NC Choices, an initiative of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems in collaboration with NC Cooperative Extension, promotes sustainable food systems through the advancement of the local, niche, and pasture-based meat supply chains in North Carolina.
NC Choices uses the term “niche meat” to describe pasture-raised meats raised without routine use of antibiotics or added hormones by farmers and allied businesses who are connected to their meat products either through direct sales, wholesale, or by selling to an independent branded company.
NC Choices Program Director
Sarah Blacklin is a NC Cooperative Extension educator and Program Director at NC Choices, a program of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems. Sarah helps small farmers in NC maximize direct and wholesale marketing efforts to enhance profitability. She deals directly with livestock farms and local meat businesses along the entire local meat supply chain including commercial meat processors, restaurants and butcher shops, regulatory agents and various allied businesses.
Sarah’s work of extending educational programming, networking opportunities and technical training to sustainable food businesses has gained attention on the local and national scale and in 2016 Sarah was honored among the “top 100 national agricultural leaders shaping rural America” by National Farm Credit. Among other activities, Sarah serves on the board of the National Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network. Before working with meat, Sarah served as Market Manager for the Carrboro Farmers’ Market for 5 years, originally getting her start as a farmhand for local farmers.
NC Choices Program Coordinator
Sheila Neal is the Project Coordinator at NC Choices where she coordinates programming, develops resources, and nurtures networking among all stakeholders in the pastured meat supply chain.
Sheila has played a role in the planning and organizing of NC Choices’ popular, nationally recognized conferences, Women Working in the Meat Business and the Carolina Meat Conference as well as our pasture-based production workshops.
Before Sheila joined the NC Choices team, she could be found busing, waiting, bartending, hosting, managing, cooking, and owning small, independently owned restaurants committed to sourcing local food.