Greetings from the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS). We hope this letter finds you well, as another busy year winds down for all of us. As we write this, we are preparing to celebrate a very meaningful milestone here at CEFS: our 20th Anniversary.
As CEFS has grown from a 2000-acre research farm into one of the nation’s most recognized centers for the study and promotion of sustainable agriculture and local foods systems, CEFS’ work has grown as well. From our initial focus on sustainable production systems, we have expanded to include Community-Based Food Systems, Youth and Educational Programs, Supply Chain and Business Development, Consumer Outreach, and more.
Please support our programs and initiatives by making a donation today. Mail in your contribution using the enclosed reply form and envelope, or donate securely online at go.ncsu.edu/friendsofcefs. The Center for Environmental Farming Systems’ fundraising initiatives operate under the auspices of the NC Agricultural Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization (Tax ID# 56-6049304).
Your donation directly supports the following CEFS programs, initiatives, and activities:
*On-Farm Research: At CEFS’ 2000-acre research facility in Goldsboro, the Farming Systems Research Unit (FSRU) is hosting critical research to understand the impact that conventional, sustainable, and organic systems in the Southeastern US can have on greenhouse gas emissions. Data there will help us understand which land management practices can lead to lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Also at the FSRU, researchers are studying the influence that soil conditions, cropping practices and crop characteristics have on water drainage and its nutrient content. Data there has shown that residual nitrogen from fertilization of summer crops can be captured before it reaches groundwater by planting a rye winter cover crop. And CEFS’ Organic Farming Research Unit is hosting research trials for stevia, a perennial herb whose leaf is about 30 times sweeter than sugar in its raw form. The trials are aimed at evaluating whether or not stevia has the potential to be a lucrative commercial crop for the farmers of eastern North Carolina.
*Rebuilding Supply Chains for Local Foods: Led by CEFS, NC Growing Together is a five year USDA-funded project that aims to bring more locally-produced foods into mainstream retail and food service markets. Working closely with its many statewide partners, including major partners Lowes Foods and Fort Bragg, CEFS is helping to build and evaluate supply chains, identify and address food system infrastructure gaps, and create the tools, resources, and connections that allow small and mid-sized farmers to sell into larger markets. NC Choices, a CEFS initiative, advances local and niche meat supply chains in North Carolina by providing networking opportunities, educational programming and technical assistance to meat producers, meat processors, buyers and food professionals. Recognizing the emerging role that women play in the niche meat industry, this year NC Choices offered a 3-day, sold-out Women Working in the Meat Business Retreat. And in December 2013, NC Choices will hold its third annual nationally-recognized Carolina Meat Conference.
*Public Engagement: In 2013, the NC 10% Campaign – a CEFS initiative that encourages all North Carolina individuals and businesses to spend 10% of their existing food dollars on locally-produced food – hit a big milestone, tracking more than $53 million in local foods purchases since July 2010. The Campaign has been so successful that other states are beginning to use it as a model for local food initiatives in their own regions! Connecticut launched their own 10% Campaign this summer, and efforts are underway in other states including Michigan and South Carolina. And, CEFS’ annual Farm to Fork Picnic was a huge success, raising more than $20,000 for new farmer training programs in North Carolina.
*Partnership with NC Cooperative Extension: CEFS works closely with the NC Cooperative Extension Service (CES) to support and promote local foods throughout North Carolina. CES has designated local foods as their “flagship program” and has local foods coordinators working in partnership with the NC 10% Campaign in every county in the state.
*Youth Engagement and Leadership: Launched in 2013, the Food Youth Initiative (FYI) envisions and supports the advancement of a just food system by providing training and networking opportunities to young people aged 16-24. FYI is growing a statewide youth food network to support capacity-building for youth organizations and youth food advocacy work. FYI and other CEFS programs including Students Working for an Agricultural Revolutionary Movement (SWARM) and Produce Ped’lers amplify the youth perspective on food system needs and opportunities in North Carolina, while developing an experienced collective of young leaders in the local and sustainable food system movement.
*Statewide Food Assessment and Participatory Action Planning: In 2008 and 2009, CEFS convened hundreds of food system stakeholders across the state in a process to transform North Carolina’s food system called From Farm to Fork: Building a Sustainable Local Food Economy in North Carolina. BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina Foundation (BCBSNCF) has now charged CEFS with expanding the impact of Farm to Fork. The renewed effort includes a statewide food system assessment, and will engage and coordinate agencies and stakeholders at the state and local levels to collaboratively expand our local food economy in North Carolina.
None of this work would be possible without your support – and we find ourselves in a world that needs our work more than ever. The challenges of climate change, economic development, diet-related diseases, and health and access disparities all point to the need for transformative change in our state. Creating and supporting a just food system based on sustainable local production of healthy, accessible food and farm products requires coordinated efforts from a wide range of stakeholders – individuals, businesses, and organizations – across North Carolina. It is a massive undertaking, but it is already underway! Please join us in making it happen.
Cheryl Queen, Chair, CEFS Board of Advisors
Dr. Nancy G. Creamer, CEFS Director, NCSU
Dr. John M. O’Sullivan, CEFS Director, NC A&T SU