CEFS’ NC Growing Together Project Enters Second Year

CEFSgrowingtogetherCEFS is marking the end of the first of year of its NC Growing Together (NCGT) Project, which aims to bring more locally-grown foods from small and mid-sized farmers – including produce, meat, dairy, and seafood – into mainstream retail and food service supply chains throughout the state.  NCGT is a five year (2013—2017) USDA-funded project.  The project is highly collaborative and includes dozens of partners from across the state, all of which have a stake in developing North Carolina’s Local Food Economy.

Major project partners Lowes Foods and Fort Bragg are committed to modifying their supply chains to increase purchases of locally-produced foods, and will serve as models for other large scale retail and institutional buyers seeking to do the same.  Additional major partners include NC Cooperative Extension,  Foster-Caviness, Military Growth Task Force, US Foods, and Merchants Distributors.

On December 5, the project convened its second annual all-partner meeting at Fort Bragg US Army base.  The meeting began with a delicious, nearly all-local lunch and included project updates from project staff and panel discussions among the retail and food service buyers involved in the project.

Other project-related news:

NCGT and Cooperative Extension Collaborate on Annual Extension Conference Trainings
NC Growing Together collaborated with Cooperative Extension to coordinate three workshops at the annual Cooperative Extension conference held on November 4-6 in Raleigh, NC.

The Marketing Opportunities through Season Extension workshop featured NCGT staff and Cooperative Extension and business partners as speakers and drew an audience of 75 Extension professionals.  View the presentation here.

The Local Food Systems Programming: Engaging all Extension Program Areas and Community Resources in a Systems Approach workshop featured NCGT staff and Cooperative Extension as speakers and drew an audience of 88 Extension professionals. View the presentation here.

The Role of Extension in Enhancing Access to Local Foods workshop featured Cooperative Extension and other partners as speakers and drew an audience of 75 Extension professionals.  View the presentation here.

NCGT Sponsors Nation’s First Local Foods-Focused Business School Supply Chain Fellowships
NC Growing Together is sponsoring the nation’s first local foods-focused business school supply chain fellowships through a partnership with the NC State University Poole School of Management Supply Chain Resource Cooperative.

Sebastian Naskaris, a first year MBA student, is working on select days during November and December at Merchants Distributors, the warehouse distributor for Lowes Foods Stores and other grocery chains.  The goal is to better understand the challenges and opportunities of moving locally-sourced products from small and mid-scale vendors through a large mainstream warehouse distributor.

Jessica Newsome, a second-year MBA student, is working with NC State and Cooperative Extension agricultural economist and marketing specialist Gary Bullen to identify promising supply chain channels to bring NC seafood inland to groceries and other buyers. This work includes interviews with producers, processors, buyers, and others to find win-win opportunities along the local-to-mainstream supply chain.

For more information on the NCGT Supply Chain Fellows, please visit the NCGT website.

North Carolina Local Food Infrastructure Inventory Map Posted Online
During the summer and early fall, NCGT worked in collaboration with NC Cooperative Extension field staff to create a mapped inventory of businesses that serve as intermediary steps in local food supply chains. Primary data sources for this site were business databases, NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services website information, and contact with Extension field staff and local economic development personnel.

NC Local Food Infrastructure Inventory

NC Local Food Infrastructure Inventory

This inventory will remain online with “Add Location” and “Contact” links for the duration of the NCGT project. The site, with map and downloadable data, is designed to allow businesses, individuals, non-profits, food councils, and other groups to easily access this information to determine the location and type of food businesses in their areas for further investigation and development of their local food systems.

Visit the Statewide Local Food Infrastructure Inventory Map here.

– JJ Richardson