5 Apr, 2021

Farmer Spotlight: Meet Christina Benton – A farmer whose purpose is to improve food access

By |2021-04-06T00:49:29+00:00April 5, 2021|Farmers, Fruits, Newsletter, Spring, Vegetables|0 Comments

Photo Courtesy of Christina Benton

Spring brings light and hope, a much-needed sentiment after last year’s gloomy anxiousness for our health and well-being of our loved ones, as well as the threatening worries of our country’s economic condition.

Many of us struggled as we saw, or even experienced first-hand, the already unjust structures of our current food system hitting economically distressed communities, low-income households, and Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color with the hardest blow. 

But, just as spring brings light, there are also luminaries who shed the light of kindness when it’s most needed. 

When you meet Christina Benton, you meet a farmer who not only grows a traditional market farm but goes beyond to think about who might receive her produce on the other end. Her main focus is ACCESS.

After leaving her job as a forensic anthropologist and moving back to North Carolina, Christina wanted to alleviate a current pain point in our food system. She founded Janco Community Farms, a model centered around the idea of taking unusable lots in food apartheid areas, food deserts, and low-income housing communities around Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Then, Christina turned them into small food production areas to feed fresh and nutritious food for those who lacked access. But, once the pandemic hit, Christina thought of expanding the one thing she knew how to do: grow food to feed others.  

Her vision grew when she contacted Carolina Farm Trust (CFT) to see if there were any opportunities available to expand her mission. In her own words, it happened serendipitously. 

“Our largest lot was only a ¼ acre, and I […]

27 Aug, 2020

Partnership Announcement: The Urban Farm at Aldersgate

By |2020-09-09T10:47:23+00:00August 27, 2020|Farmers, News|0 Comments

We are thrilled and honored to announce a new partnership at the Urban Farm at Aldersgate. Wisdom and Cherie Jzar, founders and owners of Deep Roots CPS Farm, will manage the Urban Farm at Aldersgate over the next 6 months as we develop a longer-term transition plan. Under Wisdom and Cherie’s mentorship, Sam Hargrove will help manage the daily operations of the farm. 

Carolina Farm Trust and Deep Roots CPS Farm share the goal of ensuring equitable access to healthy, fresh, and affordable foods. The alignment of our work will undoubtedly potentiate the multitude of benefits that the Urban Farm can bring to Charlotte’s East Side. In addition, we at Carolina Farm Trust are excited to support Wisdom and Cherie as they usher in Sam as a Black farmer working in urban agriculture. 

Wisdom and Cherie bring to the farm a wealth of knowledge and experience in agriculture, business administration, and community building. They are passionate about connecting the community to nutritious food, inspiring the next generation of farmers, intergenerational engagement in farming, and reducing racial barriers to farming. We hope that this will be just the beginning of a long-term partnership between Carolina Farm Trust and Deep Roots CPS Farm, and we look forward to the coming months.

Please follow Deep Roots CPS Farm on social media and support their work! https://www.facebook.com/Deeprootscpsfarm/ and https://www.instagram.com/mrsjzarurbanfarmer/

5 Jul, 2017

West End Event Will Celebrate Farms And Fun

By |2020-09-09T10:47:24+00:00July 5, 2017|Farmers, News|0 Comments

Pack your lawn chair and head to the West End this Saturday for a day of fun and food that will help support local farmers.

It’s a great opportunity to meet, greet, and eat while helping to improve food access in the city’s underserved areas.

While development is brisk on the west side of Charlotte, “food deserts” remain. Farmer Paul Brewington is one of the anchor vendors of the newly established Rosa Parks Farmers Market that serves the area. He’s a vocal proponent for the foods that are still hard to obtain for too many residents. “There is a quite a difference between the taste of fresh produce that is grown locally or a hundred-mile radius; a few hours old versus three to seven days old,” he says.

Zack Wyatt of advocacy group Carolina Farm Trust is one of the event’s organizers. He says, “Communities rise and fall based on food access. We need to break the little bubble we all live in and engage with our communities as a whole.”

Barbecue and side dishes will be available for a donation. At a “pop-up” version of the farmers market, guests can shop for food to take home. Proceeds will help Brewington build a greenhouse and expand his operation.

Paul Brewington, farmer
Credit Rosa Parks Farmers Market

The day’s activities will be filmed as part of a docu-series Carolina Farm Trust is producing, titled The Farmer That Feeds Us. Microphones will be set up so attendees can share their thoughts.

The event will be hosted by The Historic West End Partners and Johnson C. Smith University. Charlotte band Groove 8 will provide music.

A fundraising “Party with a Purpose” […]

22 Sep, 2015

‘We Hope To Influence People By Our Actions’: How One North Carolinian Plans To Save Local Farmers In The Carolinas One Farm At A Time

By |2020-09-09T10:52:21+00:00September 22, 2015|Farmers, News|0 Comments

When Zack Wyatt was laid off from his government contracting job in December 2014, he was mad — mad at himself, mad at those in his life, mad at his circumstance. But it didn’t take too long before he said passion got the better of him.

At just 35-years-old years old, Wyatt is a husband, the father of five children and the founder of Carolina Farm Trust, a new nonprofit organization that aims to protect farmland, support farmers in the Carolinas and foster an ecosystem of sustainable living. As Wyatt has said, “agriculture is long-term,” but as North Carolina relinquished hundreds of thousands of acres to urban and suburban development over the past few years, sustainable farming seemed pretty bleak.

Carolina Farm Trust, Wyatt told TheBlaze, is different from other nonprofits in that the organization doesn’t approach local farmers and say, “We want to help you, but you’ve got to do it our way.” Instead, the goal of Carolina Farm Trust is simple — the nonprofit purchases farmland and leases it back to local farmers with a lease that is perfectly tailored to the farmers’ vision. And from there, Wyatt said, the farmer can keep the land forever.

Worker Charlie Davis hauls a trailer of freshly picked flue-cured tobacco leaves during the harvest on land leased by Eaton Farms in Kernersville, North Carolina, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. Although smaller than last year, a quality U.S. tobacco crop endured a tough agricultural growing season in 2012. Photographer: Davis Turner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“We are entering into relationships with people, and the leases will be kind of designed to be never ending as long as they’re farming,” Wyatt told TheBlaze in an interview. “We will have a relationship with someone and design the lease terms […]

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 […]

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