Media Contact: Teisha Wymore, firstname.lastname@example.org or 415.215.1612
Since July 2010, the 10% Campaign has recorded more than $7.6 million that North Carolina consumers and businesses have spent on food produced locally. A big share of those dollars can be attributed to one business: Eastern Carolina Organics of Pittsboro.
Launched by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, in partnership with North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service and funding from Golden LEAF, the 10% Campaign has successfully encouraged hundreds of businesses and community organizations, hospitals and medical centers, universities and colleges, and thousands of individuals to invest 10 percent of their food budget on foods produced within the state’s borders. The campaign has also fostered the development and promotion of regional buy-local food initiatives.
ECO was started in 2004 by Carolina Farm Stewardship Association with support from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission to assist organic tobacco growers in North Carolina who were transitioning to other crops. These certified-organic farms were ready to transition to growing organic produce, and there was a strong demand for local organic produce in North Carolina, according to ECO’s Chief Executive Officer Sandi Kronick.
ECO also worked with farmers’ market-scale growers who were producing enough food to expand to other markets, Kronick said. Today ECO buys produce from growers across North Carolina and sells to distributors, restaurants and retail outlets from Florida to Canada.
About 40 North Carolina growers from the mountains to the coast and throughout the Piedmont sell their produce through ECO, which ensures that 80 percent of the company’s sales go directly back to the growers. “ECO has a solid growth model that allows farmers of all scales to enter local markets,” said Teisha Wymore, coordinator of the 10% Campaign.
The difference between ECO’s approach and that of traditional produce distribution is that ECO sells produce while it is still in the field. Produce is harvested after it is ordered, ensuring that customers generally receive the produce within one to two days of harvest.
This calendar year alone, ECO has purchased approximately $1.5 million in local food that is distributed back to other outlets. “We are proud to be one of the first companies in the 10% Campaign, but we also know that it’s easier for us, since all we do is buy local produce,” Kronick said. “Our customers are committed to this – to sustaining the local farms that we work with.”
Kronick said ECO has enjoyed being part of the 10% Campaign, watching the total dollars grow as more consumers and businesses report their local spending. “The 10% Campaign has a solid partnership with ECO, and through ECO’s contribution to our statewide tracking system, we are watching our impact grow and grow,” Wymore said.
“We’re a small part of a much larger (local food) movement,” Kronick said. “It’s inspiring and exciting to think of the possibilities, bringing more farmers and customers together, through more reliable local distribution channels.”
Consumers can sign on to the 10% Campaign website – www.nc10percent.com – to report weekly spending on local food. The website also has a number of resources, including an online directory of organizations working to help consumers find farmers marketing directly to their customers and other supply lines for locally grown foods. Contact Teisha Wymore for information about how to join the campaign at 919.515.0244 (office), 415.215.1612 (cell) or email@example.com.
The 10% Campaign is a program of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, a partnership of N.C. State University, N.C. A&T State University and the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. Its mission is to develop and promote food and farming systems that protect the environment, strengthen local communities and provide economic opportunities in North Carolina and beyond.
-Written by Natalie Hampton, 919.513.3128 or firstname.lastname@example.org