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Asheville, North Carolina News

Posts Tagged ‘farmers’

Initiative Launched to Increase Farmers Market Sales and Local Food Access

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

ASHEVILLE NC – Two of North Carolina’s leading local food and farmer advocacy organizations have joined forces on a major new initiative to increase farmer direct sales and expand local food access. ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) and RAFI-USA (Rural Advancement Foundation International) have partnered on the project, Connect2Direct. The goal for the collaboration is to support and build equitable community-based local food economies through the development of  direct markets for farmers in North Carolina. ASAP has nearly two decades of local food systems development experience and RAFI is a national leader in farmer-led policy and market reforms.

Demand for locally grown food continues to grow and direct farm sales are an important connector between farmers and the community. North Carolina is home to a variety of direct markets including on-farm stores, roadside stands, community supported agriculture programs (CSAs), and according to the USDA’s Farmers Market Directory, nearly 250 farmers markets.  Despite this, according to the USDA Census of Agriculture the combined sales of these outlets increased only slightly from 2007 to 2012 to $31.8 million.

“There are tremendous opportunities for farmers to increase direct sales” said ASAP Executive Director Charlie Jackson. “We’ve just scratched the surface of potential for North Carolina farms and communities and efforts to expand access through outreach and food assistance programs are good for our farms, our health, and our local economies” notes Jackson.

Over the past few years efforts in North Carolina to increase access to fresh farm products through supplemental nutrition assistance programs such as  SNAP/EBT and the Farmers Market Nutrition Program have grown. From 2010 to 2013, the number of NC farmers markets authorized to accept SNAP/EBT increased 175%, from 24 to 66 markets.  “Ensuring that all North Carolinians have access to health foods, particularly direct from the farmer, is central to the Connect2Direct mission and good for communities” said Scott Marlow, Executive Director for RAFI-USA.

Connect2Direct aims to dramatically increase farm to consumer direct sales and the usage of EBT/SNAP at farmers markets in NC – by over 100% within two years – by providing training and technical assistance to markets and market vendors, creating effective marketing and outreach campaigns, facilitating the transactional process for EBT/SNAP, and building statewide capacity and efficiency to sustainably ensure that all North Carolinians have access to fresh foods grown by local farmers. A Farmers Market and Direct Sales Conference is planned for November 2015. Find  out more about the initiative at www.connect2direct.org.

Funding partners include the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Southern Risk Management Education Center, USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program, and Wholesome Wave. Additional partners include UNC’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, NC Department of Health and Human Services, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, and select farmers markets across the state.

For upcoming workshops and announcements, please visit: www.connect2direct.org

ASAP Contact: Charlie Jackson, Executive Director, [email protected]

RAFI Contact: Scott Marlow, Executive Director, [email protected]

About ASAP: ASAP’s mission is to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and supporters, and build healthy communities through connections to local food. To learn more about ASAP’s work, visit asapconnections.org, or call (828) 236-1282.

About RAFI: RAFI’s mission is to cultivate markets, policies, and communities that sustain thriving, socially just, and environmentally sound family farms. To learn more about RAFI’s work, visit rafiusa.org. or call (919) 542-1396.

Rooting for Roots

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

ASHEVILLE NC – This April look for roots on farmers market tables and at Appalachian Grown partner restaurants during ASAP’s Get Local roots month. Local roots – from beets and carrots to radishes and turnips – are some of the first veggies of the season to get snapped up by local chefs. Served roasted, puréed in soups, and fresh on salads with local greens, they say springtime on a plate.

Trying local roots will keep you busy all month long as the early radish and turnip crops will give way to fresh beets and carrots later in the month. Local chefs are still using storage crops like sweet potatoes on their menus and don’t forget about specialty roots like ginger and turmeric.

Think roots aren’t for dessert? Think again! The Hop Ice Cream Cafe is serving up both a beet swirl ice cream (with local red and golden beets) as well as a sweet beet ice cream – both flavors are available in dairy and vegan varieties. Ask The Hop about Appalachian Grown certified farms that they source from for their ice cream! Visit The Hop at both their locations on Merrimon Avenue and in West Asheville as well as at the Mother Earth News Fair on April 12 and 13 at the WNC Agricultural Center.

ASAP is a supporting partner of the Mother Earth News Fair and we will be joined by will be joined by many Appalachian Grown farms and retailers at the fair. Our booth will be the first place to pick up the 2014 Local Food Guide-hot off the press!

Visit ASAP’s website at asapconnections.org/getlocal to find details on what’s happening this month. You can also Get Local at home: Find each month’s featured food—and other seasonal products—at your neighborhood farmers tailgate market, roadside stand, or grocery store. Browse for markets, stands, and stores via ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.


ASAP’s mission is to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and supporters, and build healthy communities through connections to local food. To learn more about ASAP’s work, visit asapconnections.org, or call (828) 236-1282.

ASAP Presents ‘Meet Your Farmer’ CSA Fair

Monday, March 21st, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NC – ASAP is thrilled to announce that we’re hosting a CSA fair on March 26, and we hope you’ll be there! Our Meet Your Farmer CSA Fair will be your opportunity to meet farmers face-to-face and learn more about their CSA programs and products.

Just what is a CSA anyway? CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. As a CSA farm share member, you pay the farmer in advance for “shares” of the season’s bounty. Then, you get to enjoy a steady supply of fresh foods, from meats to veggies, straight from the farm every week!

What: 2011 Meet Your Farmer CSA Fair
When: Saturday, March 26 from 2-6 pm
Where: Asheville Brewing Company, 77 Coxe Avenue in Asheville; free parking in the Cooperative Extension parking lot (Coxe at Hilliard)
Who: Open to the public; the event is FREE! Farms slated to participate have CSA pick up locations in Asheville and include:

Can’t attend? Find a list of more than 90 farms offering CSAs in our online Local Food Guide HERE.