We are coming to the close of a truly momentous year at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), and we want to include you in our success, our gratitude, and our rejoicing.
For nearly twenty years CEFS has been innovating, designing, and delivering progressive sustainable agriculture research, extension, and education to the state of North Carolina and beyond.
This year, the Farming Systems Research Unit on our 2000-acre Goldsboro research farm was awarded critical long-term funding by the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) to support the comparative farming systems research trial that has been ongoing there since 1998. The Farming Systems Research Unit also serves as the home for pioneering new research about the greenhouse gas mitigation potential of organic systems in the Southeast, a project recently funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. At the Alternative Swine Unit, we are learning and teaching about how to manage outdoor hog production in ways that conserve natural resources while optimizing animal performance. These research units, along with our Organic Unit, Small Farm Unit, and Pasture-Based Dairy, Beef, and Goat units, also serve as hands-on “learning labs” for our eight week residential summer internship and season-long farm apprentice programs.
Over the last few years, CEFS, along with its many statewide partners, has risen to the challenge of creating a Local Food Economy in North Carolina. What does that mean? It means that we are literally changing the food system here in North Carolina. By supporting beginning farmers with our Incubator Farm Project, advancing policy changes that support the development of local farms through our participation on the Sustainable Local Foods Advisory Council, educating and inspiring consumers to buy locally-produced foods through the NC 10% Campaign, and helping to rebuild our state’s processing and distribution networks through efforts like NC Choicesand others, our work is having a real impact.
The NC 10% Campaign now includes more than 6,000 individuals and over 700 businesses across the state. The Campaign encourages businesses and consumers to spend 10 percent of their food dollars on local foods. Purchases are tracked on the NC 10% Campaign website and now total over $28 million since the campaign’s launch in July 2010! These dollars, spent locally, strengthen the state’s economy as they further circulate through their communities in a ripple known as the “multiplier effect”. CEFS was recently awarded multi-year funding to lead research into quantifying this “multiplier effect.”
CEFS’ Community-Based Food Systems programs are making a difference on the ground in Goldsboro and around the state. This past summer, CEFS and its remarkable community partners launched Produce Ped’lers, a youth-run bike delivery program that delivers fresh produce from the City farmer’s market to areas of the community that have limited access to fresh produce. This innovative program generated so much excitement and interest that USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon visited Goldsboro for its May launch, and the News and Observer featured the program in a front-page article.
In October, Students Working for an Agricultural Revolutionary Movement (SWARM), the CEFS-supported youth food activism group based in Goldsboro, had the great honor to present at a youth empowerment event of the Clinton Global Initiative, moderated by Chelsea Clinton. In early November, SWARM was visited by Shellie Pfohl, the Executive Director of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. While in Goldsboro, Ms. Pfohl visited the CEFS research farm and several community sites, including the Wayne County Public Library garden and Dillard Academy Charter School.
This year was also the second successful year that CEFS, in partnership with 4-H, hosted FoodCorps North Carolina. There are now 7 service members on the ground in 6 communities and a FoodCorps Fellow who provides extra support to those service members. They are building on the great work of last year’s service members to increase farm to school programing across the state, engaging children in school gardens, teaching nutrition education, and connecting cafeterias to local farm produce.
CEFS’ work has been recognized in very meaningful ways this past year. In the spring, we were awarded the NCSU Opal Mann Green Engagement and Scholarship Award, which recognizes the creation of inclusionary teams to pursue community-based learning and action around issues of local importance. In October, CEFS was named a regional winner of the C. Peter Macgrath Community Engagement Award, a national distinction which recognizes outreach and engagement partnership efforts of four-year public universities.
We were also fortunate to receive significant grants from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation and USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to help us expand efforts to build strong sustainable local food systems that support community health and economic development. Finally, CEFS was recently awarded the USDA Secretary’s Honor award — the most prestigious departmental awards presented by the Secretary of Agriculture — for our leadership and accomplishments. CEFS was the only group outside of USDA to receive the award. We are honored to have our work recognized in these ways, and grateful for the many wonderful partnerships that give our work its true relevance.
In order to support this work, and a sustainable future for North Carolina’s agriculture, we need your help. Please support our work today, with a donation of any size. The Center for Environmental Farming Systems has nonprofit status under the auspices of the N.C. Agricultural Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization (Tax ID# 56-6049304).
With all the best holiday wishes for you and your family,
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