Thanks in part to the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, it’s getting easier for North Carolinians to find fresh food from local farmers in grocery stores, restaurants, schools and farmers markets.
Since CEFS started 23 years ago as a partnership of NC State University, N.C. A&T State University and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the program has emerged as an international leader in the local foods movement.
> 30+ buyers — including grocery chains, food service wholesales and distributors, restaurants and small retailers — have connected with 238 small- and mid-sized food producers through speed networking or other events offered by CEFS’ North Carolina Growing Together program.
> Loyal NCGT partner Lowes Foods now purchases 30 percent of its in-season produce from local sources, according to Richard McKellogg, Lowes Foods’ director of produce and floral merchandising. The company has more than 100 supermarkets in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
> To continue growing its local food offerings, Lowes Foods turned a shared CEFS internship into a full-time locally grown accounts representative: Krista Morgan, an NC State alumna in horticultural science and landscape design.
> CEFS helped launch a statewide Community Food Strategies program and more than 30 local food policy councils to improve pathways to healthy local food.
> Since 2010, individuals, organizations, businesses and institutions that signed up for the CEFS-led 10% Campaign have tracked more than $70 million in local NC food purchases.