Coronavirus uncertainty impacts local farm economies

No doubt, 2020 will be known as a year of change; good, bad, and lasting. The global coronavirus pandemic has forced shifts and pivots in almost all industries and facets of life. The food system is no exception. As the resiliency of the local food system is challenged, some farmers and food producers will find […]

Growing peas and finding peace in the Piedmont

The English peas are finished. Given the long spell of mild weather we’ve enjoyed this year, I’d hoped this cool-weather crop might last a bit longer. Alas, they still flamed out in a matter of weeks. English peas (Pisum sativum) are the very essence of a Piedmont spring – sweet and tender and all too […]

Pandemic highlights food chain workers’ precarious and essential positions

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, news headlines have called attention to both “essential workers” in the food system, such as farmworkers and grocery store employees, and extensive job losses for food system workers, primarily in retail and restaurants. There are requests for contributions to virtual tip jars and for customers to buy gift cards from small […]

This week: Environmental justice speaker at UNC Charlotte

Naeema Muhammad, organizing co-director of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network, will speak on campus this week at UNC Charlotte. Muhammad’s work includes a focus on promoting health and equality for people around issues of air quality, water quality, coal ash, fracking and more, through grassroots organizing and grassroots solutions. Her career ncludes advocating for […]

How our changing landscape sustains us all

Ecosystems such as forests and wetlands provide clean air and water, food, building materials and recreational opportunities. The benefits people receive from nature are referred to as “ecosystem services.” Our interactions with ecosystems can have a positive impact, boosting our health and the economy. We can also have a negative impact on the health and […]

Farms and sprawl: Conservationists worry they’re losing the battle

About 45 minutes from Charlotte in neighboring Cabarrus County, the owners of 1,000-acre Porter Farms raise chickens and pigs on part of their land. The chickens are sold to Tysons Foods, and the pigs become sausage, pork chops and spare ribs for Smithfield Foods. Another part of the property is a cattle farm, and since […]

Farm-to-table: A trendy-but-tenuous urban-rural connection

It’s Monday, and farmer Isaac Oliver begins his week at the computer. Out on their 72-acre Harmony Ridge Farms in Tobaccoville, Isaac and dad Kevin raise ducks, harvest eggs and grow produce. At the start of each week, Isaac emails his list of available products to nearly 70 restaurants in Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Raleigh and […]

Davon Goodwin is manager of Sandhills AGInnovation Center in Ellerbee, NC  Behind him is a hemp cover crop. Photo: Nancy Pierce

A ‘crisis that’s brewing’: How this program plans to help NC farmers

On weekday mornings, Davon Goodwin drops off his son at elementary school and heads to the Sandhills AGInnovation Center in Ellerbe to see what the day will bring. Some days he plants vegetables or fruit at the center, occasionally with the help of volunteers. When farmers show up needing a tractor, tillers or mobile refrigerated […]

Volunteers for  Sandhills Farm-to-Table, subscription-based community supported agriculture (CSA) and online food store pack just-picked local produce into delivery boxes at Sandhills AGInnovation Center. Photo: Nancy Pierce

Connecting our region through local food systems

In any conversation about strengthening urban and rural connections, local food systems are usually suggested as the prime example. Images of farmers’ markets come to mind, where urban consumers have the opportunity not only to buy fresh fruits and vegetables but to get to know the growers and producers. The food system in reality is […]

Rural by Choice: Navigating identity in the Uwharries

“A bus ticket and a bologna sandwich.” That’s a colloquial interpretation of the solution many economists suggest for addressing economic challenges in rural areas – move to a city where there’s more opportunity. While this school of thought acknowledges barriers that can make it difficult to relocate – education levels, job skills, housing costs – […]