September 2014
In This Issue
CEFS' 20th Anniversary Special Events: SOILbration and Reunion!
Thank You Sponsors
CEFS Offering "Pasture to Process" Programs for NC Meat Producers
"CONNECT Our Future" Food Systems Project
Save the Date: NC Choices' Women Working in the Meat Business Retreat, Nov 9-11
George Teague and Reedy Fork Dairy Farm: An Organic Legacy
NC Growing Together Support Helps Small Farmers Achieve GAPs Certification
Board Member Spotlight: Anya Gordon
NC State's Agroecology Farm is Growing!

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CEFS Turns 20!

CEFS is celebrating its twentieth anniversary in 2014! Visit our website to learn more about our history, read the stories of people who have been impacted by CEFS' programs and research, and learn about how you can support our work.

CEFS' 20th Anniversary logo

Please Join Us for CEFS' 20th Anniversary Special Events

Friday October 17:
A day-long educational event at CEFS' Research Farm in Goldsboro. Featuring speakers including Ray Archuleta and Steve Woodruff of Natural Resource Conservation Service, Fred Kirschenmann of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, exciting in-field demonstrations, farm tours, lunch and more!

Saturday October 18:

CEFS Talks: Reflections from CEFS Alumni, featuring "TED-style" lectures from sustainable agriculture champions, all of whom are CEFS alumni, and a Keynote Address by Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. And then, a CEFS reunion celebration! All past and present interns, apprentices, staff, faculty, graduate students, friends and supporters are invited. On NC State Campus.

Support CEFS by becoming a sponsor of the 20th Anniversary SOILbration and Lectures.

For more information about these events please contact Lisa Forehand, CEFS Extension and Outreach, at 919-513-0954 or
Thank You to our 20th Anniversary SOILbration and Special Events Sponsors!

Sustaining Sponsors

Amy's Kitchen logo

Soil Renaissance Logo

Supporting Sponsor

Nash Produce

Steward Sponsor
Mt. Olive Pickle Co.

Guardian Sponsors

Goldsboro Wayne Co. Travel & Tourism

NC Blueberry Council, Inc.

NC Dairy Producers Association

Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation

CEFS Offering "Pasture to Process" Programs for NC Meat Producers

Golden Leaf Foundation is helping CEFS provide "Pasture to Process" programs for meat producers in North Carolina.  The Foundation awarded CEFS two years of funding (2014-2015) to "enhance economic viability across local niche meat supply chains."  The funding will allow greater integration of two CEFS programs: Amazing Grazing, a pasture-based livestock educational initiative, and NC Choices, an initiative that advances local meat supply chains through networking opportunities, educational programming and technical assistance.   

Together, the programs will offer meat producers support and resources at every step from pasture management through the processing and marketing of their final product.  "It's a natural fit," says NC Choices Coordinator Sarah Blacklin.  "This grant allows us to be intentional and targeted with our efforts.  By collaborating across the supply chain these producers are connected to processors, buyers and key stakeholders to help resource and advance their business needs." 

Many beef producers in North Carolina manage "cow/calf" operations, meaning that they breed and raise the cattle in NC and then send them out-of-state for finishing, slaughter and processing.  However, the growing market for niche meats in the state has some producers considering finishing and selling their cattle here.  "More and more [meat] producers who don't typically finish and sell their meat here in North Carolina are experimenting with niche meats.  Our job is to help inform their decision-making process by making resources readily available to them," says Blacklin. 

"It is exciting to see the niche meats community embrace an ecological approach to managing their pasture feed resource," says Matt Poore, Coordinator of CEFS' Pasture-Based Beef Unit and Director of Amazing Grazing.   "Joining forces with NC Choices will help us teach producers to raise high quality meat in a pasture-based environment." 

"CONNECT Our Future" Food Systems Project


In 2013, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA), and Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) partnered with the Centralina Council of Governments and the Catawba Regional Council of Governments to support "CONNECT Our Future", a three-year initiative funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program. 

The "CONNECT Our Future" project aims to promote regional economic development, including the local and regional food system, in order to grow jobs, strengthen the economy, and improve quality of life in the Charlotte region. Our collaborative team has been working on the food portion of this large, over-arching planning initiative.

Over 2013 and 2014, CEFS, CFSA, and ASAP have been working collaboratively with community members, public and private partners, and non-profit organizations to conduct a regional food system assessment, develop an action plan for food system work, and to foster the development of food policy councils in the Charlotte region. The collaborative team has been engaging communities across a 14-county bi-state region including Anson, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Stanly, and Union counties in North Carolina; Chester, Lancaster, Union, and York counties in South Carolina; and the Catawba Indian Nation.

While the "CONNECT Our Future" Food Systems Project officially ended July 1, 2014, CEFS will continue to support Food Council formation and development through its new Community Food Strategies initiative.

Learn more! Read the "CONNECT Our Future" Food System Assessment Report (or the Executive Summary) and Action Plan for Food Systems Improvement.

Save the Date!
NC Choices' Women Working in the Meat Business Retreat, 
Nov 9-11

Women In Meat Retreat 2014  

Join 30 women livestock farmers, butchers, processors, chefs, and professionals for two days and nights of hands-on learning with lead instructor and James Beard Award nominee Kari Underly, a third generation meat cutter and inventor of the flat iron steak.  The retreat will be held in Chapel Hill, NC and is presented by NC Choices with support from NC Growing Together, Southern Risk Management and Education Center, Farm Credit Association of NC and partnering organizations.

Participants will be trained in hands-on whole pork and beef butchery and leave with increased confidence in determining pricing and gross margins, measuring yields, improving knife skills, and learning how to make a cut sheet and processing options work for their business.

For the first time ever, NC Choices is teaming up with Amazing Grazing's Leadership in Cattle Handling for Female Producers workshop, November 8 at the NCSU Butner Beef Cattle Field Laboratory.   It will be a packed educational weekend for women meat producers and professionals!

Further details and registration information will be available soon at

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Message from the Director

John O'Sullivan at farmDear Colleagues, Friends, and Supporters of CEFS,

At the end of July, I retired after 31 years with the Cooperative Extension Program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. It is amazing and inspiring to reflect back on how far we have come as a community and as a state in all those years. In the late 1980's, when we first began to voice our concerns about the social, environmental and economic sustainability of our food system, we were like mice travelling in a herd of elephants.

Now, those concerns are mainstream.  Indeed, new questions and concerns have arisen and impel us forward in our work. New partners have joined the conversation, and the conversation itself has broadened - from production and distribution to health and health care, food access and food equity. Food and agriculture are now properly understood to be inseparable from culture, access, justice, and health issues. This is as true across the globe as it is as here locally in North Carolina.

CEFS has become a "backbone" organization: convening, supporting, and facilitating the many statewide partners whose work, separately and together, has allowed us to reach this point of reflection.

I have enjoyed my tenure as Co-Director of CEFS; it has been a wonderful and enriching experience. I'm very proud of the work we all have done, and I'm grateful for the wisdom and experience that grounding our effort in Goldsboro, NC has given us.

I look forward to seeing many of you, including CEFS supporters from around the country, during our 20th Anniversary special events on October 17 and 18. I'll be visiting Uruguay next spring with a Fulbright Award to research increasing interest in local foods and to nurture the connection between CEFS/North Carolina and our colleagues and partners in Uruguay. And I will continue to live in Chapel Hill. I have community garden work to do, and many conversations still to engage and be engaged in pertaining to local foods, food equity, and food access.

All in all, yesterday, today and tomorrow, thank you for the honor of having been part of the CEFS Team!

With love and hope for multitudes of blessings for all,

John O'Sullivan Signature 
Dr. John M. O'Sullivan
Director Emeritus, CEFS

George Teague and Reedy Fork Dairy Farm: An Organic Legacy

George Teague at home on the farm. Photo: JJ Richardson/CEFS


As part of our 20th anniversary, we are reflecting on the impact that CEFS has made on the state of North Carolina and beyond.  This is the second in a series of stories exploring that impact.


George Teague's Reedy Fork Organic Farm sits on 500 acres of rolling pastures and woodlands outside of Elon, in Guilford County. George is the fifth generation of his family to work this land, which was in tobacco production until his father decided to turn it into a dairy in the 1950's. The dairy supported the family for several decades, until changes in agriculture brought hard times. Confronting escalating input costs and declining milk prices, the Teague family faced an uncertain future. Explains George, "I looked into every different thing to keep this farm going. The advice [to dairy producers] at the time was 'get bigger or get out.' I wasn't interested in milking five to six hundred cows, and we didn't want to develop [the land]. Organic was the best fit for us."

It was on a Farm Tour organized by CEFS' Pasture-Based Dairy Unit Coordinator Dr. Steve Washburn that George decided to go organic. "We were on a Dairy Farm Tour up to Pennsylvania and Maryland, and we visited five organic dairy farms. Four of the five farms had their kids coming back to farm or already back. That was a sign of the future: people can tell you anything, but if their kids are working on the farm [you know it's profitable]. That tour changed everything, it really did. I came back gung-ho ready to go organic."

Once the farm was certified organic in 2007, the family realized that to make their system work economically, they needed to mill their own organic grains. Armed with various loans and grants, they built an organic grain mill right across the road from the house that George's great-great-grandfather had built. Now they sell 100 tons a month of mostly North Carolina-grown milled grains to local dairy farmers, backyard and small-scale farmers - even pet stores - across North Carolina and as far away as Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. "We've benefitted from CEFS' Organic Grains work as well," explains George. Dr. Chris Reberg-Horton, CEFS Assistant Director of Collaborative Research, directs the NC State Organic Grain Project, which works with farmers to increase organic grain production throughout the state. Increased supplies of North Carolina-grown organic grain means that George imports less and less grain from other states. 

Reedy Fork's cows on pasture. Photo: Reedy Fork Organic Farm.

George has also been involved in various research projects at CEFS' Pasture- Based Dairy Unit. Reedy Fork Organic Farm is helping to pilot test the "CowVac," a vacuum-powered walk-through fly-trap that removes harmful horn flies from cattle as they pass through. They've had it for two seasons, and George says it's "working well." Developed at the Dairy Unit, the CowVac is now marketed commercially and is also used by conventional dairy producers to reduce pesticide use on their farms. The Teagues will also be involved in testing a portable irrigation system that the Dairy Unit is developing to help cool cows on pasture. "CEFS is the only place doing this kind of work. There's not anybody else in our climate and region doing research for us."


These days, George manages a herd of 100 cows, which spend their days grazing on intensively-managed pasture. George says he learned a lot about managing the pastures from CEFS' workshops and pasture walks. "It was a huge learning curve," he admits. Despite the big learning curve, there is no doubt in George's mind that the changes have been for the better. While in the past George says that he practically chased the younger generations of his family away from the farm, his farm now employs five people in addition to George and his wife, including George's son and nephew. And if George has his way, his family will continue at Reedy Fork for generations to come. It is a legacy he has fought hard to preserve.


Read more CEFS Impact Profiles on our 20th Anniversary Homepage.

NC Growing Together Support Helps Small Farmers Achieve GAPs Certification

Corrected NCGT logo

NC Growing Together (NCGT), a CEFS-led initiative working to bring more locally-grown foods into mainstream retail and food service supply chains, is partnering with NC State University, NC Cooperative Extension, and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) to provide intensive, hands-on technical support to enable small-scale farmers to achieve Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) certification of their farms.

The USDA-developed GAPs certification system focuses on best practices to minimize microbial contamination risks in the produce supply chain. Although not mandatory for all growers, it has become the industry standard to sell into many larger markets, including most food distributors and retail stores. However, GAPs certification poses a challenge to many small farmers who are daunted by its paperwork requirements and costs.

The full day, two-part workshops include classroom and on-farm instruction on how to minimize on-farm produce contamination risks, as well as direct assistance in completing the food safety plan required for GAPs certification.

Patricia Tripp, who wears two hats as NCGT's Wholesaler Liaison and CFSA's Produce Safety Coordinator, conducts the trainings. "It is gratifying to be able to provide the growers with hands-on support, walking them through every step of the process [of GAPs certification]," she says. There are also cost-share funds available through CFSA to help cover the costs of the certification.

Vince Evans
Vince Evans of Evans Family Farm.
Two farmers who recently achieved GAPs certification with NCGT support are Vince Evans and Ed Spence, both of whom farm in the Fayetteville area. With Ms. Tripp's assistance, both farms passed their GAPs audits and are now ready to begin selling their produce to NCGT partner distributor Foster-Caviness, a contract vendor for NCGT partner Fort Bragg.

"I just don't think I would have followed through had it not been for Patricia," said Mr. Evans. "Showing you what the value would be, then taking the time and explaining how the process works" made all the difference for his farm. "We're getting crops ready now to push to open other markets", he says.

The next GAPs certification workshop series will be September 3 and 8 in Pender County. For more information on future workshops and available resources, including cost-share opportunities, please visit CFSA's website or contact Patricia Tripp at
Board Member Spotlight: Anya Gordon


Anya and Arthur Gordon at the Farm to Fork picnic.
Anya Gordon, co-owner of Raleigh's Irregardless Café and Catering with her husband Arthur Gordon, has been on the CEFS board since 2010.  Opened in 1975, The Irregardless Café was Raleigh's first vegetarian restaurant.  The restaurant now serves vegetarians, vegans, and carnivores alike.

Anya has held nearly every position in the restaurant including hostess and cashier.  In 2001, she founded the catering side of the business as a way to survive the economic recession.  "It now accounts for one-quarter of our business," she notes proudly. 

While managing the catering business, Anya became introduced to CEFS after the restaurant was hired to cater several CEFS events.  She was impressed with the organization's work and quickly agreed to join the board.  "CEFS is a national and international leader in sustainable agriculture and community food systems," she says.  "We are very proud to be associated with CEFS and happy to support CEFS in any way we can."

Originally from Canada, Anya grew up in a family that valued home-cooked meals.  "My parents were from Europe - they had a different culture.  My mother cooked most of the day [for the family].  I have an old-world connection to food," she says. 

When raising her own sons, who are now in their thirties, Anya gardened extensively.  Now she and Arthur have founded the Well Fed Community Garden, a 1 ˝ acre garden just a few miles from the restaurant.  The produce feeds the restaurant and catering business, and is also donated back to the community.  The garden was inspired in part by Arthur's volunteer farm work at CEFS' Small Farm Unit.  "We're thrilled to be involved in the mystery and challenges of growing food," she says.

The restaurant has won many awards over the years including the Green Award from Triangle Business Journal (2009), the Environmental Award from the City of Raleigh (2010), the Pinnacle Award in Sustainability from the Chamber of Commerce (2011), and the National Green Plus Small Business of the Year Award from the Institute of Sustainable Development (2012).

Anya also serves on the Wake Food Policy Council Task Force and the City of Raleigh's Environmental Advisory Board.  She is the membership chair of North Carolina Community Garden Partners and is on the local food committee of Advocates for Health in Action.


For more information about the Irregardless Café and Catering, please visit their website.

NC State's Agroecology Education Farm is Growing!

CEFS collaborates with the NC State Agroecology Minor Program and its growing Agroecology Education Farm (AEF), which provides hands-on education about agroecology and sustainable agriculture to NC State students, staff, faculty and the surrounding community.

The Agroecology Education Farm has been in development since 2007, when NC State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences dedicated land at the Lake Wheeler Road Field Laboratory in Raleigh. The plot of 6 acres had previously been used for corn and alfalfa silage production.

Patiently yet persistently driving the farm's development is Dr. Michelle Schroeder-Moreno, an Associate Professor in the Crop Science department at NC State, the Agroecology Program Coordinator, and CEFS' Assistant Director of Educational Programs. "I envisioned the farm as a place that would bring together NC State students, faculty, staff and community members to learn about sustainable agriculture," says Dr. Schroeder-Moreno.

In 2014, the farm hired its first full-time farm manager, Alison Reeves. Reeves grew up in Raleigh and graduated from UNC-Asheville with a BS in Environmental Science and from Virginia Tech with an MS in Entomology, with a focus on honey bee health. While at Virginia Tech, Reeves worked as the Dining Services Garden Manager.

That experience will serve Reeves well, as one of the AEF's goals is to produce fresh, healthy food that can be served on campus at NC State dining halls. "The idea is to extend sustainable agriculture education back to campus through the dining halls. NC State University Dining has been a great partner to work with," explains Dr. Schroeder-Moreno. In 2013, the farm sold nearly 1000 pounds of produce to NC State University Dining including tomatoes, peppers, melons, okra and herbs.

This year, Reeves hopes to increase both farm's harvest as well as the amount sold back to campus. "I love working on a farm that is focused on both education and production. Connecting the students to where their food is coming from and creating community connections adds an extra dimension to farming," she says.

Ready to get your hands dirty? The AEF hosts volunteers on Wednesdays from 3-7 pm and Thursdays from 2-5 pm. Larger volunteer groups can also contact the farm manager to arrange a convenient day and time. For more information, please visit the farm's Facebook page.

Center for Environmental Farming Systems
Box 7609 - NCSU
Raleigh, NC 27695