Fork to Farmer Initiative
The local food movement is transforming the agriculture and food services sector. This is particularly true in North Carolina where both the number of farms selling directly to consumers and the value of those agricultural products sold have increased (Census of Agriculture, 2012). Farm to table restaurants play a significant role in this transformation. The model of using locally sourced produce, protein, and dairy is trending in the high-end restaurant sector resulting in numerous high-profile chefs receiving notable awards and showing significant business success.
A goal of the Fork to Farmer Initiative is to generate greater public awareness of the chef-farmer collaborations and the inputs that each of them brings to the table in order to increase visits to local farms and diversify farm income by leveraging the high visibility of famous chefs with a record of supporting local small farms.
This initiative is led by a team of NC State Cooperative Extension economic development, local food, and tourism specialists. Fork to Farmer (1) makes short videos about well-known farm to table chefs and the small family farmers that supply their restaurants; and (2) develops and delivers agritourism training for these farmers to prepare them for farm visits by restaurant clientele and others.
Check out our project videos!
Another part of this project includes Vacationer Supported Agriculture (VSA). VSA connects small farmers with new opportunities to increase farm revenue through direct sales of fresh produce. VSA meets discerning vacationers’ desires to: a) have convenient access to fresh local produce, b) connect with the place they are visiting by buying from local farms, and c) leave positive impacts in the destinations they visit, by coordinating the sale and delivery of produce bags from local farmers. VSA enables vacation home realties to showcase their commitment to the sustainable and equitable development of their local communities by recommending the produce bags to their guests. In each county, the Extension Center and Tourism Authority play the critical role of recruiting and supporting local farmer groups and vacation home rentals. In turn they receive records of the impact this initiative had on farmer revenue and destination competitiveness.
Want to know more? Read about our second season of the VSA program in our 2019 VSA Fact Sheet!