Corrected NCGT logo
NCGT Monthly Project Update
In This Issue: NCGT Local Food Supply Chain Apprentices
Tracy Grubb, NC 10% Campaign
Gigi Lytton, Lowes Foods
Josie Walker, Feast Down East
Kristen Miller, NC Choices
Shirlee Evans, NC Cooperative Extension
Eva Moss, Firsthand Foods
Erin Lowe, TRACTOR
About The Local Food Supply Chain Apprenticeship

This is the first year of the NCGT Local Food Supply Chain Summer 

In January of 2016, NCGT will invite applications from partner organizations that would like to mentor an apprentice for the summer of 2016.

For more information, please contact NCGT Project and Research Coordinator Rebecca Dunning.


 About NCGT
GOAL | Bring more locally-grown foods - produce, meat, dairy, and seafood - into mainstream retail and food service supply chains, thus enhancing food security by increasing access to local foods and by strengthening the economics of small to mid-sized farm and fishing operations.
STRATEGY | Identify the most promising solutions by which local production and associated value-added activities can enter local retail and food service markets, pilot these solutions in North Carolina, and evaluate and report the results for the benefit of other states and regions.
July 17, 2015

Greetings all,  


Welcome to a special edition of our monthly newsletter in which we meet our amazing NCGT summer apprentices.  


All of the apprentice profiles below were written by Kayla Forrest.  Kayla came to the NCGT project to learn more about sustainable agriculture during the summer between receiving her MA in English at NC State, and beginning work on her PhD at UNC-Greensboro in the fall.


We hope you enjoy it!



The NCGT Management Team

Tracy Grubb, NC 10% Campaign

Tracy (right) with NC 10% Campaign Director Robyn Stout.

Situated in Raleigh, NC, Tracy has been working with the NC 10% Campaign.  As their apprentice, Tracy has mostly focused on the education portion of the campaign, gathering information on existing resources which aim to teach consumers about sustainable, local food choices.  

In particular, Tracy is researching which local food terms and concepts are confusing to consumers, and ascertaining which educational materials are the most attractive and helpful to them.  She recognizes the importance of disseminating resources that will help buyers, distributors, consumers, and other actors in the local food supply chain to better understand the labels involved with buying sustainable, local fare.   

10% tomato Tracy explains, "There is a lot of deception in food labeling...that's a large part of why we are doing this.  Even as a label reader and a student in agriculture, I still have a lot of questions about what these claims really mean and I can see where purchasers and people in restaurants may not have time to look at these things."  She hopes that her research will help inform others about their food, enabling them to make sound purchasing choices. 

Gigi Lytton, Lowes Foods

As the Lowes Foods supply chain apprentice, Gigi has examined employee training in order to identify more ways in which store employees can learn about local food and then educate their customers about it.  
In addition, she has contacted vendors for a Direct-Store-Delivery (DSD) order book, which will aid stores in ordering local fare and she has also participated in farm visits to see the origins of different Lowes products.  All of these experiences have allowed her to see different parts of the supply chains which put local food on the shelves at Lowes' stores.  

Reflecting on her experiences thus far, Gigi says: "I think that I'm learning some pretty important stuff as far as translating what the business is like versus what the vision of sustainably produced food and locally produced food's interesting for me to see how the two visions can intersect."  

New Lowes Foods logo
Through her work with Lowes Foods, Gigi is gaining a deeper understanding of the many parts that make up local food supply chains, from the farmers to the retailers to the consumers.  She anticipates that this knowledge will help her better educate others in the future.
Josie Walker, Feast Down East

This summer, Josie has been working with Feast Down East, also called the Southeastern North Carolina Food Systems Program, in Burgaw, NC.  

Josie has contributed to several different Feast Down East projects, including completing purchase orders, communicating with farmers, and accomplishing other day to day tasks.  Much of her work has focused on preparing for a new food hub in Leland, NC.  To that end, Josie has been involved with researching the Burgaw/Wilmington area, assessing the needs of farmers who may be interested in getting involved with the hub, and networking with those farmers in a number of ways.  In particular, Josie has enjoyed meeting with farmers directly, as she has been able to learn about what they grow and share that with others.  

Feast Down East logo She is excited that her work is helping to set up the new food hub, explaining "I like to feel like I'm contributing something and what I'm doing actually matters."  Josie anticipates that her experiences with Feast Down East will enable her to bridge gaps in local food value chains through communication and networking.
Kristen Miller, NC Choices

  Working with NC Choices, Kristen has learned a lot about local meat supply chains.  Participating on many levels, Kristen has had the opportunity to help with a Women Working in the Meat Business seminar, conduct consumer surveys regarding label claims at local farmers markets, create documents to help farmers sell their meat to grocery stores, and develop pricing spreadsheets that explain what it costs to produce beef, chicken, and pork.  

Kristen's experiences on her family's beef cattle farm and as an intern with Tyson have provided her with a rich understanding of meat production and costs on the commercial level; this is knowledge which she has used to create resources for producing and selling local meat.   

Kristen says that one of the benefits she has gained from this apprenticeship is a better understanding of local meat, in comparison to commercial meat.  About her work with NC Choices, she says "it makes me a little more well-rounded, because I'm more aware of the local foods now where I was more on the commercial side of the helps to know the differences between them and the challenges that they each face."  

Kristen believes her understanding of both markets will be helpful to her when it comes time to find a job in the meat industry.

Shirlee Evans, Cooperative Extension

Located near her family's farm in Fayetteville, Shirlee has been working with the Cumberland County Cooperative Extension as they support local farmers in their community.  

In particular, Shirlee has been instrumental in working on some important projects for the Cumberland CES, such as the Fayetteville Farmers Market.  Throughout the summer, Shirlee has been promoting  the market through various media formats, reaching out to farmers to get them involved, and attaining non-profit status for the market.  In addition to working with the Farmers Market, Shirlee has also helped to develop a list of local farmers and their products, which can be easily distributed throughout the county.  

Shirlee has used her experiences with her family's local farm to reach out to small and mid-sized farmers, as well as the local community, in order to grow the Farmers Market.  

Shirlee also had the opportunity to attend an NCGT produce development meeting at partner-company Foster-Caviness during her apprenticeship, and was excited to hear about the company's planned efforts to work with mid-scale growers as part of the Greener Fields Together program.

Regarding her experiences, Shirlee says "Doing this [NCGT apprenticeship] has really made me want to go out and help all farmers, not just my dad, not just the people who I know...I just want to help all small farmers get on the map to produce, so people can buy local."  She plans to work towards this goal by studying agribusiness at NC State University.

Eva Moss, Firsthand Foods

As the apprentice for Firsthand Foods, Eva has participated in several projects aimed at connecting small, pasture-based meat farmers to local markets.  In particular, Eva has worked on two main projects, the first of which is creating a case study documenting the relationship between Firsthand Foods and Carolina Dining Services, which will be a resource for other food hubs looking to create similar relationships.  

The second is developing a marketing plan for the "stock box" which will be a method of selling animal bones that might otherwise be wasted.  

Coming into this apprenticeship, Eva felt she lacked experience about the marketing and production side of local food.   After working with Firsthand Foods, however, she feels she better understands local meat supply chains and she can now educate others about them.  

Eva stresses the importance of her work with Firsthand Foods, saying "right now I'm helping to move the animals forward in the food supply chain, but moving that information about how that happens forward too, and making that accessible... I think it definitely will inform my work in the non-profit sector." 

Her first step towards that goal includes getting her MA in food and agriculture law and policy, and she anticipates that what she has learned will prepare her for her studies and future career. 

Erin Lowe, TRACTOR

As the apprentice for TRACTOR (Toe River Aggregation Center Training Organization Regional Inc.), Erin has enjoyed working with the food hub community as they seek to support and educate farmers regarding how to get their produce into local grocery stores and also stimulate the local economy through partnerships with local businesses.  

This summer, Erin has helped to revitalize the TRACTOR website to make it an educational and networking tool to reach out to farmers, buyers, and members of the community.  

She has also participated in a number of activities which have exposed her to what goes on in a food hub including harvesting produce with local farmers, as well as signing in, logging in, and labeling product.  This behind-the-scenes look at the ins and outs of a successful food hub has helped her understand the intermediary steps between production and consumption in local food supply chains. 

Erin explains, "Part of what I wanted to learn coming into this was more about some of the things that make it difficult, actually, for small farmers to sell their produce or make a living, and I've definitely learned a lot about those sorts of things... I think food hubs are helping to solve some of those problems."   Erin anticipates that she will use what she has learned at TRACTOR as she pursues a future in agriculture.

Project Contact Information


Rebecca Dunning, NCGT Project and Research Coordinator,, 919-389-2220

Nancy Creamer, Director of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, NC State University; and Project Director, NC Growing Together,, 919-515-9447


Michelle Schroeder-Moreno, NCGT Academic Coordinator,, 919-513-0085


Joanna Lelekacs, NCGT Extension and Training Coordinator,, 919-244-5269
John Day, NCGT Military Partnership Coordinator,, 704-785-6670


Krista Morgan, Locally Grown Accounts Representative, Lowes Foods; and Lowes Foods Liaison, NC Growing Together,, 336-775-3218 ext. 53218 


Patricia Tripp, NCGT Produce Supply Chain Development Liaison,, 336-458-6980 


JJ Richardson, NCGT Website and Communications Coordinator,, 919-889-8219 


This project is supported by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative competitive grant no. 2013-68004-20363 of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. 

   USDA NIFA logo
2013-2015 NC Growing Together