Attending Two Events Focused on the Local Food Movement
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had the chance to attend two events that largely focused on the Local Food Movement.
Annual Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) Conference
For those of you who aren’t familiar with CFSA, it is an organization of North and South Carolina farmers, gardeners, and consumers formed more than 30 years ago to promote local, sustainable agriculture. This year’s conference was held in Durham and drew 1,300 attendees. In addition to sessions ranging from seed saving and season extension to mob grazing and mushroom cultivation, the conference offered an opportunity to tour local farms in the surrounding counties.
One of the stops on the tour we joined was the Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro. CCCC is nationally known for its emphasis on sustainable agriculture and technologies, and already offers associate degrees in green buildings and green technologies, as well as sustainable agriculture. But one of the new programs that caught our attention was the Natural Chef Culinary Program. This program teaches the culinary arts, but with an emphasis on sustainability, nutrition, and whole foods. It started out as a continuing education curriculum but has been so popular that it will become a full-fledged degree program this Fall.
The Program operates a café onsite offering lunches and one dinner a week, with meals prepared from, according to Head Chef Greg Hamm, “98% local ingredients”. They served us a lunch of roasted free-range chicken, sweet potato fingerlings, two types of salad, and fresh-baked bread that was delicious.
Half-day workshop on Creating a Local Food System in Wake, Co.
The second event was a half-day workshop sponsored by Wake County and AHA (Advocates for Health in Action), on Creating a Local Food System in Wake County. The workshop brought together farmers, food brokers, restauranteurs, health professionals, teachers, healthy food advocates, and food writers to discuss ways to improve access to, and distribution of, locally-grown food and create public demand.
So, what’s the connection from these two events to Master Gardeners?
For both of these events, the key finding was the importance of education: educating chefs-in-training of the importance of sustainable practices, educating consumers on the health and environmental benefits of local food, and educating families that good nutrition is the best defense against childhood obesity.
As educators who deal with the public on a daily basis, Master Gardeners are uniquely situated to actively promote these initiatives through our work with community gardening programs, farmers market events, growing workshops, demonstration gardens and youth horticulture. Keep up the good work. And the next time you’re in Pittsboro, stop by the CCCC for lunch. Tell them Farmer Bob sent you.
–Bob Kellam, Wake County, North Carolina farmer and the current president of the North Carolina Master Gardener Volunteer Association (NCMGVA).
This article originally appeared in the NCMGVA Winter 2011 Newsletter