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Initiative Launched to Increase Farmers Market Sales and Local Food Access

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

ASHEVILLE NC – Two of North Carolina’s leading local food and farmer advocacy organizations have joined forces on a major new initiative to increase farmer direct sales and expand local food access. ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) and RAFI-USA (Rural Advancement Foundation International) have partnered on the project, Connect2Direct. The goal for the collaboration is to support and build equitable community-based local food economies through the development of  direct markets for farmers in North Carolina. ASAP has nearly two decades of local food systems development experience and RAFI is a national leader in farmer-led policy and market reforms.

Demand for locally grown food continues to grow and direct farm sales are an important connector between farmers and the community. North Carolina is home to a variety of direct markets including on-farm stores, roadside stands, community supported agriculture programs (CSAs), and according to the USDA’s Farmers Market Directory, nearly 250 farmers markets.  Despite this, according to the USDA Census of Agriculture the combined sales of these outlets increased only slightly from 2007 to 2012 to $31.8 million.

“There are tremendous opportunities for farmers to increase direct sales” said ASAP Executive Director Charlie Jackson. “We’ve just scratched the surface of potential for North Carolina farms and communities and efforts to expand access through outreach and food assistance programs are good for our farms, our health, and our local economies” notes Jackson.

Over the past few years efforts in North Carolina to increase access to fresh farm products through supplemental nutrition assistance programs such as  SNAP/EBT and the Farmers Market Nutrition Program have grown. From 2010 to 2013, the number of NC farmers markets authorized to accept SNAP/EBT increased 175%, from 24 to 66 markets.  “Ensuring that all North Carolinians have access to health foods, particularly direct from the farmer, is central to the Connect2Direct mission and good for communities” said Scott Marlow, Executive Director for RAFI-USA.

Connect2Direct aims to dramatically increase farm to consumer direct sales and the usage of EBT/SNAP at farmers markets in NC – by over 100% within two years – by providing training and technical assistance to markets and market vendors, creating effective marketing and outreach campaigns, facilitating the transactional process for EBT/SNAP, and building statewide capacity and efficiency to sustainably ensure that all North Carolinians have access to fresh foods grown by local farmers. A Farmers Market and Direct Sales Conference is planned for November 2015. Find  out more about the initiative at www.connect2direct.org.

Funding partners include the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Southern Risk Management Education Center, USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program, and Wholesome Wave. Additional partners include UNC’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, NC Department of Health and Human Services, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, and select farmers markets across the state.

For upcoming workshops and announcements, please visit: www.connect2direct.org

ASAP Contact: Charlie Jackson, Executive Director, [email protected]

RAFI Contact: Scott Marlow, Executive Director, [email protected]

About ASAP: ASAP’s mission is to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and supporters, and build healthy communities through connections to local food. To learn more about ASAP’s work, visit asapconnections.org, or call (828) 236-1282.

About RAFI: RAFI’s mission is to cultivate markets, policies, and communities that sustain thriving, socially just, and environmentally sound family farms. To learn more about RAFI’s work, visit rafiusa.org. or call (919) 542-1396.

Farm to School is in Swing This Spring

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

ASHEVILLE NC – At preschools and elementary schools throughout Western North Carolina, students are planting seeds and harvesting early-season vegetables, whipping up fresh local foods, and preparing for enriching farm field trips through ASAP’s Growing Minds Farm to School Program.

“While our program runs year-round, there is something special about springtime,” says Growing Minds Director Emily Jackson. “Children get to see the seeds they planted grow into beautiful vegetables and flowers, and our area’s farms are coming to life again. Farms are ready to welcome children for field trips and have product to provide to school cafeterias and to chefs for classroom cooking demos.” She adds, “This season is also the best time for us to share our resources—from free seeds to children’s books to grant funding.”

Teachers are now using cooking kits, distributed by ASAP’s Growing Minds earlier this year, in classroom local food cooking demos. Forty schools received kits valued at $2,000 each; Partnership for a Healthier America awarded the kits to ASAP.

ASAP recently announced recipients of their 2012-2013 Farm to School Community Grant: Bald Creek Elementary in Yancey County, Freedom Trail Elementary in Avery County, and Pinnacle Elementary in Rutherford County. The grantees receive training and technical assistance, $3,000 to launch or expand a Farm to School program, and local food and farm promotional materials.

ASAP’s Growing Minds is also providing 10 mini-grants for farm field trips in 2012. Nine schools—from preschool through high school—in Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, and Anderson (SC) counties are receiving $200 to fund educational outings around local food.

Spring is an equally exciting time for the Growing Minds program. They just released the second Local Food Guide for Kids, modeled after ASAP’s popular adult version; the publication is a guide to area school gardens, family-friendly farms, and other Farm to School happenings in Asheville City schools and schools in Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, and Jackson counties. It is currently being distributed to students and can also be found online at growing-minds.org. The program will also launch a new website this season. The vibrant new layout and design will make resources for teachers and parents easier to find and download.

ABOUT ASAP (APPALACHIAN SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PROJECT)

ASAP’s mission is to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and supporters, and build healthy communities through connections to local food. Growing Minds, ASAP’s Farm to School program, works to connect farms and schools and give children positive experiences with healthy foods. Experiences include farm field trips, nutrition education, school gardens, and local food in cafeterias.

To learn more about Growing Minds, visit growing-minds.org. For information about ASAP’s work in the region, visit asapconnections.org, or call 828-236-1282.

ASAP: It’s Family Farm Tour Time!

Monday, June 13th, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NC – For one weekend every summer, the gates and barns of WNC farms open to the public for the Family Farm Tour, even those farms that don’t normally allow visitors! The self-guided driving tour is your chance to learn how food grows, taste farm-fresh treats, interact with farm animals, and meet the community’s food producers. How does it work? Buy an ADMISSION BUTTON, pack your car with your family or a group of friends, grab a tour guide (or download one HERE), and set off to celebrate the region’s agricultural heritage and enjoy our beautiful rural landscape!

ADMISSION INFORMATION:

Buying Your Farm Tour Button

Pack your car with a group of friends or family; the more people in your vehicle, the better the deal. One button admits an entire carload!

Family Farm Tour button is your ticket

Purchase a button for admission at any of these button vendors or use the Farm Tour online form.

Get your carload into all farms:
$25 pre-purchase
$30 the day of the event
OR
$10 per carload to visit individual farms.

This year, your Family Farm Tour button gets you into the Polk County Farm Tour, too!

Get the full Polk County Farm Tour Map at Mills Spring Ag Center, 4 School Rd Mill Spring, NC 28756, or at any of the participating farms. While ASAP’s Family Farm Tour happens on Saturday and Sunday, June 25th and 26th, Polk County farms will be open ONLY on Saturday the 25th.

VOLUNTEER:

Want to support a farmer the weekend of the tour? Sign up to volunteer and attend the farm tour for FREE!

Working with an organization, business, or club committed to supporting local food and farms? Recruit a volunteer team! For more information on volunteering as an individual or as a team contact [email protected].

Many thanks to the following organizations, businesses, and institutions currently forming volunteer teams:

Asheville City Schools Teachers
Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training
EarthFare
French Broad Food Co-op
Greenlife
NC Cooperative Extension – Madison County
NC Cooperative Extension – Yancey County
North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement
Warren Wilson College
Western North Carolina Alliance

2011 PARTICIPATING FARMS:

This year, there are 41 participating farms — that’s the most that have ever participated! What’s more, 18 participants are NEW stops! Find a list of all 41 farms below, and click HERE to learn more about what you’ll find and experience at each location.

Buncombe
1 Becki’s Bounty
2 Blue Ridge Bison
3 Dillingham Family Farm
4 Emma Farms
5 Flying Cloud Farm
6 Gaining Ground Farm
7 Good Fibrations
8 Hawk and Ivy
9 Hickory Nut Gap Farm
10 Hominy Valley Farms
11 Hop’n Blueberry Farm
12 Imladris Farm
13 Ivy Creek Family Farm
14 Jordan Blackley Farm
15 Lady Luck Flower Farm
16 Long Branch Environmental Education Center
17 Looking Glass Creamery
18 Martins Creek Homestead
19 Ox-Ford Farm
20 Round Mountain Creamery
21 Thatchmore Farm
22 Venezia Dream Farm
23 Whispersholler Farms
Madison
24 East Fork Farm
25 The Farm Retreat and Home of Farm House Beef
26 Fisher Branch Farm
27 New Direction Farm
28 Philosophy Farm
29 Spinning Spider Creamery
30 Sunswept Farm Conservancy
31 Wake Robin Farm
32 Wild Mountain Apiaries

Yancey
33 Arthur Morgan School
34 Green Toe Ground Farm
35 Mountain Farm
36 Mountain Gardens
37 Wellspring Farm

Haywood
38 Chambers Farm Market
39 Mountain Organic Research and Extension Unit
40 Sunburst Trout
41 Ten Acre Garden

Posana Cafe Celebrates Third Anniversary with Benefit Dinner for ASAP

Friday, May 13th, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NC – On Thursday, May 19, Posana Cafe will commemorate their third anniversary and include Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project in the celebration! They’re hosting a benefit dinner for our Growing Minds Farm to School Program, as they graciously have every year since first opening. The restaurant will offer a special Appalachian Grown Local Menu from 5-9 pm that is sure to please. Thanks to the contributions of farmers, if you order off of the special menu, we’ll receive 100% of the proceeds! Keep reading to find out which local farms and ingredients will be featured.

Posana is receiving generous donations from the following farms and partners:

East Fork Farm
Sunburst Trout
Hickory Nut Gap
Brasstown Beef
Three Graces Dairy
Looking Glass Creamery
Pisgah Brewing
Biltmore Estate Wines

Come Help Support Local Agriculture at the ‘Friends of Ag Breakfast’ – May 10th

Friday, April 29th, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NC – Are you someone who is involved in or supports local agriculture (farmers, food distributors, tailgate marketers, food processors, farm loan agencies, agricultural advocates, etc.?  Don’t miss the next Friends of Ag Breakfast on May 10.

A full breakfast of bacon, eggs, grits and biscuits, plus local jams and other local surprises will be served.  The speaker will be John Queen of the WNC Livestock Market.

Come out and join everyone at the WNC Ag Center at 7 a.m. to share a good meal and talk farming with your friends, neighbors, Commissioners, legislators, and others who support local agriculture.

Choose ‘N’ Cut Christmas Trees at Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

WAYNESVILLE/MAGGIE VALLEY, NC – Experience a wonderful family tradition of selecting your Fraser Fir Christmas tree while walking through the manicured fields choosing from acres of trees. You select the tree…we cut it, bale it and tie it on your vehicle…or you can use our bowsaws and cut the tree yourself! The farm offers cut trees from 5′ to 20′, and also balled and burlapped dug Fraser Fir trees, table top trees, wreaths of all sizes, garland, roping and the famous Answer Stand tree stand.

The Boyd Farm on Jonathan Creek in Haywood County, NC has been continuously in the Boyd family for over 100 years and continues now to be a Christmas tree farm with seven restored antique log cabin rentals that were moved to the farms 130 acres. The cabins are fully equipped offering 1,2,3, & 4 bedrooms open year-round. The first Fraser Fir tree was planted on the farm in 1984 and other seedlings have been planted each year afterwards. The Choose N Cut began in 1999 when there was a variety of tree sizes to offer the customers. Some of the large trees are 25 years old. Boyd Mountain Log Cabins and Christmas Tree Farm was featured in September 2010 Southern Living Magazine “Best Farm Stays in NC.”

Open Daily beginning Fri. November 19 until Wed. December 23 – 9-5pm.

Exit 20 off I-40 Waynesville/Maggie Valley, HWY 276.. then 3 miles to Hemphill Rd on right, then 1/10 mile to Boyd Farm Rd & follow to trees.

Paved access to the farm – Convenient Parking – Handicapped Parking and transportation provided to the field if needed.

Complimentary refreshments in a Heated Tent

Restrooms

Santa visits Nov 26, 27 & 28 – Dec 4 & 5.  10-4pm

Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm is a member of the NC Christmas Tree Association, Goodness Grows in NC, Appalachian Grown Certified Farm and also Haywood County Chamber of Commerce and the Asheville Buncombe County Chamber of Commerce.

Visit us at  www.boydmountainchristmastreefarm.com – Facebook – Boyd Mountain

email [email protected] or call 828-926-8888 – 828-506-3513

ASAP Posts Fall/Holiday Tailgate Market Schedule

Friday, October 29th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – It’s that time of year again when some area farmers tailgate markets wrap up their season. Don’t worry too much, though; many remain open into November and December for all of your holiday cooking and shopping needs! Select ‘Read more’ for details.

Final Market Dates (and Holiday Market Details)

BUNCOMBE COUNTY

Asheville City Market: South: October 27 (Produce, cheeses, meats, baked goods, plants, home goods, and more; 2-6 p.m.); Downtown: December 18 (Holiday markets November 27 and December 4, 11, and 18; holiday market hours will change from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
Big Ivy Tailgate Market: October 30
Black Mountain Tailgate Market: October 30 (Holiday market, 2nd annual, November 20; regular food vendors plus a wide variety of craft and artisan vendors for gift shopping. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
Greenlife Sunday Market: October 31
Mission Hospital Tailgate Market: October 1
North Asheville Tailgate Market: December 18 (The 9th Annual Holiday Bazaar will be held December 4, 11, and 18 at the North Asheville Tailgate Market. The market will feature produce, crafts, gifts, meats, cheeses, backed goods, chocolate, cider, coffee, and more.)
Riceville Tailgate Market: September 18
Victory Tailgate Market: September 29
Wednesday Co-op Market:  November 24
West Asheville Tailgate Market: November 9 (Holiday event Tuesday, December 7 from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.)
Weaverville Tailgate Market: October 27 (Season finale celebration; cookie decorating, scavenger hunt, and pumpkin decorating from 3-5:30 p.m. Costumes are optional but encouraged.)

HAYWOOD COUNTY

Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market: October 30 (Fall Harvest Party on October 30; details soon. Special winter markets November 20 and 24 and December 8 and 11 from 9 a.m. until noon; markets will offer fall and winter vegetables, apples and cider, farm-raised eggs, meat, cheese, NC seafood, baked goods, preserves, and heritage crafts.)

HENDERSON COUNTY

Flat Rock Tailgate Market: October 28 (Harvest Festival on Thursday, October 28 from 3-6 p.m; produce, homemade treats, handmade crafts, scarecrow making event, wool spinning demonstration, and petting zoo.)
Hendersonville Community Co-op Tailgate Market: October 18

MADISON COUNTY

Madison County Farmers & Artisans Market: November 20 (Special winter markets held inside at Fiddlestix the Saturday after Thanksgiving until the Saturday before Christmas.)

MCDOWELL COUN
TY

Historic Marion Tailgate Market: October 26
Information above is incomplete, and dates are subject to change; check back often for updates as markets determine closing dates and holiday market details. For a complete list of area tailgates and their contact information, click here.

Information provided by the Appalachian Sustainable Agricultural Project (ASAP)

Grove Park Showcases Local Artists and Farmers

Friday, October 15th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – The Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa is taking the farm to table concept to a new level with a series of dinners to showcase local famers and artists. Asheville Highlights, A Night for Local Flavors will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday October 28 at Grove Park Inn’s Blue Ridge Dining Room.  Chefs at the renowned, historic Inn will collaborate with neighboring farmers to create a dining experience highlighted by local food, wines and art.

The October dinner will feature fresh ingredients from Sunburst Trout Farms in Canton, and will showcase art from The River Arts District. Artists Constance Williams, Phillip Deangelo, Barbara Perez and Laurie McCarriar will be joined by well known local artist Michelle Suavee. The dinner will also feature the Blue Ridge Dining Rooms pastry chef.  Diners will be able to interact with the farmers and the artists, while enjoying a delicious four course dinner made with freshly picked ingredients. The Blue Ridge Dining Room Local Showcase dinners will be held on the last Thursday of each month except November.

For reservations and more information, please contact The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa at 800.438.0050 or 828.252.2711; visit www.groveparkinn.com, or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ewgrove and Facebook at www.facebook.com/groveparkinn.

Local Food Institute Almost Here, Registration Deadline Oct. 7

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – This year’s Local Food Institute will be held October 13 and 14 in Asheville, NC. Build your local food economy with the two-day program designed to share information about and strategies behind Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s (ASAP) innovative approach to creating environments where local food economies thrive. The cost of attendance is $300. You can register online by October 7th.</p>

The Program:

This two-day program is designed to share information about and strategies behind ASAP’s innovative approach to creating environments where local food economies thrive.

On Day One: Learn proven steps from ASAP and other community leaders and organizers through guided instruction, panel discussions, and networking.
On Day Two: Visit local farms and businesses that illustrate how entrepreneurs are successfully accessing local markets.

What You’ll Do:

– Learn from ASAP and other leading innovators through structured instruction.
– Examine specific aspects of the local food market and learn about initiatives that have helped farmers and local food entrepreneurs experience success.
– Interact with farmers, economic development specialists, farmers market planners, and community organizers.
– Apply what you have learned to your own work and area.

What You’ll Take Home:

– A solid understanding of and talking points on the benefits of developing your local food economy.
– Knowledge of the key resources, community assets, and partners needed in order to undertake local food initiatives.
– Resources to use in your community.
– Models for successful entrepreneurship.

Find a PDF of the tentative agenda here. For speaker bios, click here.

Cost and Registration:

The program runs from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on October 13th and 14th, and ASAP provides lunch both days. The cost of attendance is $300.

Click here to fill out a registration form, pay online, and find more information about sign-up. The registration deadline is October 7. If you have questions about the event or registration process, contact administrator Allison Perrett.

Directions and Accommodations:

This year’s Local Food Institute will take place in and around Asheville. Day one will be held downtown at Jubilee! Community. A central meeting location at the start of day two will be announced shortly.

WNC Farmers Market Celebrates Watermelon Day, July 16

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – Sweet, juicy melons – what could be better on a hot summer day?! Get a taste of fresh, locally grown watermelons at the Watermelon Day and enjoy a little family fun. Watermelon Day will take place at the WNC Farmers Market on July 16, 11-1pm.

Hosted by the WNC Farmers Market, the N.C. Watermelon Association, and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Watermelon Day has activities to bring out the kid in all of us.

There will be free watermelon slices for all and drawings for free watermelons and prizes. To round out the day’s events, there will be a watermelon seed-spitting contest and watermelon-eating contest for kids. And, if coaxed a little, the reigning N. C. Watermelon Queen will show how far she can spit a watermelon seed!