In 2007, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) and its many partners sought to ask — and answer — the question:
Can we build a sustainable local food economy, from farm to fork? Through the enthusiastic support of thousands of North Carolinians and hundreds of local, regional and statewide organizations, the clear answer is: YES!
For a big-picture perspective, review CEFS' From Farm to Fork: Building North Carolina's Local Sustainable Food Economy. This statewide action guide identifies goals and the strategies needed to move North Carolina forward.
The 10% Campaign is one way you can support this statewide initiative!
The CEFS website is a great starting point for learning more. CEFS has a comprehensive directory of local foods activities throughout the state. You'll also find a how-to guide for setting up a company-based multifarm CSA, find a research-based organic production manual, find resources for pasture-based meat production through NC Choices, learn about efforts to bring more local foods in mainstream markets through the NC Growing Together project, or learn more about what we do here.
North Carolina Cooperative Extension (NCCES) has been providing university-based consumer education, information and research to the public since the early 1900s. It's a great resource for a variety of topics, including:
Growing Small Farms: An extensive resource for farmers and gardeners alike, this website offers information for producers and consumers, including a comprehensive "Buy Local Guide" and useful information on many things from plant disease to organic pest management.
An NCSU program, NC Market Ready is part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Cooperative Extension. Farmers and retailers can find important food safety information on its website. The site also features "The Produce Lady," food expert Brenda Sutton, with useful videos, a blog and recipes on how to cook, prepare and preserve some of North Carolina's best produce.
Food safety, nutritional information and an entire spectrum of health and human development topics are found through NCCES' Family and Consumer Sciences website.
Eat Smart Move More: A great source for healthy lifestyle information geared to educate North Carolinians on eating smarter and active living.
The University of North Carolina's Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention: Addresses pressing food-related health problems like obesity and diabetes, and connects solutions to local food systems.
North Carolina boasts nine local conviviums (chapters) of Slow Food USA, supporting "good, clean and fair food." Many of the state's Slow Food chapters have local food events and offer directories to restaurants that feature locally sourced food.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services' Physical Activity and Nutrition (PAN) Branch: PAN works statewide to promote increased opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating through policy and environmental change.
Want to start a community garden or find one in your area? North Carolina Community Gardens has just what you're looking for.
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) website provides many important resources relevant to local foods. Check here for statewide agriculture statistics, consumer programs and guides.
Visit Southeastern North Carolina Food Systems Project, a leader in the local food movement for the southeastern part of the state. Look for information on its food policy council, local foods assessment and local food sourcing guides.
Are you interested in specific North Carolina commodities? Find strawberries, sweet potatoes and more on this NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Commodities Leaders Directory.
Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP): Western North Carolina's "go-to" organization for finding local food and connecting with the farmers who grow it and the markets, grocers, and restaurants committed to using locally grown products. ASAP is also the organization behind Appalachian Grown™, a certification program for farm products grown or raised in Western North Carolina and the Southern Appalachian mountains.
The North Carolina Office of Environmental Education is a wonderful resource for statewide environmental education. The office serves preK-12 schools, colleges and universities, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and more. It has an online searchable directory and also highlights local foods projects and organizations in its environmental education network.
North Carolina Sea Grant is a university collaborative, nonprofit organization focused on research, education and outreach opportunities relating to current issues affecting the North Carolina coast and its communities, including local seafood market development and fisheries resources.
The Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI–USA) is active in policy development around sustainable agriculture issues, including labeling and contract reform. Its Come to the Table project explores the connections between food security, faith and farms. Read its new publication, Come to the Table: How People of Faith Can Relieve Hunger and Sustain Local Farms in North Carolina, for more information on faith-based food and health initiatives in North Carolina.
Check out Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) for annual farm tours, to receive sustainable agriculture policy alerts, and to find a local food directory and links to area farms. CFSA hosts an annual sustainable agriculture conference that is open to the public.
Learn about how to save money and still eat healthy, local food at Cook for Good.
Many or our other partner organizations have wonderful resources available relevant to building a local food economy. Check out their websites through links to our partners page.