8 Sep, 2015

Do You Care About Local Sustainability? Introducing The Carolina Jubilee Farm Celebration

By |2020-09-09T10:47:24+00:00September 8, 2015|Carolina Jubilee, News|0 Comments

This adventure started for me at the beginning of the year. I got laid off from my job, a new start-up breaking into the wonderful world of government contracting. As with most people who get laid off, time suddenly slows down, the blinders come off and the reevaluation of your life starts to begin.

I grew up in a farming community. I loved and hated it. We had a pretty large garden, butchered a few hogs, got our eggs from our own chickens. My dad hunted and we got beef from the neighbors’ cattle farms. This is not to say we didn’t go to the grocery store, but when we did, it was to supplement what we did at home. I have fond memories of how I grew up and the only part I truly didn’t like as a kid was the work but those memories fade and only the good ones remain.

As a father of five, I struggle with now living in a development in suburbia. My kids never have to go far to find a friend to play with, the chores are limited to a few rooms and it seems like there is always something to do. But there is something missing.

You learn a lot living in a farm community: about life and death, what hard work looks like, how to problem solve, how to best utilize limited resources, how important community is.

I never envisioned being involved in a nonprofit let alone starting one. I knew that if I ever was to be affiliated, it would have to be about a great cause that I knew a lot about and could actually make change. One thing that I knew from the very beginning […]

28 Aug, 2015

Protecting The Land That Feeds Us

By |2020-09-09T10:47:24+00:00August 28, 2015|News|0 Comments

Are you savoring the farm to table movement? Love farmer’s markets? Think about this: While you are shopping and dining, North Carolina is losing more than 100,000 acres of farmland a year to development.

It is rare that reading an interview inspires me to schedule a meeting. Like you, I already have enough of those on my calendar. But when Zack Wyatt was interviewed on WBTV about his vision for Carolina Farm Trust on a Friday morning early in July, I couldn’t resist. And as it turns out he wanted to talk to me, too.

Recently I’ve been working on a plan for a Food Innovation District to catalyze the development of food businesses for many reasons, but one of them is to increase the demand for local food in the Piedmont region. We consume more than a half-billion dollars in produce alone that we don’t grow here. But our farmers will not be able to increase their capacity without farmland.

And in addition to increasing capacity for existing farmers, we need new ones who use sustainable practices. But the cost of land is a barrier to entry. And year-to-year leases on land involve a great deal of risk. Who wants to invest in amendments to improve soil quality when your lease might not be renewed?

Zack wants to bridge that gap. Through Carolina Farm Trust his intention is to purchase farmland and lease it at cost to farmers who have a business plan to grow produce sustainably and raise pastured livestock. He’s eager to start now, which I can entirely appreciate. Because for every day that passes, more acreage that has been dedicated to food production is being purchased and developed into housing subdivisions. Zach grew […]

24 Aug, 2015

Working for Change

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

Even though it seems like everyone’s lamenting pumpkin ale on the shelves and tweeting #StillSummer, fall is undeniably in the air. That means a lot of things: back-to-school and football1 and maybe even the urge to shift from the lazy days of me-centric beach time to a something a little more altruistic.

Volunteer opportunities don’t necessarily ebb and flow with the calendar, since worthwhile organizations could always use the help, but the 9/11 Day of Service is a big one for the Triangle. Coordinated by Activate Good, the initiative is in its fourth year and aims to bring together 2000 citizens in volunteerism and just plain kindness for more than 40 local causes.

As I was writing this story it occurred to me that volunteering can seem like the time equivalent of eating your veggies. Something that you do because you have to meet a class requirement, or community service quota, or some other mandatory reason. Yeah, I may be a veggie geek2 but I can honestly say that the times I’ve given my time away are some of my fondest, moving memories of my four years in Raleigh: cleaning out a chicken coop, gathering eggs and picking okra for the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation at Interfaith Food Shuttle; scraping black paint off windows to let the light pour in; gathering food donations for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina; writing letters to overseas soldiers under a giant American flag.

If you’re ready for that feel-good feeling, all are welcome to join in on 9/11, whether as an individual or group. You can choose to beautify a school, package food for those in need or put your creative talents to good use. Daytime service projects — like “Painting Some Sunshine” […]

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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