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 […]