The tri-county Farm and Food Council was formally recognized at a general meeting of Anson, Montgomery and Stanly citizens on Oct. 23 at the Dennis Community Room at Stanly Community College. The room was completely filled with citizens representing the various interests and areas of farm and food. Many had either participated in the long planning process, while others had just learned about this umbrella group that will encourage, support and initiate programs that will fulfill the vision and mission.
The vision of the FFC is a sustainable, locally-based, economically resilient farm and food system. A farm and food system is a network of people, organizations, associated government and non-government institutions and activities connecting the growing and harvesting, processing, distribution, consumption and residue utilization of food and other farm products.
The mission of the council is to encourage, support and coordinate the local farm and food system in the areas of agriculture, economic development, education, accessibility and health. The three County Commissions each passed a resolution in August or September formally recognizing and endorsing the vision and mission of the FFC.
The 2012 interim board chair, Robin McCree, welcomed the attendees and introduced and thanked the interim board members for their efforts to birth the FFC and its vision and mission. Some of the members to thank were: from Anson, Gary Sikes, Bobby Sikes, Thomas Cureton, Dr. Stan Sidor, Janine Wyrak; from Montgomery, Danelle Cutting, Jamie Warner, Molly Alexi, Jim Matheny, Jeff Hamilton, Randy Gunter; from Stanly, Lori Ivey, Tony Dennis, Debbie Bennett, Tom George, Nancy Bryant.
The new FFC board representatives and the areas they represent are, from Anson, Gary Sikes, Farmer, Charles Dunevant, Government/Cooperative Extension, Stuart Wasilowski, SPCC, Martha Parker, Interested Citizen. From Montgomery, Donny Epps, Farmer, Danelle Cutting, Gov/CE, Brenda Caudill, Public Health, Tammy Owens, MCC, and Sheila Menendez, Interested Citizen. From Stanly, Andrew McSwain, Farmer, Lori Ivey, Gov/CE, Debbie Bennett, Public Health, Robin McCree, SCC, and Nancy Bryant, Interested Citizen.
Special speaker was Teisha Wymore, NCSU and Center for Environmental Farming Systems State Coordinator of the “NC 10% Campaign,” that encourages all citizens, businesses, institutions to purchase at least 10% of their food from local sources. Updates from recent tri-county initiatives relating to the work of the FFC were:
Farm Fresh Ventures, LLC, a farm coop 501c3 to promote local foodstuffs from local farmers in the five-county Cooperative Extension District, including Anson, Montgomery and Stanly Counties. It will be centered in Wadesboro.
Anson New Tech High School’s “Living off the Land” project involving all students, 9-12 grades, in on-going entrepreneurial agricultural ventures both on the land and in the classrooms.
Montgomery’s Community Kitchen opening mid-November in which hot meals will be prepared for the elderly and also open to farmers who want to produce value-added products such as salsas from excess tomatoes.
“So You Wanna Be a Small Farmer” workshop at SCC’s Small Business Center, and their January, 2013 series of REAL Ag classes to be offered to all people interested in learning to establish an economically viable small farm business. REAL is Rural Entrepreneurial Action Learning.
NC Sustainable Local Foods Advisory Council, established by the Legislature, to encourage the building of a sustainable local foods economy in the State. The tri-county FFC is a partner, along with the other farm and food councils in the State.
Professor Jason Jones and his student, Rory Kalin, from the Charlotte School of Law, spoke to the group and the new Board afterwards about the model by-laws that they prepared, pro bono, for the FFC. Professor Jones congratulated the FFC efforts as being on the cutting edge, since we are only one of 16 councils in NC and one of four in the Charlotte region to date, although more are being formed as the benefits are being understood.
Robin McGee summarized the almost two years of planning, thanking all who had contributed their time and efforts. She adjourned the general meeting and the new Board stayed to discuss further plans.