Buncombe commissioners consider local and organic food initiatives to help the economy

Local and organic farmers got a boost today at the Buncombe County commissioners’ annual retreat, as commissioners took in a presentation underlining how a “buy local” initiative could help the economy.

Xpress reporter David Forbes is covering the commissioners’ retreat for a later report, and is also tweeting highlights as they occur. The following are his tweets about the commissioners’ local-farming deliberations:

• County is considering ways to aid local agriculture, including ads, seasonal “subscriptions” with local farmers.
• Less than 1% of food consumed in Buncombe is local, according to Cooperative Extension stats.
• If every WNC household spent $11 on local food, it would bring $36.5 million to the local economy; it would bring $452 million if supply were sufficient to met existing demand.
• Cooperative extension and the county are considering local hops as a possible “cash crop,” given number of local breweries.
• Commissioner Holly Jones says she is “open to ways we can invest dollars” in local agriculture. “It’s about sustainable living, preserving a sense of place.”
• Chair David Gantt: “We don’t want to tell farmers what to do, but to help them share info,” tout products.
• Gantt also mentions possibility of county playing role in certifying local food.
Jones: “Buncombe one of top losers of farmland in the state over last 10 yrs. We’ve got to do a lot, not just one silver bullet.”

The all-day meeting goes until 4 p.m., at 30 Valley St. It’s open to the public.


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About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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2 thoughts on “Buncombe commissioners consider local and organic food initiatives to help the economy

  1. ashevillelokel

    Shouldn’t the Chamber of “Commerce” do this sort of thing …. I think the commish has enough on its’ plate: unreliable garbage service, an aged infrastructure in desperate need of an overhaul, zoning issues, a “budget” that is seriously in the red, etc.

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