A late June report from the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association found that 77% of growers reliant on agritourism had seen reduced income since the start of COVID-19. But as the pandemic continues, Western North Carolina’s farms are finding safe, creative ways to share the agricultural experience with visitors.
With farmers losing access to customers and many people facing food insecurity during pandemic, the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project offers a solution.
The region’s small farms have been rocked by the coronavirus, but community support and innovative thinking have enabled many local growers to pivot and persist as they work to find a way forward.
The okra selected for the 2020 project, Aunt Hettie’s Red, boasts both regional roots and modern acclaim. Last September, the variety was crowned the best of 54 in “The Single Biggest Chef-Centered Okra Tasting Day Ever” contest staged by the Utopian Seed Project.
At an April 21 meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners lent their unanimous support to designating 16,000 acres of the Pisgah National Forest in the county’s northeast as the Craggy Mountain Wilderness and National Scenic Area. And on April 28, Duke Energy unveiled the most detailed public explanation to date of how company leaders are thinking about the longer-term future.
“When we purchase more like 10% of what we collectively eat [in the place] where we live, we will be on our way to building a more sustainable, regenerative and resilient system, which will be a viable alternative to global and industrial practices.”
For our nonprofit special issue, Mountain Xpress took a look at a spectrum of local nonprofits that have recently experienced significant changes or are in the midst of transformative shifts in management or focus. We also checked in on some of the largest grant funding awards our region has seen this year.
“Sourcing more of our food locally would simultaneously boost the region’s economic stability, food security and health.”
While each tailgate market serves its own area and demographic, they all adhere to roughly the same model, policies and procedures, the logistics of which begin well before opening day and continue through the season.
In April, Cane Creek Valley Farm in Fletcher will open two of its organic fields to the community through a new garden-share program that’s aimed at bolstering the small, family-owned operation against the damaging effects of weather events.
Many area growers rely on holiday sales of their food products and handicrafts to help carry their businesses through the winter season.
Despite the unique set of challenges it presents, WNC women are increasingly looking to agriculture as a business option.
Nonprofits are often judged by their overhead ratio, the percentage of their total expenses made up by administrative and fundraising costs. But as Jeanette Butterworth with WNC Nonprofit Pathways, is quick to point out, organizations need funding to spend their funds well.
Asheville-area initiatives are seeking to connect food-insecure communities with fresh, locally grown food while also supporting WNC farmers.
Despite tight budgets and bureaucratic hurdles, school nutrition directors are accessing more locally grown foods for area students.
The growing network of relationships that comprises WNC’s local food system is far more complex than just farmer and buyer.
For its 25th anniversary Spring Conference, Organic Growers School looks to bring in the wisdom of people of color to talk about race-related issues in farming and the food system.
Growing vegetables in limited daylight and freezing temperatures is no picnic. But Asheville-area winter markets feature a surprising selection of fresh, locally grown produce, thanks to savvy farmers.
The application period for the Farm Beginnings program of the Organic Growers School is open through Sept. 1. New farmers participating in the program receive more than 200 hours of training time. For the first time this year, the training will include at least 15 hours of one-on-one mentorship from an experienced farmer.
Mills River native Bradley Johnston has worked with cows all his life, but his newest venture — Mills River Creamery — is a departure from the high-volume wholesale dairy trade he used to practice. Johnston’s small herd of Jersey cows eat non-GMO feed and produce a type of milk that many find easier to digest than the usual supermarket fare.
Pack up your car with friends and family this Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25, and head out on Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s annual Farm Tour, an opportunity to get up close and personal with more than 20 WNC farms and the farmers growing your food and fiber.