March 2017 — NC Growing Together has released several new resources that will be of interest to producers, buyers, educators, and other audiences.

Resources for Small Business Centers and Small Business Technology Development Centers

On March 15, NCGT sponsored a Food & Farm Financing Summit for nearly 70 Small Business Center (SBC) counselors from across the state. The session included short presentations from six Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and lending agencies in North Carolina that offer specialized programs in food and farm financing. The highlight of the session was speed-networking between the lenders and business counselors.

Participating lenders included  AgCarolina Farm CreditCarolina Small Business Development FundNatural Capital Investment FundNorth Carolina Rural Center ‘s Microenterprise Loan Program and USDA Farm Service Agency Loan Program, and  Self-Help Credit Union .

The session was part of the annual professional development conference for the North Carolina Small Business Center Network, hosted at North Carolina’s 58 community colleges statewide.

The Farm and Food Business Resource Guide: Developed for the North Carolina Small Business Center and Small Business Technology Development Center Networks was designed to help small business developers across North Carolina who are working with food entrepreneurs and farms. It provides an overview of common issues and associated resources, as well as a guide to North Carolina Cooperative Extension and agricultural resources and an overview of grants, financing, and other capital programs that support farmers and food businesses.

Postharvest Handling Resources

NCGT has conducted eight postharvest handling workshops over the past 3 years, reaching more than 150 producers and extension agents. Resources developed for these workshops are available on the NCGT website, and are intended to support extension agents and others in holding their own postharvest handling workshops.

Postharvest Handling for Enhanced Shelf Life: This PowerPoint presentation can be used by Extension agents and others who host postharvest handling workshops for farmers in their local region.

This guide outlines the processes needed to host a successful postharvest handling workshop, as well as links to resources that can be used, including the Postharvest Handling PowerPoint presentation, a North Carolina-specific Wholesale Specifications Guide, and multiple resources for growers to learn more about postharvest handling and quality issues.

NC Seafood Resources

Distributors of NC Wild-Caught Seafood : Compiled by NC Catch and NC Growing Together, this document provides information on wholesale/retail companies that distribute locally caught North Carolina seafood throughout the state.

NCGT and NC Catch also collaborated on Inland  and  Coastal Market Lists of where to find fresh local seafood throughout the state.

Local Food Marketing in Retail Settings
Hosting Local Food Events with Grocery Stores & Retailers: A Guide for Community Groups and Non-Profits Working with Local and Regional Retailers.   Research on consumer purchasing behavior finds that “grocery stores where people already shop” is the location where people are most likely to buy local food. Advocates and store owners can heighten consumer interest and sales in local food by holding “Meet the Farmer” or “Local Food” events in area grocery stores.   NCGT created this step-by-step guide for holding an in-store event based on the experiences of NCGT partner Lowes Foods.

This article originally appeared in the March 2017 NC Growing Together Newsletter.