Any given farmers market parking lot contains a familiar spattering of bumper stickers: “Buy Local.” “Support Your Local Farmer.” And for Mike Smith of Big Oak Farm in Cabarrus County, none of them are the answer.
“Demand has outpaced supply for at least 10 years now, ever since we started doing farmers markets,” he says. Smith, whose family has been farming on the same land for over 150 years, has the market to sustainably expand his operation, with locavores and farm-to-table restaurants clamoring for his pastured beef and pork.
But rapid development and resulting rising land prices stand in his way– and threaten the area’s local food supply.
“Once you start putting down concrete,” he says, “it’s never going to go back to farmland again.”
Zack Wyatt, a Northern Virginia farm kid turned Charlotte transplant, began noticing the Carolinas’ disappearing farmland after reading local blogger Lisa Leake’s book “100 Days of Real Food,” which details her family’s conversion to locally grown whole foods. He remembers the farm-rich region of his youth getting developed “in a matter of a decade,” and sees areas like Ballantyne and Huntersville heading briskly in the same direction. So in the short space of a few months he founded the Carolina Farm Trust, rounded up a dizzying list of local partners and organized the Carolina Jubilee.
The two-day music festival at VanHoy Farms in Harmony, NC, Oct. 16 and 17 aims to raise the funds to purchase 40 acres of farmland for Big Oak Farm to lease back at an affordable rate– bringing more local food to the tables that are waiting for it, and saving more pasture from concrete.
It’s a lofty goal and Wyatt knows it– so does Smith, who hung up on Wyatt […]