Category Archives: Marketing

Restoring the Family Table 3.1 and 3.2

First let me admit what I have not eaten this week that I probably would have- peanut butter. Late in the afternoons I usually have a spoonful-straight from the jar. My jar.  I also snack on prunes, I really like prunes.  But this week it has been peaches, blueberries, blackberries and melons. Oh the suffering :).

Breakfast today- A farm fresh egg, poached atop a slice of Spelt bread.  I have mentioned spelt bread several times.  The reason being, I have cut most wheat out of my diet.  The last few years I have dealt with a reoccurring, undiagnosed rash on my neck and upper back. Testing, changing soaps and lotions, nothing changed until I cut out wheat and gluten- No more rash, unless I eat a lot of wheat. And I paid lots of money with no diagnosis to figure this out for free!

Lunch- A paid $1 for a butternut squash at the Saluda Tailgate market on Friday. Today I roasted it, added a few teaspoons of sausage crumbles, some leftover grilled zucchini from Sunday’s lunch , a splash of locally sourced white balsamic vinegar from Giardini’s  FRESCA market and some Kimchi ( did I mention I really like Kimchi?)  I had never made that lunch dish before, might not again, just depends on the ingredients available,  but it was really good!!!

Afternoon snack: sliced peach with yogurt and a ‘Hunger Buster’ snack bar, locally made and available at the Mill Spring Farm Store.

I always bring coffee from home for my afternoon wake up call and I drink lots of water with mint. We have many mint varieties at the Mill Spring Ag Center so I can vary my flavors daily, sometimes I add a slice of cucumber too!

Restoring the Family Table 2.2

 

Monday lunch:
Leftover Scalloped Potatoes with sausage crumbles and Kimchi I made a few months ago. If you have never tried Kimchi I recommend it. It is naturally fermented vegetables of any combination, usually incorporating garlic, onions, ginger and cabbage of some variety. I added kale to mine as well. Before refrigeration, fermentation was a common method of preservation. Fermented foods are easily digested and in some cultures, it is always present-like we have salt and pepper on the table. I had a peach for an afternoon snack.
I had an appointment in Shelby in the late afternoon and I will admit- it was tempting to go through the Chick-Fil- A drive thru for waffle fries, but I DID NOT!
Home at 6pm- My dear Aunt from Florida was very willing to participate in the ‘ Eat Local’ Challenge and had prepared a wonderful meal for those able to attend- 2 Aunts, my mom, my daughter and 2 cousins. We enjoyed: Pork Chops with a 5 Pepper Coffee Rub from Meanwhile Back in Saluda, yellow and zucchini squash with onions, baked sweet potatoes, sliced tomatoes and kimchi on the side. I also added a bit of the very yummy Caramelized garlic and onion jam to my sweet potato instead of butter. That stuff is a great compliment to many food items! Dessert- fresh sliced Crenshaw Melon and blueberries. All vegetables and fruits came from Farmers Markets in Polk County. Pork Chops compliments of our farm.
I had a late night snack of Spelt toast with Rose’s Best FROG jam ( FROG- fig, raspberry, orange and ginger).

Restoring the Family Table 1

So my week of eating local has begun.
I will start with a little background of myself and the family farm. After being away from Polk County for about 22 years, my family, husband, 2 of 4 kids and 3 dogs returned to my family home in 2008. First Christmas-

My dear husband says ‘ darling, what do you want for Christmas?” Me : A chicken coop.

Husband: A What?

Me: A chicken coop.

Husband: What is that and what is it for?

Me: Chickens and eggs. I want fresh eggs.

Husband: eye rolling…..

Me: I got a chicken coop- he really does love me doesn’t he???
Fast forward to 2015: Restoration Farm ( owner and operator Dawn Jordan) has some 200 heritage breed chickens and turkeys of various ages and purposes, pigs and a few cows, bee hives and a small garden. My dear husband manages the cows and will occasionally kill the snakes trying to eat my poultry( last night was interesting).
So, with that being disclosed, breakfast this morning consisted of:
Farm Fresh EGGS that dear husband collected from the side yard coop,
SAUSAGE from one of our pastured hogs recently gone to market, sliced TOMATOES from the garden, SPELT TOAST from Beneficial Foods bakery and HONEY from our bees. The COFFEE came from Openroad Coffee’s newly offered onsite roaster. It was very good.
:ooking forward to lunch. I’ll give you a hint- we recently processed turkeys

Sourcing Note: All of these items can be purchased locally, produced by local farmers or vendors. I will be making a list of items purchased, cost and breakdown of cost per person.

The What and Why of Agritourism

This month’s Friends of Agriculture Breakfast featured a presentation by Annie Baggett, the Agritourism Marketing Specialist for the N. C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.  This blog will touch on the benefits of agritourism that were discussed, as well as some tips for starting your own tourism venture on the farm.

Agritourism is defined as:

“Any activity carried out on a farm or ranch that allows members of the general public, for recreational, entertainment, or educational purposes, to view or enjoy rural activities, including farming, ranching, historic, cultural, harvest-your-own activities, or natural activities and attractions. An activity is an Agritourism activity whether or not the participant paid to participate in the activity.”

-NC General Assembly 2005

 

The Benefits of Agritourism:

Below are some graphs illustrating some of the many benefits provided by agritourism .  These graphs were part of a study from NC State, assessing the benefits of agritourism for both farmers and vistors to the farm.overalleconomic_benefits

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socio_cultura

As you can see, allowing visitors to your farm has numerous economic, environmental, and sociocultural benefits.

Agritourism allows farm ventures to…

1) Be Profitable:

  • Farmers can even out their revenue stream
  • Maximize farm resources
  • Create post harvest revenue
  • Diminish the impact of catastrophic events (droughts, floods, crop failure, etc.)

2) Provide Education for the Public on the Benefits of Agriculture, and in turn:

  • Increase direct sales
  • Gain new customers
  • Enhance service to existing customers
  • Show the value of the farm product, so customers understand pricing

3) Preserve Family Farms and Way of Life

4) Create Future Farmers

5) Build Community Vibrancy

 

Maybe you are a farmer, and you’re wondering…where do I start???

First consider what you have and who you know!

  • What grows on your farm that could be made into a tourism activity??  Do you have livestock?  Berries for picking?  Value added product you make on site?  Do you have an old barn that could be used as a venue for special events?? etc.
  • What makes your farm special??  Maybe you are the only farmer producing….heirloom squash?  Or maybe your farm has an old barn that has a unique family history?? for example.  Outlining the key things your farm provides and what sets you apart is a great first step.
  • Did you know that there is a Polk County Farm Tour you can take part in??  ASAP also hosts a farm tour each year.  Look around at all the possibilities to advertise your farm and your product.

Next be sure to look at the safety of your farm.

  • Make sure that there are no considerable safety issues on site.
  • Make signs for electric fencing, fill large holes, etc.
  • If you have any concerns, your insurance agent can help answer questions.

Consider a Marketing Strategy

  • Think about a way to brand your farm or your farm product
  • Take pictures of the farm
  • Think about yourself as the face of the farm, and how you want to portray your venture.

got

North Carolina has a statewide campaign and it offers many free advertising services to farmers across the state!!

Here are some ways to advertise your farm to the 7 million tourists visiting NC Welcome Centers annually:

  • Join the Got To Be NC website for free!  You get to create your own webpage to advertise your farm.  For more information visit:  http://www.ncagr.gov/NCproducts/CatSubDirectory.asp?CatNum=1011
  • Your farm can potentially be advertised at the Raleigh and Mountain State Fairs, the Southern Farm Show, or the Got to Be NC Festival
  • Regionally a few programs are being developed for 2015:
    • Passport programs (specifically for distilleries across the state)
    • A food preservation program

 I hope this was helpful.

Get out there and show people the hard work you put into providing food for our community!!

Relocalizing Food for Resiliency (Pt. 2)

The last blog emphasized that despite grocery stores shelves being packed full of products, and millions of dollars being distributed for food assistance programs, our world is actually quite food insecure.   Limited access to nutritious, affordable food is leading to rampant health problems and decreasing our societal knowledge of where food comes from.   The first step is acknowledging the fact that food insecurity is a real problem for Polk County, as discussed in part one.  This blog is part two of our series, and will discuss how we assess what we need in order to “relocalize” our food system.

“Food security is not in the supermarket. It’s not in the government. It’s not at the emergency services division. True food security is the historical normalcy of packing it in during the abundant times, building that in-house larder, and resting easy knowing that our little ones are not dependent on next week’s farmers’ market or the electronic cashiers at the supermarket.”
Joel Salatin

Just as Joel Salatin emphasizes above, it is clear that we must begin to address food system issues from the ground-up, rather than depending on outside agencies to be the fix-all solution.  In order to begin building a resilient local food system, we must first understand what our nutritional needs as humans are.  Then we must address the nutritional gaps in our local food supply and how to fill these at various scales within the community.

As humans we need: about 2,300 calories a day in the form of protein, fat, and carbohydrates; additionally we need vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and medicinal plants for healing.  All of these nutritional needs come from vegetables, herbs and spices, root crops, grains, animals and animal products, oils, nuts, fruits, berries, mushrooms, and products made from the above.  In order to build a resilient system, we must grow all of the above, and also produce value-added products.  That seems like a lot to tackle!  But if addressed at various production scales, it is actually quite feasible if the community is willing.

The first step is to identify regional staples that can be reliably produced in large quantities each year.

One example in Polk County would be sweet potatoes, or apples.  Next you ask:

  • “How many pounds of apples, sweet potatoes, ________, do Polk County residents consume in a year?”
  • “How many pounds do we currently produce…How many pounds are imported?”
  • “How can we increase local production to meet demand?”
  •  “How can we make these local products accessible in all markets?”

Other regional staples for Western NC include: potatoes, onions, beans, corn, pumpkin and squash, cabbage and greens, eggs, fruit, nuts, berries, wild plants and game, and small and large livestock.  Establishing a steady supply of products that are easily grown in your region is a first step towards stabilizing the food system.

 After we establish regional staples, we must look at growing the most nutrient dense foods.

The trick is to grow things that provide the most nutrition per square foot of production.  Some examples include: Cranberries, which are high in nutrient content and used to be native to NC, muscadines and paw paw which both provide cancer fighting potential and grow wild in our region.

We must also consider growing grains such as millet, quinoa, buckwheat, etc.  Additionally nuts have lots of potential to provide economic support to farmers, since now a large percentage of nuts produced in California are being shipped to Asia (70% of almonds are being shipped!).  Locally we can produce almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, and pecans.  Seeds are also nutrient powerhouses and flax, sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds could all be produced locally.

In terms of fats we must be able to produce oil and also obtain some from animal products.  Grapeseed oil has great potential in our region where viticulture provides grape skin waste that could be processed into oil.  Oil presses are not a high-cost equipment, and could be used on a co-op scale.  Other important nutrient powerhouses we can produce locally are mushrooms, herbs, goat’s milk and cheeses, as well poultry and eggs.

It is also important to grow Antioxidant Super Foods

Elderberry is a great example of a product that is native to this region and also possesses many medicinal properties.  Muscadine grapes, as mentioned above, are also a great source of antioxidants, boasting a higher antioxidant content that blueberries!  Vegetables such as kale, asparagus, red peppers, red cabbage, beets, etc. are also so called “super foods.”

 Muscadines Black

 

One we establish what we need to grow, it is important to understand how  we can grow enough food to support our community.  To do this we must:

Identify and plug local nutritional food gaps.

Chuck Marsh stated that the two hardest nutrients to provide at a local scale will be oils and minerals.  Mountain soils are old and typically lack many minerals, but can be re-mineralized with proper soil management techniques.  Oils on the other hand will require large scale supply of products, as well as the machinery to process and package.  Typically grain is grown in the cereal belt, but in order to address food security, we must promote grain farming for human consumption.  Finally non-grain staples and value-added products will be needed, which opens up the opportunity for local economic development and diversification.

The whole goal is to cut out the intermediaries who, by shipping the food 1000’s of miles, and spending large amounts of money on advertising, distort the true cost of food while also depleting the health of citizens.  By cutting out the middle-man we can provide great nutrients per dollar and rebuild our local economies.

This will not be an overnight change, nor will it come without its challenges  One insight I gained from the discussion is that we cannot learn or grow without challenges.  Challenge builds character and inner strength.  Working as a community to address food security will not only improve the physical health of citizens, but may also promote emotional and spiritual well being.  The final blog will discuss how we can begin to work towards filling the gaps in our system.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time…

Brewer’s Grain for Fodder & Cattle Alliance

After our Friends of Ag Breakfast last week there were a couple of great ideas put forth about feed for animals. Comparing dry weights versus wet and more. Two great resources came out of breakfast and are listed below!

To help you find access to brewer’s grains, connect with the WNC Brewer’s Grain Alliance

Running cattle? Check out the Mountain Cattle Alliance for help with marketing and selling your stock wholesale.