Quarterly Update
In This Issue:
New Resource Spotlight: A Guide to Hosting Food & Farm Business Training Programs at Community Colleges
Whole Crop Harvest Featured in Southern SARE Newsletter
Whole Crop Harvest Partners with AC Restaurants to Research Economics of Preserving Local Tomatoes for Year-Round Use
NC Farm to Early Care and Education Brings Together Children, Food, and Community
NCGT Building Connections with Small Business Centers to Support Growth of NC's Local Food Economy
Whole Crop Harvest Brings Together Supply Chain Partners for Grade 2 Produce
Engaging Videos Highlight the Local Seafood Supply Chain, Local Foods as Economic Development
CEFS Supply Chain Initiatives

Food and Farm Business Development Webinar Series

Missed a webinar in our series? No problem!  All webinars are available on our YouTube channel!

New Resource Spotlight

A Guide to Hosting Food & Farm Business Training Programs at Community Colleges

Small Business Centers (SBCs) in North Carolina have a unique ability to help farmers and food businesses create viable business plans to increase their share of the local food market. This guide supports the development of a series of workshops enabling local food and farming businesses to follow an agriculture-focused entrepreneurial curriculum with guidance from local experts. Participants finish the course with a complete business plan. 

Three Small Business Centers in North Carolina have launched food and farm business planning short courses. This guide shares their experiences, resources and recommendations.

For more information about NCGT's work with Small Business Centers, contact Laura Lauffer, NCGT Extension and Outreach Program Manager & Local Foods Extension Associate: 
lwlauffe@ncsu.edu .
NC Choices Featured on NC State Extension's Homegrown Video Series

NC Choices Program Director and Extension Educator Sarah Blacklin was featured on a recent video produced as part of NC State  Extension's 
Homegrown  video series.  

The video introduces various meat label claims and can be found here.  For more information about NC Choices, please visit the NC Choices website.

Whole Crop Harvest Featured in Southern SARE Newsletter

Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) featured Whole Crop Harvest in its April Common Ground newsletter. The story highlighted how the initiative is an expansion of a graduate student grant previously made to former CEFS Graduate Fellow Dr. Lisa Johnson and provides links to her on-farm food loss measurement tools including an NC Cooperative Extension publication and two short videos (linked here and here).
July 25, 2018


Welcome to CEFS' Supply Chain Initiatives Newsletter. This newsletter builds on the monthly newsletter that has chronicled the work of the USDA-funded NC Growing Together project since 2013.  Going forward, we will report on supply chain networking, capacity building, and the research and extension work of all of CEFS' supply chain and business development initiatives.  Enjoy!


Rebecca Dunning, Ph.D.

Lead, Supply Chain Initiatives, Center for Environmental Farming Systems

Research Assistant Professor, NC State University Department of Horticultural Science

Whole Crop Harvest Partners with Ashley Christensen's AC Restaurants to Research Economics of Preserving Seasonal Local Tomatoes for Year-Round Use

North Carolina is lucky to have a long growing season, but even with season extension techniques, tomatoes can't be grown profitably year-round. For restaurants that want to source all of their tomatoes locally, that presents a challenge. A different challenge is faced by farmers, who, when faced with a seasonal glut of tomatoes, have to find markets for a highly-perishable product that does not ship well. When markets cannot be found, a potentially profitable product is left in the field.

Enter Whole Crop Harvest (WCH). When the SARE-funded project began in 2017, Program Director Rebecca Dunning reached out to Juan Esparaza, Commissary Director for Ashley Christensen's AC Restaurants, to see if it would make economic sense for the restaurant group to source all of their tomatoes locally in-season and preserve them for year-round use. Dunning recruited a team of senior undergraduate business students from NC State's Poole College of Management to investigate the issue.

The team created a cost model to examine the effectiveness of purchasing, preserving, and storing the tomatoes for year-round use. They found that purchasing 100% North Carolina tomatoes in season reduces the restaurant group's cost by nearly half, accomplishes the goal of sourcing exclusively local tomatoes, and will likely reduce on-farm food loss.

The cost model is adaptable to plug in other products as well, says Esparza. "It's extraordinary. It helps us realize that when we have our ducks in a row we could knock out 9-10 months' worth of a crop in 2-3 months, and save money doing it," he says. "It most definitely will be a tool that we'll use to utilize space and labor efficiently and save money."

Visit the  NCGT website  for the students' analysis, and the Whole Crop Harvest website for information about the project.

NC Farm to Early Care and Education Brings Together Children, Food, and Community

CEFS' Farm to Early Care and Education (NC Farm to ECE) Initiative is partnering with state- and local-level childcare experts to lead Farm to ECE efforts in North Carolina. The initiative is working with cross-sector stakeholder groups to develop local food procurement systems, connect resources and people across food and early childhood education systems, and provide children with experiential ways to engage with food. ( This video does a great job of explaining how the initiative engages and convenes different stakeholders across the state!)

"Through this initiative we are networking early childhood and food system folks together to provide local, fresh food into centers' meals and snacks. We are developing models and learning from them, sharing best practices for linking farmers and child care centers for the health of our kids, families, and communities," said Caroline Stover, Program Director of the NC Farm to ECE Initiative.

Part of NC Farm to ECE's work is to support children's understanding of where their food comes from, including who grew it. In collaboration with early educators, the initiative created a series of eye-catching posters for young children that portray farmers and the vegetables they grow for their community - specifically highlighting women farmers and farmers of color. The posters are now hanging in childcare centers around North Carolina to serve as learning materials for our youngest eaters.

For more information about the NC Farm to Early Care and Education Initiative, please visit the CEFS website.

NCGT Building Connections with Small Business Centers to Support Growth of Local Food Economy in North Carolina

NC Growing Together is catalyzing ties between food and farm businesses, educators, Cooperative Extension staff, and Small Business Centers (SBC) across the state to build business support and education for a thriving local food economy. On July 12, SBC directors, Extension staff, and educators from the Sustainable Agriculture Program at Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) met at Tenita Solanto's Green Panda Farms microgreens business in Siler City.

"There are hundreds of underutilized buildings in the Sanford, NC area, and farmers who are seeking to diversify to the 'next big thing,'" says Terri Brown, SBC Director in Lee County. "I wanted to visit Tenita's site to explore her model and see if a new training program could be developed on this model of indoor production."

Tenita is a retired Navy veteran eager to promote the health benefits of eating microgreens. In addition to growing custom microgreen mixes for her clients, her current markets include the Raleigh Midtown Farmer's market, individual subscription holders, and the Durham Co-op Market. Tenita met Leila Wolfrum, Durham Co-op Market's General Manager, at NCGT's Grower-Buyer Event held each year at CFSA's Sustainable Agriculture Conference. She was just getting started and Leila's advice and support helped her launch her business. Tenita conducts in-store tastings at the Co-op, building awareness of her products and evaluating consumer response to new microgreen products, as well as a new line of salad dressings.

Tenita's two-year old startup also provides an instructive case study for potential entrepreneurs. "I will be bringing my students to this site," noted CCCC's director of Sustainable Agriculture, Robin Kohanowich. "It's good for them to hear entrepreneurial start up stories, and to think outside the box."

For more information on NCGT's work with Small Business Centers and Community Colleges, or to request assistance setting up local meetings, contact Laura Lauffer, NCGT Extension and Outreach Program Manager & Local Foods Extension Associate: lwlauffe@ncsu.edu.

Whole Crop Harvest Brings Together Supply Chain Partners for Grade 2 Produce

Whole Crop Harvest (WCH) is bringing together partners from across the supply chain to reduce on-farm produce loss and increase farmer profitability. This summer, the initiative is working with Eastern Carolina Organics (ECO) and Bon Appétit Management Company at the SAS Institute on a pilot project to market "Grade 2" produce, sometimes known as "ugly" produce. This is produce that is edible and nutritious but, for cosmetic reasons (size, shape, surface scarring) fails to meet the USDA's Grade 1 standard, which is a requirement of most retail and food service buyers. Finding markets for Grade 2 produce has been identified as a step towards reducing on-farm food loss, increasing farmer profitability, and enhancing the overall sustainability of our food system.

"ECO is a mission-based company, we're a B-Corporation, so anything we can do to increase farmer access to as many markets as possible and eliminate food loss, we'll do," says Bridgette Thurston, ECO's Sales and Marketing Manager. The company was already looking for ways to market Grade 2 produce when WCH Project Director Rebecca Dunning proposed a summer pilot program with Bryan Little, Executive Chef of the SAS Atrium Café. It was an obvious fit. In 1999, Bon Appétit was the first foodservice company to require their chefs to purchase 20% of their food from within 150 miles (500 miles for seafood) of their kitchens.

The pilot, which wrapped up its first month in June, offered Little a way to plan his menus around available Grade 2 produce. Availability lists were sent out each Friday for the following week's deliveries. "I'm a big believer in supporting local community," says Little, who had previously worked on farms and says he "knows the hardship" of farming. He was already purchasing local produce, meat, and dairy, and welcomed the chance to add Grade 2 produce to the list. Bon Appétit has a Grade 2 purchasing initiative called "Imperfectly Delicious Produce (IDP)", but most IDP produce is from California. "I wanted more local options," he says. Feedback will be collected after the pilot, and if deemed successful, become a regular ECO offering to all its customers.

Another benefit of Grade 2 produce is that, because of its imperfections, it is sold at a lower price point - potentially making local, organic produce more affordable. "We hope to bring on new customers to participate in our Grade 2 program. Healthy fresh produce should be accessible to everyone," says Thurston.

"No farmer likes leaving produce in the field or the packing shed," says Dunning. "If we can help make the seconds marketable for the farmer, everybody wins."

For more information on Whole Crop Harvest, contact Rebecca Dunning: rddunnin@ncsu.edu.

Engaging Videos Highlight the Local Seafood Supply Chain, Local Foods as Economic Development

NC Growing Together has partnered with the NC 10% Campaign and Vittles Films to produce videos about local foods.

What Can Be
What Can Be

What Can Be:  For many rural communities it can be hard to see opportunities for growth, or even stability, in the wake of steady economic decline and the exodus of big industries. Carla Norwood and Gabe Cummings believe plenty of opportunity exists where it always has: in the landscape and people that surround them. Their rural-based nonprofit, Working Landscapes, has nurtured a local food system and a regional supply network that has proven sustainable over the past five years. What Can Be examines their economic redevelopment project in detail, the public and private partners involved and how their model could be replicated to develop complementary processing facilities and opportunities for economic resilience in other rural communities.

What Can Be was shown at a series of three Innovations in Economic Development through Local Foods events across the state in Fall 2017, in addition to its premiere in Warrenton, North Carolina and a screening at Community Food Strategies' Statewide Food Gathering in November 2017. It has also been accepted for a screening at the NC American Planning Association's September 2018 meeting where it will be followed by a discussion panel featuring the film's participants. "The film shows the opportunity to support a regional food economy through efficient delivery routes and dynamic processing facilities," says Laura Lauffer,  NCGT Extension and Outreach Program Manager.

UGLY & WILD: Learning To Love N.C. Fish
UGLY & WILD: Learning To Love N.C. Fish

Ugly & Wild: Learning to Love N.C. Fish:  Even though your mama said, "there are many fish in the sea," we often seek out what we already know. Locals Seafood is an inland fish house in Raleigh, North Carolina, that believes love awaits those who are willing to take a chance with the lesser-known, but ultra fresh, bounty caught off their coast. Over the last decade nearly 40% of N.C. fish houses have closed due to increasing demand for imported seafood; which is familiar and cheap, but from obscure sources using unknown practices. UGLY & WILD explores how Locals Seafood is creating new connections with venerable coastal fishing families to bring one of the state's last wild foods to a dinner plate near you. After all, true beauty is fried on the inside.

Ugly & Wild has been shown at seven screenings - including universities, restaurants, a food co-op, and the NC Catch Summit - attended by over 300 people. " The goals of these events were to increase markets for North Carolina's fishers by increasing consumer familiarity with underutilized species and also by increasing the willingness of consumers as well as Dining Services to seek out North Carolina-caught seafood and to source a greater variety of species," says Robyn Stout, Statewide Coordinator of the NC 10% Campaign.

Visit the NC 10% Campaign's website for screening toolkits, talking points, and other resources.
Center for Environmental Farming Systems Supply Chain Initiatives Contacts

NC Choices:
Sarah Blacklin | Program Director |  sarah@ncchoices.com  |  919-928-4771  

NC Farm to Early Care and Education:
Caroline Stover | Program Director |  cmstover@ncsu.edu | 336-287-1620

NC Growing Together: 
Rebecca Dunning | Program Director |  rebecca_dunning@ncsu.edu |  919-389-2220

University Food Systems (UFOODS): 
Rebecca Dunning | Program Director |  rebecca_dunning@ncsu.edu |  919-389-2220

Whole Crop Harvest:
Rebecca Dunning | Program Director |  rebecca_dunning@ncsu.edu |  919-389-2220


Center for Environmental Farming Systems Director, NC State:
Nancy Creamernancy_creamer@ncsu.edu | 919-515-9447

CEFS Communications and Website Manager:
JJ Richardson jj_richardson@ncsu.edu |  919-889-8219 

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