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SPARTA, N.C. -- On Saturday, Jan. 26, 44 people from Grayson and Alleghany Counties met in Sparta for a workshop on local food production, marketing and distribution.
Attendees included organic vegetable, herb and flower producers, farmers raising pastured beef, lamb and chicken, beekeepers and bakers. Colette Nester, pastured pork farmer in Alleghany County, and Rick Cavey, a vegetable farmer in Grayson County, explained their plan to organize a “Food Hub” in this region that will encourage and support growers in producing what customers want and linking these two groups to maximize return to growers.
Caleb Crowell, executive director for the New River Organic Growers, described this cooperative of farmers who aggregate their produce and deliver to restaurants, stores, college dining halls and other locations in western North Carolina.
Tenley Weaver of Good Food Good People, LLC of Floyd talked about their purchase of products from local farmers and how they market and sell them via wholesale, CSA’s, six farmers markets, a self-serve outlet and an online pre-order system.
Hollis Wild presented the work of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), a 501c3 based in Asheville, N.C., which began when the tobacco settlement cost many small farmers a major portion of their income; ASAP has assisted those farmers in transitioning to growing food for local consumption. They provide marketing assistance for all certified “Appalachian grown” products.
Kevin Spurlin, Grayson County Extension agent, shared many resources available through the Extension services in every county and explained the role of other federal and state agencies. He shared a one-page balanced scorecard for agricultural ventures, especially helpful to new growers.
The last speaker was Jennifer Lamb, a fellow with Appalachian Sustainable Development of Abingdon. ASD has a vegetable packing facility where they aggregate locally grown food and distribute it to grocery chains in the region. They have a printed Food Guide for Southwestern Virginia counties and are collaborating in assessing local food systems and developing one GIS map for this topic.
Attendees were encouraged to participate in the “Food Hub” assessment and to continue networking as this project unfolds. Any residents of Grayson or Alleghany Counties who want to become involved may contact Colette Nester at firstname.lastname@example.org or (336) 372-8574.
Monthly Meeting planned
On Monday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m., Grayson LandCare will hold its monthly meeting at the Historic 1908 Courthouse in Independence.
Jennifer Lamm, intern with Appalachian Sustainable Development in Abingdon, will discuss ASD’s current projects.
The meeting will also provide updates on the Independence Farmer’s Market; the emerging “Food Hub;” regional slaughterhouse project; and the 2013 Save Green Expo, of which the topic will be “Emergency Preparations: Where Are You When the Power Goes Out?”
The meeting will also include various classes relating to local sustainability in Grayson, Carroll, Wythe and Ashe Counties. Visit Grayson LandCare’s website, www.graysonlandcare.org, to learn more.
Meetings are open to anyone who is interested in building a sustainable future.