A Wonderful Year for the Local Food Program Team
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Local food system development continues to be an exciting and impactful strategy for supporting strong communities across North Carolina. The NC State Extension Local Food Program Team (LFPT) developed resources and delivered training for Extension staff that carried over to more systemic and holistic programming for stakeholders across the state. Programs ranged from training resources for new and beginning farmers to using community gardens in nutrition education to identifying strategies to get more local foods into early childcare centers and schools. Taking a farm-to-fork approach and bringing together all Extension program areas strengthens our programs and impacts.
Local Food Program Team membership is made up of Extension staff from 40 counties and the EBCI. The Extension Local Food Program Team (LFPT) engages approximately 83 Specialists and Agents from various program disciplines to build capacity for local food systems across the state. This year, six LFPT work groups developed and delivered programming to meet the needs of target audiences across North Carolina.
The Annual Report is completed to showcase programming and responses to support the diverse food system we are lucky to have in North Carolina. Below is an example from each workgroup of some of the programs and resources developed through Agent and Specialist collaborations. You can find the full annual report with even more success stories from each workgroup.
- Click the link to see the new “Farm to School” Extension webpage, which shares information and resources covering Intro to Farm to School, School Gardens, Cooking and Nutrition in the Classroom, Local Purchasing and Procurement, Building Capacity, Racial Equity, and Farm Field Trips! Also, check out the new “Introduction to Farm to School” online course!
Small Farm Bootcamp Pilot Program
- The Small Farm Boot Camp pilot program was launched across 12 counties in North Carolina! The pilot program was created as a resource for small-scale farmers & producers who are beginning a business and Extension Agents who can teach the training modules. It includes eight modules, with one more in the planning stages. Be on the lookout for agent training available in January!
- One of the biggest accomplishments for the Farm to ECE Workgroup this program year was publishing and distributing their brand new resource guide for Extension Agents! Over 100 copies were given out at the Annual Extension Conference and regional extension training! Click the link to view a copy!
- On June 1st, 2023, Extension staff from across the state gathered at the NC A&T State University Farm Pavilion for “Community Gardens and Cooking: Cross-Programming for Food Insecurity.” Workshop goals included networking, LFPT recruitment, having fun while learning, and brainstorming for action in respective counties. Click the link to read about the day spent together, and be on the lookout for the 2024 Save the Date!
- Six incubator farms across the state were interviewed to learn more about incubators in NC. Following the interviews, a guide was written to help summarize the structure of the farms and share information that may help others learn about the process of incubator farms, common challenges, and available resources. Be on the lookout for the finalized guide and resources for Extension involvement soon!
Local Food Program Manager and LFPT Co-Chairs, Hannah Dankbar and Allison Walker attended many conferences and workshops to present about the program team and the work being done around the state. We also use social media, virtual coffee chats, and monthly newsletters to highlight the local food work of agents and specialists. The LFPT met twice for their full group meetings to gather and learn about local food resources and programs and to network with others across the state. We are looking forward to another wonderful year ahead!