Corrected NCGT logo
NCGT Monthly Project Update
In This Issue:
Upcoming Events
NCGT and Natural Capital Investment Fund Partner to Make On-Farm Cold Storage an Option for Small and Mid-Scale Farmers
Events for Local Government Officials Highlight Economic Development Potential of Local Food and Farm Businesses
NCGT Apprentices Have Real World Impact at Seal the Seasons
Upcoming Events

For more information about the Food and Farm Business Development Webinar Series, please visit the NCGT website.

Grower-Buyer Meet-Up at CFSA's Sustainable Agriculture Conference

Join CFSA and NCGT for an opportunity to connect growers with buyers who are interested in sourcing local foods. The facilitated speed-meeting format will ensure instant connections!

November 3, 2017
Durham, NC 

Free - you do not need to be registered for the conference to attend.  For more information please visit the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association website.


Good Agricultural Practices (GAP): Navigating the USDA GAP Audit One-Day Workshops 

November 7, 2017 Carteret County, NC 

For more information about GAP workshops, please visit the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association website.

 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.
October 24, 2017
Greetings all,

Thanks for reading our monthly newsletter and please let us know what you think.


The NCGT Management Team

NCGT and Natural Capital Investment Fund Partner to Make On-Farm Cold Storage an Option for Small and Mid-Scale Farmers

NC Growing Together and the
Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF) are working together to address a challenge for small and medium-scale farmers: lack of access to on-farm cold storage. The ability to quickly cool produce to the appropriate temperature is critical to achieving high product quality and maximizing shelf life.  (For more NCGT information and resources on postharvest handling, please see the NCGT website .) For farmers seeking to expand their businesses or sell into wholesale markets, it can be the key to success.
"Growers and buyers agree that on-farm cold storage is a necessity to sell into mainstream markets like grocery retail and food service," says NCGT Project Manager Rebecca Dunning. "Having cold storage can mean getting in the door to a new buyer, and having a longer shelf-life for your product is positive regardless of where a grower sells."
Cold storage at TRACTOR Food and Farms.
Even though on-farm cold storage is critical, many farmers lack the capital to build or purchase a unit, and it can be difficult to get a loan because financers don't want to use a cold-storage unit as collateral.  Through NCGT and NCIF's partnership, farmers can now apply for funds to build or purchase a unit, with 20% of the total subsidized by a grant from NCGT and the remaining 80% financed through a low-interest loan from NCIF.  For more information please see this two-pager.
NCIF, the green business lending arm of The Conservation Fund, finances and advises rural and natural resource-based small businesses that can't access traditional capital sources.  Supporting local food systems and low-resource farmers are strategic priorities for NCIF, meaning the Fund offers both financing as well as targeted grants and technical assistance to help the sector grow.
"We're committed to helping farmers diversify their production and participate in North Carolina's local food system and all the opportunities that presents.  Cold storage is critical to bringing high value products to market," says Rick Larson, Senior Vice President and Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Natural Capital Investment Fund.  "In our work, partnering is critical, and we really value the deep knowledge about local food systems and farmers' needs that NCGT brings.  NCGT's training and dedicated grant funding for cold storage are the key to making this program succeed."
NCGT's cold storage resources include the Best Practices for On-Farm Cold Storage technical assistance training webinar and the On-Farm Infrastructure Toolkit (co-developed with the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association). 
Applications will be considered for produce, meat, and value-added cooling and storage uses.  Download the application here.  

For general inquiries or to get started, please contact T.F. Congleton, NCIF's Eastern NC Business Lender at (252) 916-5211 or; Rick Larson, NCIF's Senior Vice President at (919) 951-0113 or; or NCGT Project Manager Rebecca Dunning, 919-389-2220

Events for Local Government Officials Highlight Economic Development Potential of Local Food and Farm Businesses

NC Growing Together's Local Food Economies project engages local and regional governments in the work of building local food systems.  In September, Local Food Economies and the NC 10% Campaign organized three Innovations in Economic Development through Local Foods gatherings to showcase investments that local and regional governments can make to support small and mid-scale food and farming businesses.  These events were attended by officials from over 46 local, regional, and state government agencies in 89 of North Carolina's 100 counties.

"The goal of these events was to inform decision-makers and planners in local and regional government about how local agriculture is successful as an economic development driver," said Laura Lauffer, Project Coordinator, Local Farms and Food, N.C. A&T State University Cooperative Extension Program and NC Growing Together. 

Each of the filled-to-capacity events - held in Waynesville, Ellerbe, and Henderson - highlighted successful examples from around the state of local governments supporting local food and farm businesses.  There were networking opportunities with representatives from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the North Carolina Rural Center, North Carolina Department of Commerce Rural Planning Division, and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.  The American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) offered Certification Maintenance credits to its members who attended.

Local Food Economies' outreach has helped bring food and farm business development to the economic development agendas of North Carolina's county and municipal governments.  Nine of the sixteen regional Councils of Government now include agricultural economic development as a goal of their comprehensive plans.

Don Belk, a Community Economic Development Planner with the Rural Economic Development Division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce, attended the gathering at Vance-Granville Community College in Henderson.  "This was a great networking experience for me.  As the planner for North Carolina's 'North Central Prosperity Zone', this introduced me to the dedicated individuals and innovative efforts going on in the area," he said.

"One of the more interesting things I learned was that we as a state are still struggling to build the local foods 'infrastructure' needed to really expand opportunities for farmers and greater, economical food options for citizens.  Here is where regional collaboration is vital.  We need to look at the local food infrastructure and the agricultural capacity of the land at the regional scale to determine what is needed," he added.

All of the presentations from the Innovations in Economic Development events can be found on YouTube, here.  

NCGT and Local Food Economies has created a suite of resources to support local government engagement in local food systems development.  Visit the Local Food Economies website for County Agriculture Infographics , Local Food Economic Development Videos , and A Government Guide on Building Local Food Economies.  The new GIS version of NCGT's Local Food Infrastructure Inventory Map can be found here .  

The response to the gatherings was so positive that the LFE team is exploring additional regional events.  Contact Emily Edmonds for more information on outreach and events in western NC (west of I-77) and Laura Lauffer for areas in the Piedmont and Eastern NC (east of I-77).

NCGT Apprentices Have Real World Impact at Seal the Seasons

When Claire McLendon accepted NC Growing Together's  summer Local Food Supply Chain Apprenticeship in 2016, she had no idea it would actually lead to a two-summer apprenticeship and then a full-time job.  McLendon, then a Master's student at the University of North Carolina's Gillings School of Global Public Health, was placed with Working Landscapes and Farmer Foodshare to examine processing and distribution from Working Landscape's Chopped Produce Initiative through Farmer Foodshare's distribution hub and into institutional markets. (See Claire's final presentation here .)

Then, in 2017, a unique opportunity arose with NCGT partner Seal the Seasons: a second-year "Senior Apprentice" position in which she would work with Ali Huber, a first-year NCGT Apprentice, to conduct Seal the Seasons' first formal evaluation of their work.  Based in Hillsborough NC, Seal the Seasons' mission is "to make local food available year round for all people".  The company purchases local produce in season from family farmers and flash freezes it for year-round consumption.  Their products - including blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, peaches, and broccoli - can be found in the frozen aisle of retail grocery stores including Lowes Foods and Harris Teeter.

"Seal the Seasons has been pioneering the local frozen supply chain model with local family farmers, and being successful for us means making sure it works for everyone in the supply chain.   We wanted to evaluate our work from the farmers' perspective to learn how to improve our business for everyone," says Patrick Mateer, Seal the Seasons' Founder and Chief Executive Officer. 

Claire and Ali spent the summer driving across North Carolina - they put 3,000 miles on Claire's car - and interviewed 20 of the 25 farmers who currently supply Seal the Seasons.  Their interviews yielded valuable results, including feedback on ways the company could improve its communications and logistics (see Claire and Ali's final presentation here ). "Having Claire and Ali conduct this evaluation will help us continue lifetime partnerships with our farms.  We're a young company and evaluation is critical," says Mateer.

For Claire, the work was deepened by her understanding of the health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption. "I wrote about half of my graduate student research papers on how important it is to consume enough fruits and vegetables.  The research is really strong there, that that's a key part of improving peoples' health outcomes. And yet growing and transporting fruits and vegetables is a tricky, resource-intensive business. So I think that continuing to bring data-driven, evaluation-driven work to building out local food supply chains is critical," she says.

The work also lead to Mateer's realization that he needed to add a full-time farmer liaison to his team.  Claire now holds that new position, Director of Farm Development.  The position serves as the first point of contact for farmers and coordinates communications and logistics for the company.  "In a competitive market, it can be difficult to dedicate resources to working with small farmers when you could just buy in quantity from big farmers. Having Claire able to work full-time during the summer confirmed my belief that it was a wise business move to create this full-time position," Mateer says.

NCGT is currently recruiting business and non-profit mentors for its 2018 Local Supply Chain Summer Apprenticeship. For more information, contact NCGT Project Manager Rebecca Dunning, 919-389-2220 or
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