I am Lisa, your Local Foods Extension Agent and part of the EMFS team. We at EMFS hope you are doing well, staying safe and finding peace during this difficult time. We also wanted to let you know that as of right now we are continuing to maintain operations and provide support for our clients.

However, due to the current situation, we are implementing some adaptive strategies to meet the needs of the food and farm businesses we serve. We are no longer holding in person meetings and will conduct all business via phone calls or online video conferencing platforms such as Zoom.

All our services are currently available remotely including:

  • Please start by completing our Business Services Intake Form. (I will be coordinating and guiding you through all other steps below to connect you with our partners)
  • After you complete the intake form I will schedule an initial phone call to discuss EMFS program services, your food or farm business goals, the various EMFS programs that meet your needs and to start the process of connecting you to our services.
  • After our initial follow up call, the next step in the process will be to virtually meet with your local Small Business Center Director. Our partners at the Small Business Centers are continuing to meet with clients remotely. They will work with you to develop your business plan, determine a business budget and suggest strategies to help make sure you are on track with your business planning. They can also share information about support from federal and state sources for
    small businesses facing hardship from the coronavirus pandemic, and can help prepare loan package applications for those programs.
  • We are also continuing to provide advanced business consulting services. Our team at TenBiz is available to provide further business coaching as well as connect you with services such as
    graphic design for logo development, website development, accounting services, human resource management tools, marketing strategies and legal services.
  • Our financial services such as our small grant program and our loan support program are available, and we hope can assist your business during this difficult time. Each grant or loan
    match amount is still determined on a case by case basis and awards are determined by our review team. We are still requiring as a preparatory step that you first meet with your Small
    Business Center director and that you have completed an enterprise budget for your business.
  • We are still providing referrals to advanced consulting for value-added businesses through our partners at Blue Ridge Food Ventures.
  • We are still providing referrals to farm lease opportunities, landowner resources, and farmer resources through our partners at NC Farmlink.

Though we are not hosting any in-person workshops or training events in the near future we do hope to roll out a series of webinars so that we can stay connected and continue to provide educational opportunities that can help your business grow and thrive. Please feel free to reach out to me with any of your ideas for educational programs that could meet your needs.

We will do our best to continue to meet your needs through this stressful time. However, we do ask for your patience as many of our staff members may be working reduced hours in order to care for their families and loved ones. If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to me at lcgonzal@ncsu.edu or Laura Lauffer at lwlauffe@ncsu.edu.

We wish that the weeks ahead are safe and healthy for you and your family.
– Lisa Gonzalez, NCSU Extension Area Specialized Agent – Local Foods