

Registration: $30 (check or money order ONLY made payable to Yancey County Cooperative Extension) and includes lunch both days. Space is limited (10-12 participants) and available on a first come, first served basis. For more information or to register, contact Tres Magner at 828-682-6218 or tres_magner@ncsu.edu by

October 6, 2015.


O. P. Owens Agriculture Center
455 Caton Road, Lumberton

Dates: October 28 and November 5, 2015
Times: 9 am – 5 pm
Registration Deadline: October 21, 2015

Registration is $25 (check or money order ONLY made payable to Robeson County Cooperative Extension) and includes lunch both days. Space is limited (10-12 participants) and available on a first come, first served basis. For more information or to register, contact Mack Johnson, Extension Horticultural Agent, at 910-671-3276 or by E-mail at mack_johnson@ncsu.edu by October 21.


Franklin County Cooperative Extension Center
103 S Bickett Blvd Louisburg, NC 27549

Dates: November 12 & 19, 2015
Time: 9 am – 5 pm
Registration Deadline: November 5, 2015

Registration is $40 (check or money order ONLY made payable to Franklin County Cooperative Extension) and includes lunch both days. Space is limited (10-12 participants) and available on a first come, first served basis. For more information or to register, Martha Mobley, Agricultural Agent, by November 5at (919) 496-3344, martha_mobley@ncsu.edu.


Mountain Horticultural Crops & Research Center
455 Research Drive Mills River, NC 28759

Dates: December 16 & 17, 2015
Times: 9 AM to 5 PM
Registration Deadline: December 9, 2015

Registration Information (TBA)

This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U. S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2013-68004-20363. 

Questions?: Contact Diane_Ducharme@ncsu.edu, 704-250-5402.





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