Corrected NCGT logo
NCGT Monthly Project Update
In This Issue
NCGT Partner FreshPoint to Host Information Sessions for Local Growers
Upcoming Workshops: Season Extension with High Tunnels and Good Agricultural Practices
New Resource Spotlight: Financial and Business Resources for Food Entrepreneurs and Farms in North Carolina
NCGT Supports Pastured Meat Business Development in North Carolina
Supply Chain Collaboration Brings NC-Branded Shrimp Home for the Holidays
NCGT Partner FreshPoint to Host Information Sessions for Local Growers

FreshPoint, the largest foodservice distributor of fresh produce in the country, has been an NC Growing Together partner since 2015.  The distributor has hosted a NC Growing Together Summer Local Food Supply Chain Apprentice, partnered with NCGT to offer Postharvest Handling workshops, and attended NCGT Buyer-Grower Connection Events.  Now, FreshPoint, in partnership with NCGT and NC Cooperative Extension, is hosting tours and information sessions in Raleigh and Charlotte for interested growers.

The sessions - February 23 in Charlotte and February 21 in Raleigh - will give producers the chance to meet face-to-face with buyers and learn about FreshPoint's desire to partner with local growers. Farmers will have time to talk in group and individual settings with staff, tour the warehouse, and learn about FreshPoint's "Unusual but Usable" program which buys and markets seconds.

For more information about the Charlotte and Raleigh information sessions, please contact Laura Lauffer, Program Coordinator, Local Farms and Food, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University/NC Growing Together Project at 336-285-4690 or

Download Information Session fliers: Charlotte | Raleigh 

Upcoming Workshops

Season Extension with High Tunnels

February 8, 2017  | Jacksonville, NC 

March 27, 2017   | Concord, NC  
March 28, 2017 |  Greensboro, NC
For more information on these season extension workshops, please visit the CEFS website.
Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)
March 10, 2017 | Charlotte, NC
March 16, 2017 | Greenville, NC
March 21, 2017 | Durham , NC
May 16, 2017 | Vance County, NC
For more information on these GAPs workshops, please visit the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association website.  Information will be posted shortly!
New Resource Spotlight: Financial and Business Resources for Food Entrepreneurs and Farms in North Carolina

This guide was designed for producers, food businesses, and small business assistance providers. It provides an overview of financial assistance, technical assistance, and business planning resources available in North Carolina from state, federal and local agencies and non-profits.

Download the guide  here .

 About NCGT
GOAL | Bring more locally-grown foods - produce, meat, dairy, and seafood - into mainstream retail and food service supply chains, thus enhancing food security by increasing access to local foods and by strengthening the economics of small to mid-sized farm and fishing operations.
STRATEGY | Identify the most promising solutions by which local production and associated value-added activities can enter local retail and food service markets, pilot these solutions in North Carolina, and evaluate and report the results for the benefit of other states and regions.
January 25, 2017
Greetings all,  

Happy New Year! Thanks for reading our monthly newsletter and please let us know what you think.


The NCGT Management Team

NC Growing Together Supports Pastured Meat Business Development in North Carolina

Visiting with Buron Lanier of Piney Woods Farm. 

NC Growing Together partners with NC Choices to build pastured meat supply chains in North Carolina.  The two CEFS initiatives conducted the 2013 and 2016 NC Niche Meat Producer Surveys to gather information to describe and measure the value of this growing industry; created user-friendly infographics that break down the total and per-pound cost of producing pastured poultry and pork; and are providing business and marketing assistance and workshops for livestock producers and meat retailers.

For the 2016 Niche Meat Producers survey, an NC Growing Together Local Food Supply Chain Apprentice called every North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services-registered meat handler up to three times over a period of 5 months.  Information from 253 respondents in 76 counties paints a picture of pastured meat production across the state.

"Out of all the farmers surveyed, 93% felt that meat sales made a positive impact on their business.  Plus, with 70% reporting that they experienced more demand for their niche meat products now as compared to 2013, we don't think we've hit the ceiling yet when it comes to consumer demand," said Sarah Blacklin, NC Choices Program Director.  The number of registered meat handlers in North Carolina has increased from 180 in 2008 to 934 at the time of the survey.

The 2016 Niche Meat Producers Survey, also supported by Golden Leaf Foundation, was a follow-up to NC Growing Together and NC Choices' 2013 survey

Creation of the Breaking Down the Cost of Pastured Chicken and Breaking Down the Cost of Pastured Pork infographics was also supported by funds from the Golden Leaf Foundation as well as livestock budget information from NC Farm School organizers Gary Bullen and Derek Washburn.  The infographics serve a dual purpose: producers can access the NC Farm School budgets the infographics are based upon and input their own numbers, using them as a business-planning tool; and the infographics can also be used as a marketing tool with customers and buyers to help explain the complex reasons why pastured meats costs more in the marketplace.

In December, NCGT and NC Choices staff visited Ron Simmons of Master Blend Farm in Kenansville and Buron Lanier of Piney Woods Farm  in Burgaw to learn more about their business plans and growth needs.  The NCGT/NC Choices team plans to work with 10 producers and retailers in the upcoming months as part of a Golden Leaf Foundation-funded project.

Save the Date!  NC Growing Together will be a sponsor of NC Choices' 5th Carolina Meat Conference, September 25-26 in Winston-Salem, NC.  For more information, visit .

Supply Chain Collaboration Brings NC-Branded Shrimp Home for the Holidays
Photo courtesy of Mr. Big Seafood.

This past holiday season, shoppers were in for a special treat when they found frozen North Carolina shrimp at area Weaver Street Market (WSM) stores, just in time for end-of-year celebrations.  The shrimp - the result of a local supply chain collaboration between Weaver Street Market, Mr. Big Seafood , and Seal the Seasons - features NC Catch's new label designating it as locally-caught product.

NC Growing Together supported the development of the NC Catch freezer labels and two NC Catch " retail market guides" - brochures that help consumers find fresh North Carolina seafood markets across the state.  The brochures have been particularly popular in coastal visitors' centers and at the NC State Fair.

"We didn't start out as a branding organization," says NC Catch's Executive Director Ann Simpson. The non-profit, which was founded in 2011 mainly to promote consumer education about the benefits of buying North Carolina's locally caught seafood, has dramatically increased its branding efforts for North Carolina-caught fish and seafood with NCGT support.  "NCGT's support has been invaluable to NC Catch.  We would have been much slower to look at the marketing and branding piece without NCGT's help."  

Branding a product as North Carolina-caught is especially important, Simpson says, given the amount of seafood that is imported but not labelled as such.  "Consumers don't always know when seafood is imported, especially if it is frozen," she says.  "With this label people can easily identify local product, and that's important to many consumers."

NCGT also funded a 2016 Summer Local Food Supply Chain Apprentice, Gigi Lytton, who worked with Simpson at NC Catch and with John Aydlett, Seafood/Aquaculture Marketing Specialist at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS), to update NCDA&CS's Seafood Directory.  NCGT will be funding a 2017 Summer Apprentice at NC Catch who will work on further developing NC Catch's marketing efforts, including developing profiles of fishermen and others in the local seafood supply chain for their website and other communication tools.

For the holiday shrimp sale, Mr. Big Seafood of Harkers Island sold over 4,000 pounds of locally-caught fresh shrimp to the local cooperative grocery chain Weaver Street Market, which partnered with Hillsborough, NC-based processor Seal the Seasons to have it frozen using their "IQF" (Individual Quick Freezing) equipment.  IQF freezes each individual shrimp, rather than creating a solid frozen block, so that consumers can easily portion off how much to thaw and cook. 
"This example of collaboration illustrates some of the key elements that make a local food supply chain work," says NCGT Project Manager and food systems researcher Dr. Rebecca Dunning.  "The NC Catch label signifies to consumers that the product truly originates from NC fishermen, thus differentiating it from competitors.  The availability of scale-appropriate infrastructure, in this case the IQF equipment housed at the Piedmont Food and Agriculture Processing Center in Hillsborough, made it feasible to transform a highly perishable fresh product into a freezer-stable and consumer-ready product."

"Consumers definitely want local seafood," confirms Carolyn Twesten, Produce and Meat Merchandiser for Weaver Street Market.  "They really want fresh seafood, and local is the freshest."  According to Twesten, Weaver Street Market had doubled fresh and IQF local shrimp sales in 2016 over 2015 - even before the year-end deal - and hopes to double sales again in 2017. 

"Local seafood is a wonderful, healthy resource from the coast that provides a great business opportunity for folks," says Alison Willis of Mr. Big Seafood.  "The importance of the NC Catch label is huge.  We as fishermen and wholesalers can label North Carolina products and consumers can learn about where their seafood comes from, the story behind who caught it."  Ann Simpson of NC Catch sums it up when she says, "We love it when we can find partners like NCGT and put our expertise, funding, and energy together towards projects that really meet both our goals."

NCGT is one of this year's sponsors of the 6 th Annual NC Catch Summit, March 13 & 14 in Nags Head, NC.  The conference is geared towards making supply chain connections between fishermen and other seafood suppliers, chefs, restaurants, and other buyers.  Registration is now open - visit NC Catch's website for more information.

Project Contact Information

Nancy Creamer,  Co-Director of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, NC State University; and Project Director, NC Growing Together, , 919-515-9447

Rebecca Dunning, NCGT Project Manager,, 919-389-2220

Emily Edmonds, NCGT Extension and Outreach Program Manager,, 828-399-0297
Laura Lauffer , Project Coordinator, Local Farms and Food, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Cooperative Extension Program , 336-285-4690  

JJ Richardson, NCGT Website and Communications Coordinator,, 919-889-8219 

This project 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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© 2013-2017 NC Growing Together