10 Jul, 2015

Carolina Farm Trust plans to buy up land before developers do to preserve our local food movement

By |2020-09-09T10:47:24+00:00July 10, 2015|Farmers, News|0 Comments

I admit it; I buy produce at Trader Joe’s. Lots of it! I know it comes from Mexico and California and anywhere but here and the blueberries don’t even taste like blueberries, but I buy it because it’s there and it’s familiar and it’s cheap. And that’s precisely the consumer habit Zack Wyatt hopes to disrupt with Carolina Farm Trust, an early-stage organization aimed at protecting the farmland that feeds us here at home.

Every year North Carolina loses 100,000 acres of land to urban and suburban development making it harder and harder for existing farmers to expand their operations or for new entrepreneurial farmers to enter the business. Zack’s plan is for Carolina Farm Trust to buy up available land before developers do and then lease it back to farmers at reasonable rates.

Land is a limiting factor for a lot of family farmers, who live on a nationwide average income of $16,000. (Farmers on the East Coast earn about 35% less than the national average.) Take, for example, Mike Smith, a cattle farmer in Kannapolis. He needs 3 acres of land for every 1 cow he raises at Big Oak Farm, which has been in his family for over 100 years.

Or there’s Elizabeth Anne Dover whose family’s vineyard and farm seem out of place at a busy intersection with a gas station and a large grocery store, a result of encroaching suburban development in Concord.

It’s not an easy task, but it’s a necessary one. “What I’m talking about here is really hard work,” Zack says on our […]

6 Jul, 2015

Cornelius Resident Hopes To Cultivate Network of Farms, Fans of Good Food

By |2020-09-09T10:47:24+00:00July 6, 2015|News|0 Comments

By Dave Yochum. A 35-year-old Cornelius resident has established the Carolina Farm Trust to preserve not just farmland, but the agrarian way of life in North Carolina.

“We want to find farmers and match them up with land,” says Zack Wyatt, who lives with his wife  Abby and five children on Oakhurst Boulevard.

The brand-new Carolina Farm Trust aims to protect farmland, foster an ecosystem of sustainable farming and support the farm to table movement. Indeed, farmland is disappearing at the rate of 100,000 acres a year in North Carolina.

“We want to compete with developers for land, buy it, and lease it back to the farming community, to cover the taxes,” Wyatt says.

The fundraising goal for Carolina Farm Trust in the upcoming year is $300,000.

Wyatt is launching CFT with a bang. He plans to hold the Carolina Jubilee music and food festival Oct. 16-17 at Van Hoy Farms in Harmony, about 45 minutes north of here on I-77. There’s already a Facebook page, Carolina Jubilee.

Wyatt says the Jubilee will provide a venue for Carolina microbreweries, wineries, and farm related vendors to showcase their products and educate the community.

Another goal is to create a community of followers who will support and engage in the Jubilee. In turn, they will support the types of growers and farmers who farm the land—and sell healthier, fresher goods at farmers markets like the one in Davidson.

Wyatt hopes the trust can acquire small parcels of land here and there—they could become community gardens, for example—and larger parcels that could become incubator farms, or continue to be real working farms. In many cases farms are owned by a generation of older people whose children and grandchildren have no interest in farming. At the same time, open land is prized by developers who scrape it and plant houses by the hundreds.

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