Dec. 2020: What Farmers Need to Know (+ We’re Hiring!)

Here’s the top news for sustainable farmers in NC & SC

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CFSA's Grower's Toolbox
Dear Nahid,

As this challenging year comes to an end, I am excited to share that CFSA is hiring two positions that will help address some of those challenges in the new year. As many of you know, CFSA launched Farms Serving Hospitality and Restaurant Employees (FarmsSHARE) an emergency food assistance program that provides a free box of locally-grown produce and protein sourced from small, sustainable farms to households in need. Our exciting new position, Local Food Distribution Coordinator, will be responsible for transitioning FarmsSHARE into a long-term food distribution program that addresses persistent food insecurity and chronic health issues faced by many in our community.

While COVID-19 has exposed the shortfalls of the globalized food system it has also elevated the importance of the local food system, making now, more than ever, the time to increase our investment in and support of our local food system. CFSA’s Market Access Coordinator will be responsible for doing that by providing technical assistance to small, diversified, sustainable farms, food hubs, and farmer cooperatives by helping them meet market and consumer demands. Please consider joining our team or sharing these exciting new opportunities within your communities.

17d23be7-04af-4c4a-9488-363af1015381.pngAll of us at CFSA are wishing you, your loved ones, and your communities happy holidays and health.



Karen McSwain, CFSA Associate Executive Director for Programs

Need help with high tunnels?
Expert Tip: Variety Trials & Local Favorites
by Gena Moore, CFSA Organic Research Coordinator

We all know variety selection is a key factor in crop success. Here in the Southeast, we face issues like excessive summer heat, high humidity, and insect pest pressure—just to name a few. Choosing the right variety to fit your farm and market is more exciting than ever before with an expansive collection of cultivars to choose from. For example, there are thousands of tomato varieties grown around the world; however, there are certain types that carry resistance to our common diseases in the Southeast U.S. Even further, there are varieties that respond best to various trellising or that yield in flushes as opposed to consistent harvesting to suit different markets.

In this article, we will dive into some results of a recent variety demonstration conducted at CFSA’s research and education Farm in Concord, NC (Lomax Farm), as well as some favorite varieties from Carolina farmers. We hope this information helps you plan for big harvests next year! Keep reading.

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Digging Deep Into Collard Diversity
by Chris Smith, The Utopian Seed Project
As the executive director of The Utopian Seed Project, I’ve been working with Seed Savers Exchange, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and Working Food on a project to build a coalition of seed stewards, gardeners, farmers, chefs, and seed companies to preserve heirloom collard varieties and their culinary and cultural heritage.

There’s lots to love about The Heirloom Collard Project. Two highlights include:

  • A Collard Week of fantastic collard-focused presentations from folks like Michael Twitty, Chef Ashleigh Shanti, & Ira Wallace.
  • A 20-variety collard trial happening right now, which includes more than 230 gardeners across the nation and eight farm trial sites growing all 20 varieties. (I’m one of the lucky eight to have all those collards in my field!)

Now, I could tell you about all the wonderful collards we’re working with and recount the wonderful stories of some of those heirloom collards, but I feel this is a show, don’t tell situation. I want you to really understand the excitement behind this project, and to do that, I’ll have to take you to the edge of a rabbit hole and push you down. You may get lost in the labyrinth and not even finish this article. It’s possible you won’t emerge for many days, perhaps weeks, but when you do, you’ll have a new appreciation of the diversity of collards. Keep reading.

Need growing space?

There’s space available to growers at Lomax Farm, CFSA’s research and education farm in Concord, NC.

Whether it’s a field, greenhouse space, or a spot in our resident farmer program, let us know if you have questions or are interested. Email our farm coordinator, Dylan (dylan), for more information.

2020 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is conducting the second-ever Local Food Marketing Practices Survey now through February.

The survey will ask producers about their production and local marketing of foods during the 2020 calendar year, including the value of food sales by marketing channels such as farmers markets, restaurants, CSAs, and roadside stands. This information is vital to researchers, policymakers, farmers, ranchers, industry professionals, and USDA personnel who will use it to inform their work on local and regional food and agricultural systems.

Specific USDA programs that rely on this information include the Agricultural Marketing Service’s Farmers Market Promotion Program, Local Foods Promotion Program, and Specialty Crop Block Grants Program, the Farm Service Agency’s Microloan Program, the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives Program, and the Food and Nutrition Service’s efforts to expand EBT availability at farmers markets. The information is also used by state and local agencies, farmers, and ag organizations, and researchers and extension agents who support and promote local food markets.

Farmers and ranchers who receive the survey may complete it securely and conveniently online or by mail. The deadline is February 16, 2021.