Showing Up and Speaking Up – CFSA Advocacy Work Makes a Difference

ONE OF OUR 2015 INSPIRING MEMBER STORIES

By Stephanie Campbell, CFSA’s Outreach Coordinator

Kat Spann of Prodigal Farm in Rougemont, NC, knows first-hand how important it is for our legislators to hear our stories and see the direct impact their policies have on their constituents and the communities they represent.

“We all need to work as a team with CFSA,” she says, “being willing to step up and do something – attend Ag Day and other local, county and state agricultural gatherings, send an email, make a phone call, and, sometimes, show our face.”

Kat encourages us all to “be authentically yourself and tell your own story.” She tells her own story of the day she was all dressed up to speak before the Durham County Commissioners about zoning ordinances for farmers markets. While waiting for their issue to come up on the agenda, she was called back to the farm to care for a doe having trouble delivering her kids.

A couple hours later, after suffering her only loss of a doe during birthing, she checked back in and found that the Commissioners had not yet gotten to her item on the agenda. She decided to head back to the meeting and speak, covered in manure, urine, placenta, and her own tears because “this is what farmers look like.”

Spann-EOY-2015 - GIVEIt was a powerful image. Farmers are often out of sight and out of mind for elected leaders. It is up to us to put a face on the issues that affect farmers. Many elected officials don’t know a farmer, but we can change that.

CFSA staff, members, partners and friends work together to advocate for fair farm and food policies. We work to change agriculture laws and regulations to benefit local and organic small and mid-sized farms.

Kat’s advocacy work isn’t new for her. When Kat and partner, Dave Krabbe, moved to the farm from New York City, they learned that a biocontainment laboratory for the study of diseases that threaten both America’s animal agricultural industry and public health was planned to be built down the road from the farm. This was alarming since it would put research on diseases which have no current cure or treatment right in their community. Plans for the farm were put on hold as they spent more than a year in full-time grassroots advocacy and lobbying. Some of the lessons learned were how important research, verification and credibility are for successful opposition as well as showing legislators the real impact of an action on the constituency they serve.

Prodigal Farm was established by Kat Spann and Dave Krabbe in 2007 and has grown toProdigal Farms (21) become an Animal Welfare Approved goat farm and licensed farmstead cheese dairy. Kat names each of their kids each spring – 175 this year – and knows most of them by name and personality. Building and licensing their milking and production facility was another opportunity for policy, advocacy and lobbying work, this time on issues of appropriate dairy waste systems. Kat eventually spoke before the House and Senate Ag Committee which resulted in the introduction of a scale-appropriate law which now is beneficial to goat and cow dairies, as well as wineries, pickle making, and other value-added farm businesses.

“We all need to work as a team with CFSA,” she says, “being willing to step up and do something – attend Ag Day and other local, county and state agricultural gatherings, send an email, make a phone call, and, sometimes, show our face.”

Kat, along with her senior farm hand Will Bahr, Genell Pridgen of Rainbow Meadow Farm, and Suzanne Nelson of Haw River Ranch, were recognized by CFSA this year for hand-delivering a letter signed by 40 farmers to Gov. McCrory in opposition to House Bill 405 (known as the Ag Gag bill). Kat insists that she didn’t “do much” in this case but again emphasizes that each farmer must be willing to step up and do something.

For Kat, CFSA is an essential part of the team farmers need. Farmers have little time to read the full legal briefs and parse the nuances of the regulations but they do care passionately about the outcomes. So does CFSA.

CFSA staff can do the research, develop the connections, and build the relationships to provide the strong foundation farmers need on which to do their part. Kat reminds us “CFSA knows when our stories need telling – and our role is to show up and speak up!”

Prodigal Farm is a finalist in the national Good Food Awards – read more here.

Read more about the advocacy work of CFSA at www.carolinafarmstewards.org/advocacy/

Your gift to CFSA is one of the best ways you can support local farmers and champion food that is good for consumers, good for farmers and farmworkers, and good for the land.

Please give today.

You can donate online at /give

or mail a check to CFSA, PO Box 448, Pittsboro, NC 27312

 

Family Farm in South Carolina Increases Market Sales with Organic Certification

ONE OF OUR 2015 INSPIRING MEMBER STORIES

By Stephanie Campbell, CFSA’s Outreach Coordinator

When Lisa Rees and her husband, Taylor, moved back to their family land in 2013, their neighbors warned them, “You can’t grow organically down here.” The admonitions didn’t stop Lisa and Taylor of Five Forks Sustainable Farm LLC in Pageland, SC. In 2014, Lisa received a Dow Scholarship to the CFSA Sustainable Agriculture Conference. Then, in just two years, with the expert technical assistance of CFSA Farm Services staff, Five Forks Farm has completed a Conservation Activity Plan (CAP) and an Organic Certification Transition Plan.

Lisa-and-Taylor-Rees-EOY-2015.jpg

“We got our organic certification in August, and our sales at the Farmers’ Market increased by six-fold this week!” shared Lisa. “Thanks for all of your help and advice . . . I’m sure we would not have come this far without the help of CFSA!” Lisa and Taylor have big plans for their farm in the next ten years. Although they are currently farming only about two acres of vegetables and fruits, their 382 acres was part of an original land grant from King George and they hope to pass on a family legacy of healthy, natural, beautiful land producing an alternative to conventional agriculture. Lisa’s grandfather raised beef cattle on the land from the 1930s to the 1990s. “When he passed away the farm was just left to die,” said Lisa.

“Since there are not many organic farmers in our area the network of CFSA farmers has been a lifeline for us. We don’t feel so alone and we have a wealth of resources and farming friends to draw on and learn from.”

Lisa and Taylor spent 30 years living and working in Boone, NC, where they supported the progressive farming community there. Lisa is a CPA and Taylor worked as a truck driver. A visit to the homestead in Pageland for a holiday a few years ago renewed their appreciation for the abundance of the land and their commitment to family, healthy food, and stewardship of their family legacy.

When considering a move back to the family farm, they were excited to learn that CFSA serves both North and South Carolina. They took advantage of workshops, resources, and building connections to other sustainable farming members. To prepare for the move and beginning farming, they also interned on a local farm, learned how to process chickens and visited Polyface Farm in Virginia. CFSA staff helped the Rees’ complete a Conservation Action Plan for the farm and become Certified Organic.

Lisa credits their success at the Union County Farmers’ Market in Monroe to CFSA advice and encouragement. As they continue to learn and grow, their plans over the next few years include expanding the market garden, raising heritage pastured hogs and poultry, and returning cattle to the land in rotational grazing. “Since there are not many organic farmers in our area,” says Lisa, “the network of CFSA farmers has been a lifeline for us. We don’t feel so alone and we have a wealth of resources and farming friends to draw on and learn from.”

Read more about CFSA Farmer Services at:  www.carolinafarmstewards.org/farm-services/ Your gift to CFSA is one of the best ways you can support local farmers and champion food that is good for consumers, good for farmers and farmworkers, and good for the land.

Please give today.

You can donate online at /give

or mail a check to CFSA, PO Box 448, Pittsboro, NC 27312

 

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