February 2017 — NC Growing Together’s Local Food Economies initiative is providing resources and tools to professional associations around the state for supporting agricultural economic development and food entrepreneurship. In July 2016, the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-NC) invited NCGT to present a webinar entitled Local Foods: Planning for Prosperity in North Carolina to kick off its national year-long Planning for Prosperity series. The APA-NC is an association of 1,400 professional and citizen planners who work throughout North Carolina.
“Building these kinds of partnerships really helps connect the great resources available through NC Cooperative Extension and the local food specialists at CEFS to local governments across the state. APA-NC’s leadership on this issue helps us reach towns, counties, and cities that are interested in building stronger agricultural economic development programs and supporting farms and food businesses in their regions,” said Emily Edmonds, NCGT Extension and Outreach Program Manager.
NCGT and partners from Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and Community Food Strategies also facilitated a professional development session at APA-NC’s annual conference in September 2016. The session highlighted NCGT’s Government Guide to Building Local Food Economies and provided information on planning and land use strategies to support agriculture and food business development.
“The North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association is thrilled to introduce planners from across the state to NC Growing Together. Building and supporting a vibrant local food system takes efforts from planners, local officials, community advocates, producers and end users,” said Hanna Cockburn, Long Range and Strategic Planning Manager for the City of Greensboro.
This spring, APA-NC is following up on its national launch with regional meetings across the state designed to provide in-depth professional training for planners on food systems development. The first event was held in conjunction with Healthy Alamance in Saxapahaw on February 16 and featured NCGT Extension and Outreach Program Manager Emily Edmonds; Erin White of Community Food Lab speaking about the Sandhills AgInnovation Center; Russ Clegg of the City of Greensboro speaking about the Fresh Food Access Plan Project; and Mike Ortosky of Orange County speaking about their Agricultural Economic Development Program.
“These meetings provide a great launching pad for attendees to take the ideas they hear from the speakers and apply these concepts in their own communities,” said Cockburn. Western and eastern regional gatherings are being planned for spring 2017.
NCGT’s Local Food Economies initiative has produced an extensive suite of resources for planners and local government officials seeking to support local agricultural economic development. A Government Guide to Building Local Food Economies, Case Studies, County Infographics, and other Research and Tools can all be found on the Local Food Economies page of CEFS’ website.
This article originally appeared in the February 2017 NC Growing Together Newsletter.