Sunday, June 20, 2010

cabarrus county, north carolina :: creating a local food system

These are just the highlights from a pretty good article about my community's attempt to create a local food system. I emphasize the key components near the end. I'll be writing more about this in the future.

From Emily Ford at the Salisbury Post,

CONCORD — In a bold attempt to reconnect people who eat food with people who grow it, Cabarrus County has launched several agriculture programs, including plans to build the state's first publicly owned slaughter facility.

Cabarrus leads the state in establishing a local food economy, officials say.

"They are certainly a role model for North Carolina," said Dr. Nancy Creamer, N.C. State University horticulture professor and director of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems.

Three years ago, Cabarrus began implementing a strategy to build a local food system. That's an economy that includes all the processes involved in feeding people — growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, distributing, marketing, consuming, disposing and recycling.

County Manager John Day and County Extension Director Debbie Bost are spearheading the effort, with support from county commissioners.

"We want to build an economy here that doesn't go away on the whim of a CEO," said Aaron Newton, recently hired as the county's first local food program coordinator.

A local food economy aims to create new income opportunities for farmers and promote sustainable agriculture practices that can be used year after year, generation after generation.

People are too far removed from their food, said Newton, co-author of "A Nation of Farmers."

"The overall goal is to develop a more resilient, self-reliant economy in the county," Day said, "one that is not subject to the sorts of global disruptions that we've seen recently."

Day and Bost mapped out the county's local food strategy in 2007 after Day heard an official touting the local food system in Madison, Wisc.

The county hosted a town hall meeting for farmers and food producers. More than 200 people came, including all five county commissioners, to discuss preserving agriculture.

Bost wrote a concept paper and submitted it to county commissioners, who embraced her five-pronged strategy:

- The top recommendation from farmers to the county: build a local slaughterhouse, or "harvesting facility," as Bost calls it.

- At the incubator farm, participants pay a small fee to lease one acre of land and learn everything from planting to business planning.

- The Food Policy Council will identify and develop ways to bolster the local food economy, pulling together technical and financial resources. The council will deal with issues as broad as hunger, public health and the environment.

- [A] county food assessment, a yearlong effort costing about $30,000, will determine what local food people eat and where they buy it. The county will survey institutions and households.

- A marketing strategy will promote local foods and products. Restaurants that use local ingredients will have a special designation. The county will approach schools, hospitals, even jails about using local foods.

Read the entire article…


Anonymous said...

It's interesting that 40 people applied for the Food Council. How many folks are on it? The Baldwin Beef folks near Burlington use a private Halal processor. Why the need for a government-owned processor? Best wishes!

nulinegvgv said...

The Food Policy Council has 21 members and 2 alternates. They serve 1, 2 or 3 year terms.

Because of funding requiremnets the actual facility will be owned intitially by the county who will contract with the Cruse family to operate it. Over time it's likely that the Cruse family will make annual payments and eventually own the facility outright.

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