It’s a rewarding feeling to know that your hard-earned money is helping support your surrounding community. No matter who you are or how much you spend, it’s an easy task to shop for locally-grown goods and get to know your resident farmers.
In addition to supporting our local economy and promoting sustainability in our agriculture system, buying local ensures that you are eating healthier items that are grown with care. According to the USDA Census of Agriculture, 40,000 farms have closed since 1974 in North Carolina. In an effort to preserve the flavors of our local food system, two North Carolina organizations are working together to provide training and funding for our future farmers.
About Piedmont Culinary Guild:
Piedmont Culinary Guild (PCG) is a non-profit organization that connects the culinary community in the Piedmont region of North and South Carolina. PCG was founded on the principle idea that sharing resources, promoting educational opportunities, and bridging the gap between farmers, chefs, restaurants, and consumers can help develop and secure the local food system. For more information on how to get involved, visit www.piedmontculinaryguild.com.
About Center for Environmental Farming Systems:
The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) is a partnership of NC State University, NC Agricultural and Technical State University, and the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. CEFS provides research, extension, and education in sustainable agriculture and community-based food systems. To learn more about CEFS and the programs they support, please visit https://cefs.ncsu.edu.
CEFS’ annual event, Farm to Fork Picnic, has become one of the largest culinary events in North Carolina, with Bon Appetit magazine recognizing it as “the country’s best all-you-can-eat feast” in 2009. With PCG’s partnership, this yearly event will expand to Charlotte this upcoming September.
“Farm to Fork In The Garden will be a joyous celebration of local foods and the local food and farming community that brings these foods to our plates,” notes PCG Executive Director Kris Reid. “We are thrilled and honored to be working with CEFS, which has provided much needed funding to beginning farmers through apprenticeship programs, and promotes just and equitable food and farming systems that conserve natural resources.”
So what exactly is locally-grown food and its benefits?
Buying “local” means that the food (and other agricultural products, example: flowers) you are purchasing is grown, produced and sold within a certain territory. Depending on who you ask, it’s generally within a 100 mile-radius of its point of sale or consumption.
Knowing where your food comes from and the practices behind producing it helps support the growers that cultivate it. Not only do you develop a connection with your immediate community, but you also become more aware of what you’re putting into your body.
FACT: Local food is fresher and just tastes better, it’s that simple. Growers in the Charlotte region raise a variety of heirloom produce that you cannot find in any grocery store. They contain more nutrients than items shipped from afar and are bursting with flavor.
How can you support your local farmer?
In an effort to help our current farmers stay in business, PCG and CEFS will host the Farm to Fork in the Garden dinner on Sunday, September 23rd.
Farm to Fork in the Garden aims to connect consumers with the artisans who grow their food along with the chefs that support their farms. The event will offer more than 20 seasonal dishes created from chef-farmer pairings, guest speakers touching base on sustainable practices, samples from multiple food purveyors and beverage tastings. This year’s festivities will be a celebration of all things local in the gorgeous, outdoor setting of Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden.
Participating chefs: Adam Reed, Andrew Dodd, Ashley Boyd, Christopher Young, Dave Feimster, Gene Kato, James Patterson, Jamie Barnes, Jonathan Fortes, Jossie Lukacik, Joy Turner, Julie Simon, Larry Schreiber, Matthew Martin, Michael Bowling, Michael Rayfield, Mike Rozycki, Oscar LaFuente, Ryan Forte, Steven Goff, Terra Ciotta, Travis Myers, and Paul Verica.
Participating farms: A Way of Life Farm, Alexander Acres, Barbee Farms, Clearview Farms, Dover Vineyards, Friendship Gardens, Green Meadow Acres, Hickory Nut Gap Farm, J&J Family Farm, Lucky Leaf, Rocky River Farms, Rogue Farms, Street Fare Farm, Strongbird Farm, Tega Hills Farm, Two Pigs Farm, Underwood Family Farms, Urban Gourmet Farms, Wild Hope Farm, and Wild Turkey Farm.
Participating beverage vendors: Free Range Brewing, Muddy River Distillery, Dover Vineyards, Up Dog Kombucha, Catawba Brewing Company, TOPO Distillery, Surry Cellars, Uncle Scott’s Root Beer, Lenny Boy Brewing Co., Copper Barrel, and Red Clay Cider Works.
Participating artisans: Blue Goat Dairy, Your Mom’s Donuts, Duke’s Bread, Niki’s Pickles, Foggy Mountain Pasta, Orrman’s Cheese Shop, Garnet Gals Jams & Jellies, Savory Spice Shop, Carolina Craft Butchery, Sun Raised Farms, Coddle Creek Farms, and Schaal Foods.
In addition to attending fund-raising events throughout the year, I also encourage you to shop and volunteer at your nearby farmers market (find yours by clicking here). Not only does this help you decrease your own carbon footprint by reducing the need for long-distance commercial shipping, but the food purchased here is generally grown using sustainable methods that minimize their impact on earth.
Other ways you can spread awareness is by asking your preferred grocery store to carry locally-grown produce and setting up a way to get your child’s school involved (idea: farm-day field trip, anyone?).