December 2014
In This Issue
Thank You Sponsors
NC 10% Campaign Releases "Collards in the Cafeteria"
NC Growing Together Sponsors MBA Student Teams
Save the Date! Farm to Fork Weekend, June 5-7 2015
CEFS Receives Over $2.5 Million in Competitive Grant Funding
CEFS Celebrates its 20th Anniversary!
CEFS Developing New Initiative to Confront Structural Racism and Food Inequity
Board Member Spotlight: The Honorable Eva Clayton
CEFS' Community Food Strategies Initiative Working to Support, Coordinate Statewide Food Systems Work
Press Coverage of NC Choices' Women Working in the Meat Business

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Thank You to our 20th Anniversary SOILbration and Special Events Sponsors!

Grand Sponsor


Sustaining Sponsors

Amy's Kitchen logo

Soil Renaissance Logo

Supporting Sponsors

Biltmore Estate

Nash Produce


Steward Sponsor


Mt. Olive Pickle Co.

Guardian Sponsors

Goldsboro Wayne Co. Travel & Tourism

NC Blueberry Council, Inc.

NC Dairy Producers Association

Sustainable Agriculture Program at CCCC

Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation

Wayne Soil & Water Conservation District

Cultivator Sponsor
North Carolina Forage & Grassland Council

NC 10% Campaign Releases Collards in the Cafeteria, A Video Taste of Farm-to-School in Gaston County

Nestled in the agricultural heart of North Carolina, Gaston County schools are attempting to source 10% of their produce locally. Students love the addition of fresh, local strawberries and watermelons to their menu, but how about collards?


Collards in the Cafeteria follows the journey of this nutrient-rich leafy green from the fields to the county's Central Kitchen, where they are cooked and processed in a Wonka-like fashion for cafeteria service the following day. Frank Fields, Director of School Nutrition, shares the secret of the final step; getting students to try and, perhaps, even love this classic Southern side dish.


The first in a series of short profiles created bVittles Films for the NC 10% Campaign, Collards in the Cafeteria was funded by the Golden LEAF Foundation to spotlight the local food heroes who are making farm to fork a reality.   

"We want folks to watch these films and be inspired by seeing how others are making 'farm to fork' work, and feel motivated to take action whether it be through demanding local foods, connecting growers and buyers, or financially supporting local foods infrastructure," says Robyn Stout, NC 10% Campaign Statewide Coordinator.


Visit the NC 10% Campaign's website to watch Collards in the Cafeteria!
NC Growing Together Sponsors MBA Feasibility Study of Locally-Sourced Bagged Frozen Produce

Corrected NCGT logo

NC Growing Together (NCGT) is sponsoring student teams at NC State Poole College of Management's Supply Chain Resource Cooperative and Consumer Innovation Consortium that are addressing pressing business and supply chain issues.

NCGT is a CEFS-led initiative that is working to bring more locally-grown foods -- produce, meat, dairy, and seafood -- into mainstream retail and food service supply chains, 

In the Spring 2014 semester, one of three sponsored teams examined a hot topic among North Carolina's food business entrepreneurs and food hubs: the potential costs and returns of transforming local produce into a bagged frozen version for sale in retail stores.

"Over the past year a number of hubs have brought up the idea of adding a frozen produce enterprise to their fresh produce aggregation and distribution operations, creating an additional income stream and helping to preserve their brand identity in retail stores over the winter months," says NCGT Project and Research Director Rebecca Dunning. "Having an MBA team available to collect data and do the analysis with our food hub partners has been ideal." 

"We have the capacity to blast freeze and have tried it on a limited basis, but without a detailed analysis of the costs and potential returns, we were hesitant to go in that direction. Now we are equipped to make a decision for next season," added Leslie Hossfeld, Executive Director of Feast Down East food hub in Burgaw, NC.

The team's Powerpoint summary and cost-return analysis spreadsheets for Feast Down East and Pilot Mountain Pride -- which can be adapted for use in other ventures --  can be found on the Research page of the NC Growing Together website.

For information on additional NCGT partner/MBA research team collaborations, please contact NCGT Project and Research Director Rebecca Dunning. 

Save the Date!
Farm to Fork weekend, June 5-7 2015 


Farm to Fork picnic

CEFS is expanding the Farm to Fork picnic to a whole weekend full of local food events in 2015! 

Mark your calendars for June 5 - 7 and plan to attend at least one of the three scheduled events, organized to raise funds for new farmer training programs. 

The weekend will kick off on Friday evening with a fantastic dinner at Duke Gardens, featuring amazing chefs from across the state. In addition to the Sunday Farm to Fork picnic, we will combine our annual Sustainable Agriculture Lecture with a food truck rodeo that Saturday evening, June 6.


Check the CEFS website for more information!

CEFS Receives Over $2.5 Million in Competitive Grant Funding to Support Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education


Researchers at CEFS have received 3 separate grants totaling more than $2.5 million since July 2014 to support research and education at CEFS' 2000-acre research farm in Goldsboro and on farms across the state.


In September, CEFS researchers were awarded $1,415,833 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture Organic Research and Extension Initiative for "Evaluation of the Milk and Meat Residues of Organic Therapies for Mastitis".  Mastitis is a common disease in dairy cows and is usually treated with antibiotics. 


CEFS researchers will evaluate three commonly-used herbal organic mastitis products to determine if any residues remain in the milk and meat of treated cattle.  "We're trying to help organic farmers continue to provide safe milk and meat to consumers by providing them with more information about the products they can use," said Dr. Keena Mullen, the project's lead investigator.


The project will culminate with short training courses and online seminars to share the research with farmers and other industry stakeholders. The study includes investigators Drs. Steve Washburn and Keena Mullen of NC State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as well as Drs. Kevin Anderson and Ronald Baynes from NC State's College of Veterinary Medicine and Dr. Sharon Mason of Campbell University.


Also in September, CEFS researchers were awarded $995,710 from the USDA's National Resources Conservation Service's Conservation Innovation Grants program for "Improving Soil Health on Pasture-Based Livestock Farms in the Southeastern US".  The funding will allow CEFS researchers to implement diverse forage systems on 9 private farms and 6 research stations in North Carolina and Georgia, with the goal of evaluating soil nutrient distribution and improvement in soil health.


The project will help expand the scale and geographic reach of the Amazing Grazing program, a CEFS-based initiative that provides educational opportunities and hands-on training to help livestock producers understand their farm as a dynamic ecological system and maximize benefits associated with raising their animals on pasture.  Investigators from NC State include Dr. Matt Poore from the Animal Science Department, Dr. Miguel Castillo from the Crop Science Department and Dr. Alan Franzluebbers from USDA and the Soil Science Department.


In July, CEFS researchers were awarded a $103,784 grant by the Walmart Foundation and administered by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability for "Sustainable Soil Management Practices for Strawberries: Diverse Approaches for Facilitating Adoption".  The research builds on previous work conducted by NC State's Dr. Michelle Schroeder-Moreno, Dr. Gina Fernandez and PhD student Amanda McWhirt to evaluate soil management practices - like compost, summer cover crops and beneficial soil inoculants - that simultaneously promote soil health and fruit yields with the goal of promoting the long-term sustainability of strawberry production systems in the southeast.


The grant will help continue this research and fund the expansion of the project to include multiple statewide on-farm research projects and extension activities aimed at increasing awareness and the use of sustainable soil management practices on North Carolina's strawberry farms.  North Carolina ranks third in the U.S. in strawberry production in terms of harvested crop value.


CEFS Director Dr. Nancy Creamer said, "We are very excited to receive this level of support for our innovative production systems research that assists growers across the state in implementing more sustainable practices on their farms and ranches." 



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CEFS Celebrates its 20th Anniversary!


On a perfect fall day, several hundred people gather around Ray Archuleta and Steve Woodruff of the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service. They are intently watching a rainfall simulator demonstrate what happens when rain falls on agricultural soils that have been managed in different ways. Overhead sprinklers mimic a hard summer rain over sections of real soil pulled from fields that have been managed as permanent pasture, or using conservation tillage, conventional tillage, and no-till practices.

Steve Woodruff of USDA NRCS.
Glass jars beneath each soil sample begin to fill up with both sediment runoff and water that has filtered through the soil. The water varies from the nearly clear water emerging from the permanent pasture section, to the dark amber muddy water emerging from the conventional-tillage section. The jars underneath the pasture are no more than full (demonstrating the holding capacity of the soil), while the jars underneath the tilled section are nearly overflowing (demonstrating the soil's minimal ability to retain moisture). People stand on tip-toe, jostling for a good view. 

Dr. Joel Gruver demonstrating "revealing roots" at the Small Farm Unit.
The demonstration was part of CEFS' SOILbration, a day-long educational event held on October 17 as part of CEFS' 20th Anniversary celebrations. Approximately 300 people attended the SOILbration , which also offered cover crop and other demonstrations, tours of the farm's various units, exhibitors, posters, and a delicious, locally-sourced lunch. 

The event drew farmers, extension agents, students, food system advocates and activists, and members of the general public. Ciranna Bird, a medical writer from Raleigh who was visiting the farm for the first time, said "I had no idea how passionate people -- soil scientists, farmers, and conservationists -- felt about protecting soil. The enthusiasm and knowledge base of the speakers and attendees at the event was amazing!" Bird was drawn to the SOILbration because of her interest in pasture-based dairy systems. She said that having the opportunity to tour CEFS' Pasture-Based Dairy Unit was "irresistible."

Fred Kirschenmann.
The celebratory weekend continued the next day with CEFS' Annual Sustainable Agriculture Lecture, "The Future of Food and Agriculture," given by renowned sustainable agriculture expert Fred Kirschenmann

Kirschenmann is a
Distinguished Fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Ames, Iowa and President of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in New York. He gave an impassioned argument for the importance of long-term thinking about a range of agricultural and food systems issues, especially in the face of climate change and other pressing challenges. You can watch Kirschenmann's lecture

The 20th anniversary celebrations culminated that evening with a reunion dinner at NC State's Talley Student Center highlighting delicious, local and sustainable foods. A panel of speakers representing CEFS' past and future was moderated by Dr. John O'Sullivan, recently retired CEFS Co-Director from NC A&T. 

Dr. Paul Mueller, Professor Emeritus of Crop Science at NC State University, and one of CEFS' founders said, "What started as a 'place' thing, based at Cherry Research Farm in Goldsboro, has become much more than that. I never could have imagined it at the time."  

Dr. Roger Crickenberger, NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Administrative liaison to CEFS' Board of Advisors, and one of CEFS' earliest supporters, agreed. "The conference on Southern region sustainable agriculture research and education programming in Callaway Gardens, Georgia in 1993 was the first and most important engagement of a diverse array of stakeholders, prominently including farmers, to begin understanding and communicating the concept of agricultural sustainability in our region.  Out of that experience came a comfort level of engaging diverse thinkers that set the model for how CEFS was organized and operates to this day," he said.

Speaker panel (L-R): Dr. Paul Mueller, Sue Perry Cole, Dr. Roger Crickenberger, Shorlette Ammons, and Alex Hitt.

Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farm in Alamance County and long-time CEFS Board Member, said that he and his wife Betsy have had an "amazing ride" since CEFS "welcomed us into the group."

Sue Perry Cole, President and Chief Executive Officer of the North Carolina Association of Community Development Corporations and member of CEFS' Board of Advisors, and Shorlette Ammons, CEFS' Community-Based Food Systems Outreach Coordinator, spoke to the most pressing problem facing our food system today, and CEFS' biggest challenge for the future: addressing food equity issues and making good, healthy food accessible for everyone.

Following the panel discussion, CEFS Director Nancy Creamer welcomed Dan Gerlach, President of the Golden LEAF Foundation, to the podium.  He said, "Passion, purpose and stewardship are what excite investors in a cause.   By making more North Carolinians aware of where food comes from and who grows it, CEFS has helped expand markets and provide more opportunities for those who want to stay on the land.   I personally am a 10 Percenter [referring to CEFS' 10% Campaign] and am proud to be one!"

Danielle Treadwell giving her "CEFS Talk".
The dinner program then concluded with "CEFS Talks", featuring CEFS alumni describing how their CEFS experiences influenced them and how they're impacting the world now. There were many laughable moments and at times, teary eyes as well, as former interns, graduate students and staff shared how much CEFS has meant to them.

Thank you to all our sponsors, and to everyone who celebrated with us!  Click here to see photos from our 20th Anniversary Special Events. 
CEFS Developing New Initiative to Confront Structural Racism & Food Inequity

With leadership from NC Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T), CEFS is embarking on a new university/community collaboration to address structural racism and inequities in our food system.  The developing initiative will build on lessons learned from CEFS' community-based programs in Goldsboro and around the state, prioritizing youth access to food, jobs, careers, and a voice in an equitable food system.  The work is being supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.


Shorlette Ammons, CEFS' Community-Based Foods Systems Outreach Coordinator, will lead the initiative in partnership with community leaders.  She says, "The initial phase will focus on the internal work needed to become solid allies with the communities we serve.  For us, that means developing a shared language and framework around structural racism and its impacts on the food system, particularly on young people of color and other marginalized communities." 


Based at NC A&T, Ammons is a 2013 Food Equity Fellow at the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI). As part of her CSI fellowship, Ammons authored Shining a Light in Dark Places: Raising up the Work of Southern Women of Color in the Food System, which describes the realities of current and past food systems from the perspectives of Southern women of color.


The initiative is currently in the planning stage.  "We want this to be a genuine process where we build trust and shared vision with communities in order to co-create the strategies we need that will lead to long-term change.  We are conveners and engagers as well as learners and sharers in this process," says Ammons.


Ammons and Tes Thraves, CEFS' Youth and Community-Based Food Systems Coordinator, recently co-presented a webinar on the evolution of CEFS' work to address food system inequities and the larger food equity context regionally and nationally.  

Board Member Spotlight: The Honorable Eva Clayton


Eva ClaytonEva Clayton made history in November 1992 when she became the first woman elected to Congress from the State of North Carolina, and the first African American since 1901.

Congresswoman Clayton represented the First Congressional District in North Carolina from 1992 to 2003. She served in various positions of leadership including: President of her Freshman Class (1993-94); Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; and the Co-Chair of the Rural Caucus. She was the Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry Sub-Committee. 

Clayton was recognized by several agricultural organizations for her leadership on agricultural issues and was known as a fighter for smaller farmers and rural communities.

Clayton retired from Congress in 2003 and accepted a three-year assignment with Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Rome, Italy. As the Assistant Director General and Special Advisor to the Director General, she encouraged, facilitated and nurtured the establishment of 24 National Alliances (Partnerships) in various countries around the world to work together to reduce hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

Clayton remains active with agriculture, rural development, and food security. She recently wrote an op-ed for the New York Times on Local Food for the Military.

A member of CEFS' Board of Advisors since 2010, Clayton says, "Serving on CEFS' Board affords me an opportunity to be engaged with and to be aware of small farmers' opportunities and challenges in North Carolina. It also allows me to interact with and learn from state leaders in agriculture, business, community and the universities who care deeply about small farmers and a financially strong, environmentally healthy agricultural sector in North Carolina."

Clayton is married to Attorney Theaoseus Clayton Sr. of Warren County, North Carolina and they have four adult children and six grandchildren. They are active in their community and are members of Cotton Memorial Presbyterian Church.

CEFS' Community Food Strategies Initiative Working to Support, Coordinate Statewide Food Systems Work

In 2008 and 2009, CEFS convened hundreds of food system stakeholders from across the state in "Farm to Fork", a groundbreaking exploration of action opportunities for building a local, sustainable food system.  The initiative produced a statewide action guide identifying "game changer" strategies for transforming North Carolina's food system, From Farm to Fork: Building a Sustainable Local Food Economy in North Carolina.


The guide is viewed as a blueprint for statewide local food systems work, and many of its game changer ideas have been implemented.  In 2013, funded by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, CEFS began working on the next phase of statewide assessment and action planning, the Community Food Strategies (CFS) initiative.


Community Food Strategies builds upon the original Farm to Fork, with an intentional focus on broadening its scope.  "In the original Farm to Fork initiative, 60% of participants were from the Triangle [region] and 25% were from higher education or government.  As a result, we weren't getting the whole picture," explains CFS Coordinator Christy Shi Day.  

Western regional meeting at the Local Food Council Gathering.

Before planning began, Shi Day spent months listening to ideas from various groups across the state.  From these conversations, she realized that the scale and focus of the initiative needed to be at the community level.  "We have to figure out what's happening at the local level [across the state] and where our communities are headed, and how that can be aggregated and communicated back to state-level actors who frequently have the resources, tools and connections that local groups need," she says.


Shi Day assembled a project team including colleagues from Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA), Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), Care Share, University of North Carolina, and various staff from the defunded Community Transformation Grant initiative. 


The project team decided to focus on Local Food Councils, groups that work on food system issues from information-sharing, to healthy food access, to policy change, in their own communities.  Councils were already forming in many parts of the state as an outcome of the Farm to Fork process.  


Networking at the Local Food Council Gathering.

"We viewed these groups as potential access points for engaging diverse groups of food system actors at the community level," she explains.  Building on existing momentum, the Community Food Strategies initiative spent its first year strengthening and building capacity of local food councils.


An important aspect of this network development is providing institutional support.  At the local level, institutional support can come from local government.  Partnering with the UNC School of Government, CFS has been raising awareness and building readiness for local governments to engage with food council development.


"Community-level collaboration to develop local food systems is central to local government purposes because it speaks to community-building as a social phenomenon as well as other aspects of quality of life such as health, economy, and environment. Since the School of Government exists to provide support to local governments in North Carolina, partnering with CEFS to provide education and outreach on this important topic seemed like a natural fit," says Rick Morse, Associate Professor of Public Administration and Government at UNC.

The work has also been supported by the Local Food Council of North Carolina (LFCNC), a statewide council comprised of organizations, agencies, and groups working from diverse approaches and for varying reasons on the common aim of strengthening North Carolina's local food systems.  As the state food council, the LFCNC has chosen to focus on interacting with local councils to strengthen community efforts and coordinate efforts between groups.


The opening session at the Local Food Council gathering, December 4.


Delegates from the fledgling local food council network were brought together for the first time December 4-5 in Winston-Salem, NC.  Over 120 delegates from more than 36 local groups and approximately 24 state organizations and agencies were convened by the LFCNC for their inaugural statewide conference.   The CFS team supported the LFCNC with design and implementation of the event.


Earline Middleton, Vice-President of Agency Services and Programs for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, chaired the event's planning committee.  "The planning committee created a space where best practices could be explored, new ideas generated, and the experience of wisdom used to build healthy, vibrant families and strong communities," she said.


At the conference, CFS team members Abbey Piner of CEFS and Katie Descieux of ASAP unveiled a toolkit for food councils.  A product of the CFS initiative, the "Collective Impact Toolkit" is designed to help local councils and networks bring together groups in their community and use the collective impact approach to planning.  

In 2015, the CFS initiative will continue to strengthen the network of networks both at the state and local levels. CFS team members will also provide training and technical assistance for councils and networks interested in collective impact.  "We are setting in motion a type of action planning at the local level that brings people together around the results they're trying to achieve" says Shi Day.


For more information about Community Food Strategies and Local Food Council work in North Carolina, contact Christy Shi Day or visit the NC Food Councils and Networks' Facebook page.

Press Coverage of NC Choices' Women Working in the Meat Business

Women In Meat Retreat 2014

The State of Things: Women in the Meat Business

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