Twenty-Five Years of CEFS: Strong Roots, Sustained Growth

Twenty-five years ago in North Carolina, amid rising concern about the impact of agriculture on the environment, a groundbreaking partnership was established.  North Carolina State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services founded the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) at Cherry Research Farm in Goldsboro on February 1, 1994.
The Center was dedicated to long-term, large-scale sustainable agriculture research and demonstration, the first such site in the state of North Carolina, and one of only a handful in the country. Then-NC Commissioner of Agriculture Jim Graham presided over the Center’s launch.  At the time, he said, “He or she who plants thorns can never get roses.  We’re planting roses today.”
Non-profit organizations including NC Farm Bureau Federation, Land Loss Prevention Project, Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA and Carolina Farm Stewardship Association joined with farmers and citizens to advise the process.  Bringing together such diverse stakeholders to sit at the table and find common interests was a significant accomplishment, says CEFS Founding Director Dr. Nancy Creamer. “CEFS was a bridge-builder then, and we pride ourselves on being a bridge-builder now,” she says.
CEFS soon became recognized not only for its unique founding partnership, but also for its contributions to large-scale and long-term field research.  Over the years CEFS expanded its focus to include the entire food system, becoming a statewide program with community, non-profit, county government, state agency, and small and large business partners.  It is now one of the nation’s most important centers for research, extension, and education in sustainable agriculture and local food systems.
Join us this year, as we explore our past and look to the future.  Do you have a memory of CEFS that you’d like to share?  Submit it here.
Want to learn more?  Read Twenty-Five Years of CEFS: Strong Roots, Sustained Growth, a blog post by CEFS’ Founding Director Nancy Creamer. 
Hear the story of how CEFS was founded by the people who were there!  Watch the first video in our 25th Anniversary Video Series, Chapter 1: Founding Story, below.



Remember when we celebrated our 20th Anniversary in 2014?  Take a look...