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November 24, 2008

CEFS hosts meetings on local food economies

What will it take to build a sustainable, local food economy in North Carolina, where local growers have access to local markets for their products? Consumers in Greenville, Winston-Salem and the Charlotte area will have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the subject at three upcoming regional meetings, sponsored by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems.

Efforts to build a local food economy can include new farmer’s markets, local food policy councils, comprehensive county or region-based food initiatives, farm incubator programs, farm and/or garden youth education programs, health and nutrition projects focused on local sustainable foods, procurement initiatives by large retail and institutional buyers and schools.

The upcoming meetings will be held in the following locations:
Charlotte area: Dec. 8, 1:30-4:30 p.m., Cabarrus Arena and Event Center, 4751 Highway 49 North, Concord, NC 28025. Directions: www.cabarrusarena.com/pages/Direction.html.

Winston-Salem: Dec. 10, 5:30-8:30 p.m. SciWorks. 400 W Hanes Mill Rd, Winston Salem, (336) 767-6734. Directions: www.sciworks.org/SciInfoDirections.html.

Greenville: Dec.15, 1:30-4:30 p.m., St. Timothy’s, 107 Louis St., Greenville.

Over the next year, CEFS and its partners will gather information from across the state’s food system sectors, conducting regional meetings, targeted working issues groups, interviews and hosting a statewide summit on March 2 and 3. The goal of this initiative is to develop a Statewide Action Plan for Building the Local Food Economy.

The plan will include specific steps -- short- and long-term -- that policy makers, universities, government agencies, environmental organizations, businesses, funding agencies, social activists, NGOs and citizens can take to make local food economies possible. Regional meetings have already been held in Raleigh, Asheville and Burgaw.

“If each North Carolinian spent 55 cents a day on local food -- just 5 percent of the $4,010 that we spend on average on food consumption per year -- it would mean $1.7 billion for the state’s economy,” said Nancy Creamer, CEFS director, based at N.C. State University. “That money circulates here in the state, so has a multiplier effect, rather than going to a corporate headquarters in another state.”

Other benefits of a sustainable, local food economy in North Carolina include economic development, job creation within farming and food sectors, preservation of open space, decreased use of fossil fuel and associated carbon emissions, preservation and protection of the natural environment, increased consumer access to fresh and nutritious foods, and greater food security for all North Carolinians.

Please contact Amber Polk, amber_polk@ncsu.edu, to respond for attending a regional meeting, as these meetings have been filling up, and to be added to a listserv. Check the local foods initiative Web site -- www.cefsfarmtofork.com -- for updates. For more information about the initiative, contact nancy_creamer@ncsu.edu.

The Center for Environmental Farming Systems, based in Goldsboro, is a partnership of N.C. State University, N.C. A&T State University and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Internationally recognized, CEFS provides research, teaching and outreach on sustainable agriculture.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at November 24, 2008 09:44 AM