By Angie Lavezzo, CFSA Communications Coordinator | Tuesday, May 3, 2022 –

Farmer Chris Neal and his family grow 110 acres of butter beans on their farm, Carolina Butter Beans & Produce Farm, in Goldsboro, NC. They grow other crops like squash, okra, cucumbers, and sweet onions, but butter beans are their specialty, though, and folks in the South, this author included, love our butter beans. Growing the roughly 10,000 bushels of beans–equivalant to approximately 40,000 lbs.–a year is a family affair. Wendy, Chris’s wife, keeps the books and is a school teacher. Their two sons, Hayden and Will, are third-generation farmers in the making. Hayden, the oldest, works as the farm manager while he finishes his degree in agriculture. Will, the youngest, helps out with harvesting and running equipment when not playing sports for his school team. Just like Chris, both sons have expressed interest in following in the family footsteps. (more…)

by Marianna Spence, CFSA Membership Coordinator | Monday, July 12, 2021 —

 

“CFSA has saved my livelihood not once, not twice, but three times,” said Paula Hall, owner of Eden Song Wheatgrass and a CFSA Member. A farmer for more than 20 years, Paula grows nutrient-dense wheatgrass for wholesale markets at her small farm in Zebulon, NC.

“At the outset of 2020, I employed two part-time staff to help with the labor-intensive production of wheatgrass, my only crop. COVID definitely impacted my buyers; I could cry over it.”

Nine months into the pandemic, Paula was preparing to apply for farmer assistance funds. She found that application after application, and call after call, went ignored because wheatgrass wasn’t specifically listed as an eligible crop for relief payments.

(more…)

Butler Family Farms in Roseboro, NC, is experiencing a revival of sorts. The North Carolina Century Farm, aged 109 years, has been in Timmy Butler’s family since his grandfather bought the original 14 acres for $140. Since then, Timmy’s family has grown a variety of produce, raised hogs, planted family kitchen gardens, and leased out the land as Timmy’s generation of brothers and sisters earned degrees and led lives off the farm. But now, as they retire from corporate jobs, the ten siblings are looking to add USDA Certified Organic farmers to their repertoire.

 

Butler Family Farms

Butler Family Farms

Timmy became a CFSA member and enrolled in Organic Certification Consulting (free to farmer members). On a chilly spring morning, Farm Services Coordinator, Mark Dempsey, visited the farm to help Timmy prepare to apply for certification. After a tour of the high tunnel and fields, Timmy and Mark made their way to sister Louise’s home for the paperwork portion.

 

Organic Certification Consulting

Organic Certification Consulting

Louise grows all the farm’s seedlings in a small greenhouse behind her home, the family’s main gathering place. She also tends a beautiful flower and kitchen garden, which was brimming with lettuce. “When I was growing up, I always wanted to get out of here,” she recalled. “But after a career in human resources in New Jersey, I’m back to embracing the peacefulness.”

Mark and Timmy discussed the need for better record keeping software. Timmy, who also runs a funeral home, said he can update his field logs based on his business calendar, but he’s looking for a better way. “Consulting services can include guidance in record keeping—a huge part of maintaining certified organic status—basic information on different certifying agents, answering questions about production regulations, and a review of your certification application,” said Mark.

Timmy has eager buyers from local grocery stores and restaurants for his pesticide-free basil, tomatoes, jalapenos, and watermelons. He’s excited for the future connections that certification will bring. “Through the CFSA listservs, I’ve already secured a buyer for my first crop of certified soybeans, and I’ve connected with a research university to conduct field trials,” said Timmy. “We’ve always grown without pesticides, and my siblings and I have prioritized sourcing organic seed and inputs. But certification is important because of the opportunities it will provide the farm.”

Butler Family Farms

Butler Family Farms

Exciting things are happening at Butler Family Farms. From digging a new pond for future irrigation expansion to mailing off their organic certification application—the Butler siblings and their century farm aren’t slowing down.

 

Funding for this project was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant AM170100XXXXG084. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.

In anticipation of the 2018 Piedmont Farm Tour at the end of the month, we caught up with a few farmers that will open their barn doors come April 28-29th to give folks a sneak peek into what a day in the life at their farm is like.

Two farms on the tour circuit that caught our eye are producing fiber: one from sheep and the other from alpacas. In today’s post, we’ll share our interview with Sarah Conyer of Alpaca Dreams, an alpaca farm situated in Louisburg, NC. Sarah, and her husband, Mike, have 12 alpacas and two llamas situated on their five-acre farm in Franklin County.

Both retirees from stressful corporate jobs, Sarah and Mike came to farming later in life to find a little peace.

(more…)

In anticipation of the 2018 Piedmont Farm Tour at the end of the month, we caught up with a few farmers that will open their barn doors come April 28-29th to give folks a sneak peek into what a day in the life at their farm is like.

In today’s post, we’ll share our interview with Ben Shields of In Good Heart Farm, a small, un-certified organic vegetable farm in Pittsboro, NC. Ben, and his partner, Patricia Parker, along with their two young children, have four acres in production, including a fruit orchard.

Nine years ago, the two started the farm on rented land in Clayton, NC, and later relocated their operation to Bill Dow‘s old property in Chatham County.

With two hearts geared toward social justice, food access, and environmental stewardship, Ben and Patricia have aptly named their farm.

(more…)

How an Organic Farm In Alamance County Grows the Flavors of Childhood for Immigrant Communities in the Triangle 

by Elizabeth Read, CFSA’s Communications and Development Director 

Clay Smith of Redbud Farms shows off his field of extra large garlic, a variety prized by South Asian customers. Photo by Elizabeth Read

One of the best parts of working at CFSA is gaining a greater understanding of the innovative ways that farmers are able to solve problems. Sometimes that means figuring out how to hack the perfect tool to keep something from going haywire, but other times it means recognizing a space in the market where your product meets a real need. Having the knowledge to meet unmet needs is not something that comes from browsing seed catalogs, it comes from building a relationship with customers and really knowing what fruits and vegetables they are looking to cook with – but just can’t get anywhere else.

 

When Clay Smith and his wife, Nancy Joyner, started Redbud Farm, a certified organic produce farm on his family’s fallow tobacco fields in 2009, they wouldn’t have been able to dream of some of the crops they grow now. And it is not just because farming inherently requires farmers to adapt to a changing marketplace to keep their farm successful. It’s because they had never eaten or heard of those vegetables, let alone grown them for market before. But thanks to a request from a customer at Western Wake Farmers Market, Redbud Farm is now a vital part of the North Carolina Japanese cooking scene.

The greenhouse at Red Bud Farm. Photo by Elizabeth Read

The greenhouse at Redbud Farm.                       Photo by Elizabeth Read

 

Keiko Ueda was already a Redbud customer when she mentioned to Clay and Nancy that she dreamed of being able to eat a variety of Japanese sweet potato variety that she remembered from her childhood in Japan. She just couldn’t find it in North Carolina, where she teaches Japanese language and cooking classes. The sweet potato is a staple vegetable in Japanese cuisine and Keiko’s uncle had grown it on his certified organic farm in Japan.

 

Already growing Carolina Ruby and a few other sweet potato varieties on their Alamance County farm, Clay and Nancy saw an opportunity to supply a product to a niche market. Working with NC State’s sweet potato micro-propagation lab, Clay was able to source a certified organic slip of the variety Keiko remembered eating. In that first year, Clay grew a few hundred pounds of the Japanese sweet potato. Keiko, deeply integrated in the Triangle Japanese immigrant community, helped connect Redbud’s produce with eaters throughout North Carolina. “Soon after we began selling the Japanese sweet potatoes to Keiko, we began to receive ‘Thank You’ emails from Japanese folks all across central North Carolina.” Today, Clay and Nancy grow well over 1,000 pounds of Murasaki sweet potatoes and sell almost all of them through Keiko and a few other regular Japanese customers at Western Wake Market.

 

Carolina Ruby and Japanese Sweet Potatoes.
Photo by Elizabeth Read

Carolina Ruby and Japanese Sweet Potatoes

 

This isn’t the only time Clay and Nancy have been able to be savvy farmers and respond to a market opportunity. Clay had spent time in India as part of the Peace Corps, and was a frequent customer of Indian restaurants in North Carolina. He soon found out that chefs at these restaurants often struggled in finding specific varieties of peppers needed to create the right spice in traditional dishes. He worked with chefs to grow those native peppers, and they can now be found on menus throughout the Piedmont. Redbud Farm also grows some Indian vegetables to sell to the many Western Wake customers from India. These include bitter gourd, snake gourd, bottle gourd and a small purple eggplant. Redbud Farm also participated in the 2014 CFSA organic broccoli variety trial. The trial was in response to another market need – the supply gap for organic broccoli grown in the Carolinas. With Redbud’s participation, CFSA was able to test to see the best varieties of broccoli to grow in the Carolinas.

 

While farmers often get stereotyped with the notion that they are all growing the same kind of kale, the truth is often something much more like what Clay and Nancy experience. If farmers all grew the same variety of tomato or pepper, they wouldn’t be able to stay in business for long. In response, you’ll find farmers at your local market using business ingenuity to find new customers.

 

Satisfying this market need for a specific sweet potato variety is a terrific example of how the relationship between a farmer and his or her buyer goes beyond the weekly market transaction. It gives an opportunity for the buyer to connect with the farmer – and this instance, impact an entire community.

 

Farmers Clay Smith and Nancy Joyner with their grandson, Jameson, on the farm.                   Photo by Elizabeth Read

This Columbia, SC Mother, Gardener and Small Business Owner is Passionate about Eating Healthy, Local Foods

Lauren-and-baby

 

CFSA’s Amy Armbruster:  Why are organic foods important to you?

Lauren Small: I used to have no knowledge of the importance of good nutrition and organic food. I ate terribly. Cheese fries between jobs, a candy bar for a quick snack, fast food late at night. I never thought it was affecting me; I was thin and thought that “healthy eating” was only for people trying to lose weight. Fast forward a few years and I was in a health crisis. To be honest, I had health issues for years, but it took me quite some time to put two and two together and realize that the food I was eating was contributing to my quick decline in health. I started studying up on nutrition and “clean eating”. I transitioned to a much more holistic lifestyle, cutting out toxins from all areas of my life. I started by buying organic produce if it was on the dirty dozen list. Now I prefer to buy everything local, organic, and in season when possible. When I began eating a paleo diet I learned the importance of organic meat. I had been buying organic produce and putting meat on the back burner, but I learned that grass-fed, organic meat is very important, especially for people trying to cut down on inflammation.

 

CFSA: Why are you a member of CFSA?

I think it is vital to support our local organic farmers. Without them,  fresh, organic food would not be as easily accessible. My husband’s family has been farming in South Carolina for years and wouldn’t have been successful without the support of the community. One day I hope to have a small homestead of my own and I like knowing there is an amazing support system in place at CFSA.

 


Join Lauren in becoming a CFSA member. Together we’re working toward a vibrant, sustainable food system in the Carolinas! Join CFSA today!

 

CFSA: Tell me about your ‘aha moment’ when you realized that eating organic foods was an important choice for you and your family.

My health had hit an all-time low. My body was chronically inflamed and I was struggling to get through each day. We were also wanting to start a family and I realized that something had to change. I had a lot of knowledge regarding food and nutrition but I wasn’t applying it to my everyday life. I realized that with every bite I was either feeding disease or fighting it. It was like a switch went off in my head. I started eating a very nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory diet full of organic veggies, organic meats, grass-fed beef liver, bone broth, and healthy fats. The change was like night and day. My health took a 180; I felt so alive and like I was thriving.

 

CFSA: Tell us a little about how being pregnant and breastfeeding your baby changed your thinking about what is safe and healthy to put in our bodies.

Before I got pregnant with my son I started priming my body to give him the best start to life that I could. I avoided inflammatory foods and ate nutrient dense, organic meats and veggies. I thought it was amazing and so crazy to look at my pregnancy app and see how quickly my baby was growing each week. My body was providing this little pea with everything he needed to grow! That was a big motivator to be careful of what foods I ate. Breastfeeding has been an amazing journey and I’m so grateful that I’m able to nourish my baby in this way. I find it incredible how little we actually know about breastmilk though. I can tell a difference in my son’s overall mood and sleep habits when I eat certain foods. Especially food containing dyes, excessive sugar, preservatives or other yuck ingredients. It has definitely helped me stick to my own goals of eating healthy by seeing the negative effects he experiences when I slip up.

 

CFSA: Your son is just starting to eat solid foods. What does he like so far?

We are giving him super nutrient dense, gut healthy foods, cooked how we would eat them instead of mushed up like purees. So far he has had chicken bone broth, avocado, sweet potato and egg yolk. He really loves the sweet potato and egg yolk! He loves drinking from a cup so broth has been a big hit because of that. Avocado he doesn’t seem to be a huge fan of, I think it’s the texture. I plan on only feeding him organic, non-processed, nutrient dense foods for quite a while.

 

CFSA: The food and farming community in Columbia is really taking off and now there is a new fresh-from-the-farm delivery service – perfect for moms! Tell us about it.

I just found out about this local farm that delivers and I am so excited about it! Leesville Aquaponics Homestead will deliver for free on any orders over $20. This is a great option for families with young one especially, or the elderly! I am expecting my first order this week. I ordered a little bit of all the veggies they have available, some eggs and a rabbit. I’ve never cooked or even eaten rabbit before so I’m excited to try something new. A friend of mine recommended this farm when I was asking where to buy eggs from pastured chickens fed soy free feed. I love the farmer’s market but I’m not able to make it out there that often with a little one. My plan is to order from this farm each week and hit up the farmer’s market about once a month to stock up on my other meats.

 

Lauren's-garden

CFSA: You are an avid organic gardener. When did you first start gardening and what got you interested in organic gardening?

I love gardening! I’m not really that great at it, but that’s not what matters to me. I like getting out in the sun and dirt each day and putting my time and energy into something that gives back. My first garden was in a pallet with dollar store soil and seeds. Needless to say, not much grew. But with some guidance from my best friend, I learned enough about organic gardening to get a nice little garden started. My husband built me a 4×10 raised bed and my father in law built me a big ole barrel composter. It’s been a learning experience and each year I learn a little more. It’s been mainly a hobby but I am hoping to produce enough veggies this year to offset our grocery bill a bit. I’ve heard the quote, “Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes,” and it’s so true! I’m so excited to teach my son about gardening and have him out there helping me pick veggies!

 

CFSA: As a mom myself, I know what a challenge it can be to put food on the table every night. What’s your go-to organic dinner ?

I love soups for those days when I’ve waited until the last minute to throw something together. We always have some homemade bone broth in the freezer so I’ll throw that, some meat and fresh veggies all together and let it do its thing. Sometimes I’ll do chicken broth, chicken, carrots, celery, and onion. Or I’ll go with a heartier soup with beef broth, ground beef or stew meat, potatoes, and carrots. But you can really throw in whatever you have fresh at the moment. Also kale or spinach, those bulk up the soup and add a little bit of green in. During the summer I’ll just go pick some lettuce out of the garden for a super fresh salad also.

 

CFSA: Would you share a recipe?

My chicken soup is a go to in our house for sick days, freezer meals, or anytime we need an easy meal. It’s easily prepped the night before and just throw it in a pot or crockpot the next day.

 

1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 cups carrots, chopped

1 medium yellow onion, diced

3 stalks celery, chopped

4-5 cloves garlic, minced (or more, I don’t think you can overdo the garlic)

3 Tbsp EVOO

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

6 cups chicken broth (homemade is best)

1 cup water

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)

A bunch of spinach or kale

 

Put all ingredients in a 6 quart crockpot and cook on low 6-7 hours. Remove chicken and cut into bite size pieces or shred. Put the chicken back in the pot and add the spinach or kale. Cook for another 5-10 minutes or until the greens have wilted.

 

CFSA: Dreams for the future?

I grew up wishing I could live on a farm. I still do. My dream would be to move to the country and have a little self-sustaining homestead. I’d have a huge garden, free range chickens, a pig (for fun not to eat), a goat for the milk, some rabbits, and a few grass fed cows. I would love to have a large family. I’d have all my children outside each day, learning about life through nature. Who knows, maybe that will happen one day. But if it doesn’t I will still teach my son how to garden, care for whatever animals we may acquire and hope that he grows up with a passion for organic, holistic living like his mama. I would be thrilled if he grew up to be a farmer. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit. My husband grew up in the country, feeding cows and taking care of turkeys. He has a work ethic like a farmer. Rain or shine, he’s always the first one to roll up his sleeves and get the job done and get it done right. I would be proud for my son to turn out the same.

 

CFSA: Anything else you’d like to share with the good food and farming community in the Carolinas?

It is my passion to spread awareness of the chemicals that we put in our bodies and my hope that we can arm the next generation with the knowledge to make healthy decisions for themselves and our planet. With this knowledge we can have happier and healthier children. I’ve put my passion to work in planning this year’s Children’s March for Humanity in Columbia, SC. Our goal is to ignite desire in the hearts of the masses to yearn for more information on topics such as glyphosate, GMOs, and various chemicals. Through inquiry grounded in love, respect, and empathy, our goal is to tear down the defensive walls which: divide, hinder sparked curiosity, and discourage the masses from seeking the truth. The main march will take place in Washington, D.C. and we will be rallying at the South Carolina State House on June 17, 2017 10am-2pm.

Please visit https://childrensmarchforhumanity.com/columbia%2C-sc for more information and to get involved.

 

Lauren Small is a work-at-home mama to a precious little chunk of a baby. Her passions include babywearing, breastfeeding, studying holistic health, gardening, long baths, and fair trade chocolate. Check out her all natural and organic oil cleansers at www.mindyourownskincare.com.

by Stephanie Campbell, CFSA’s Outreach Coordinator 

Ashley, Jarrett and baby Tyler.

Ashley, Jarrett and baby Kayleigh Tyler.

 

Jarrett Tyler grew up on Tyler Farms, the fifth generation on this land in Galivants Ferry, South Carolina. He and his twin sister, Whitley, loved being immersed in the family farm and life in this small community on the Pee Dee River just inland from Myrtle Beach. Jarrett spent summers working with his dad, Greg Tyler, in the fields. “What do I love best about farming?” Jarrett considers. “I enjoy being outdoors, the satisfaction of watching something grow, working as a family, and accomplishing something important.”

 

Handing down the farm from one generation to the next seems as American as apple pie. The younger generation has the advantage of learning how to farm seemingly by osmosis through years growing up on the farm and learning alongside the wise elders. There is a deep tie to and love for land which has been in the family for generations.

The average age of farmers nationally is 58.3 years old and fewer than 30 percent of farmers have identified a successor.

 

Current data, however, paints a different picture. In the mid-twentieth century 1 out of 3 Americans grew up on a farm. In 2016 less than 2% of the population farmed for a living. The Carolinas have lost almost a million and a half acres of farmland since mid-1990. The average age of farmers nationally is 58.3 years old and fewer than 30 percent of farmers have identified a successor.

 

Tyler Farms almost became one of those statistics. Greg and Jarrett’s story highlights some of the barriers which must be overcome and how CFSA is working to ensure that farmers have the training, resources and support they need to farm in new markets.

 


Give to CFSA to help us grow the next generation of organic farmers!

 


 

After high school Jarrett tried some off-farm work. His dad, Greg, quit farming tobacco in 2004 because he could no longer make a living at it. Tyler Farms seemed destined to join the statistics of failed family farms and lost farmland in the Carolinas. Jarrett, however, missed farming and convinced his dad to try again together. “I knew where my heart was and I just had to get Dad back into farming,” says Jarrett.

 

Jarrett-on-a-tractor

Jarrett with a load of transplants ready to go in the field. 

 

They grew peanuts in 2012, tobacco and peanuts in 2013, and then began growing organic tobacco for Santa Fe Natural Tobacco in 2015. To grow tobacco organically, a farmer has to rotate the tobacco crop, which takes a heavy toll on the land, with another organic crop.

 

Jarrett knew that the market for organic vegetables is expanding and he wanted to try to grow them. His vegetable business, Sandy Hill Organics, is the only USDA certified organic vegetable producer in the county. “We have generations of conventional farming friends in the area,” Greg says, “and they all think we are crazy.”

 

Organic broccoli fields at Tyler Farm.

Organic broccoli fields at Tyler Farm.

 

Jarrett and Greg began growing organic broccoli and cabbage. They quickly learned that in order to sell into wholesale markets, they needed to become certified in Good Agriculture Practices (GAP)/Good Handling Practice (GHP). GAP/GHP certification are buyer-driven, voluntary audits that verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored as safely as possible to minimize risks of microbial food hazards, positioning small growers to compete with mainstream supply chains. Greg heard about a workshop being offered by CFSA at Greenbrier Farm in Greenville, SC, in November 2016.

 

“The GAP workshop and then the individualized on-farm consulting from CFSA was a lifesaver!” said Greg. Greg and Jarrett worked to thoroughly review and standardize all of their food handling practices and were successfully GAP certified in December 2016. They agree that, “Vegetable handling is so much more complicated than tobacco. We could not have passed our audit without this professional help from CFSA.”

 

Jarrett-and-crew-in-the-fields_web

 

Growing vegetables is one part of the business of farming, but finding good markets is another important piece. CFSA introduced Greg and Jarrett to GrowFood Carolina, a regional food hub which aggregates, markets and distributes source-identified food from local farmers to wholesale, retail and institutional markets. GrowFood provides local farmers the sales, marketing, logistics, warehousing and distribution functions they need that have previously been available only to large-scale industrial farms. CFSA helped the Coastal Conservation League launch GrowFood in 2011 and since its opening GrowFood has returned over $3 million to South Carolina farmers.

 

Jarrett’s farming business, Sandy Hill Organics, grows on about 6 acres now and his goal is to grow more varieties of vegetables on 20-30 acres in coming years. He has ideas about accessing the Farmers Markets nearby in Myrtle Beach and possibly selling on-farm someday.  “It means a lot to me that my Dad feels comfortable turning the farm over to me,” says Jarrett. Greg echoes that, saying, “I always hoped Jarrett would be able to take over the farm and … carry on the tradition and care for the land.”

 

Jarrett’s wife, Ashley, had never farmed but now it is “all she wants to do” says Jarrett. “She helps with all the paperwork of the farm and hopefully, she can join the business full-time someday.”  Jarrett and Ashley are new parents with a four month old daughter, Kayleigh, and they look forward to giving her a farming childhood and life. “Ashley and I live on the farm, my sister lives next door to Daddy across the street, and other family members live nearby. It’s the life we love,” says Jarrett.

 

“Organic farming is not easy,” says Jarrett, “but we hope it will provide us with a living.” He circles back around and emphasizes again what he loves about farming, “I love watching things grow; it makes you feel good, like you’ve done something important. We’re feeding America.”

by Stephanie Campbell, CFSA’s Outreach Coordinatorgive-swamp-rabbit-eoy-2016

Consumers (a.k.a. “eaters”) often share that they are confused by labels and terms like natural, cage-free, or grass-fed. They ask how their produce, dairy and meat was grown or raised.  And they want their food dollars to support local farmers and producers and their local community.

Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery, in Greenville, SC, is filling the gap in the food chain between eaters and farmers who share common values: local, sustainable, organic, healthy, humane, and community.

Imagine a community gathering place where virtually all of the products are grown or produced within 150 miles. A place where the owners know by name and face the over 200 farmers and vendors. A place where farmers and producers and eaters are neighbors and friends. A place that in five short years is transforming the community and sparking a food revolution.

Mary Walsh and Jacqueline Oliver, co-founders and owners of Swamp Rabbit, imagined such a place and had the grit to make it a reality. It’s not easy to manage up to twenty different deliveries each day, and the individualized billing that goes along with these, instead of one big general food truck. It’s not easy managing several thousand unique products and providing signage so that customers can know which farmer or artisan grew or produced it. It’s not easy competing with the convenience, discount prices, and always-available products of the big box stores.

Mary and Jacqueline have often worked eighty-hour weeks with their children in tow because they believe in their mission and in the intangible benefits of bringing a community together around food. “We have been delightfully surprised,” says Mary, “at the scale of which the community has supported us and how loyal our customers are.”

Mary shares stories of customers volunteering to help during their events and expansion, customers donating furniture and bike racks and other items, customers who stick with them through the growing pains of a small, local business.

swamp-rabbit-store-photo-web

Swamp Rabbit is more than just a store; it is a force for building relationships and educating people about food. Customers have learned what seasonal eating really means when there are no local eggs available because the chickens are molting. Customers experience along with their farmer the heartache when a predator ate a whole flock of Thanksgiving turkeys. Customers learn what it really costs a farmer to produce a product using the organic and sustainable practices they value.

“CFSA has built a network of resources and people in the Carolinas committed to a shared vision which has been invaluable to us,” Mary shares.

Stephen Nix, CFSA South Carolina Food Systems Coordinator, has been one of those customers and friends since the very beginning of the store. His roles as friend (building and stocking shelves when the store opened) and as CFSA staff (researching Point of Sale (POS) systems and providing marketing connections) have overlapped, like that of so many others in the Swamp Rabbit community. “CFSA has built a network of resources and people in the Carolinas committed to a shared vision which has been invaluable to us,” Mary shares.

Now beginning its sixth year, the store employs thirty-one people in the bakery, café, and grocery and serves more than 20,000 customers. Swamp Rabbit has helped revitalize the immediate area along the Swamp Rabbit Trail and the store is inspiring other businesses to adopt a local food mindset. The Greenville Small Business Development Center awarded Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery their Small Business of the Year Award in 2016. EBT/SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) sales are increasing as they intentionally reach out to make healthy food available to the low income neighborhood around them.

The store has expanded twice already, once to add a refrigerated produce room and then to add overflow seating and a bakery kitchen. A big expansion planned for 2017, partially funded by a $100,000 grant from the USDA, will double the store in size and increase the capacity to buy, store, process, promote and sell foods in the Upstate.

Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery is a model of the kind of links in the food system we need more of in the Carolinas.

Visionaries like Mary Walsh and Jacqueline Oliver can’t do it without you.
Your gift today help CFSA continue to build the network necessary to create the vibrant, sustainable, regional food system we need in the Carolinas.

give-today-button

Please give generously.