CFWNC recently approved three Food and Farming grants totaling $73,500. The grants include:
- $47,000 to Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) to build on the existing Appalachian Grown (AG) brand and strengthen local food distribution networks in WNC. Over the next year, ASAP will focus on strengthening partnerships between farmers and wholesale distributors. Training and technical assistance and affordable AG-branded marketing and promotion materials will help farmers and distributors meet more consumer demand for certified local products. It is anticipated that 200 farmers will participate in the technical assistance program and use the branded marketing and promotion materials and that $5,000,000 in local farm sales will be attributed to the wholesale distribution system in WNC.
- $16,500 to Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) for operating expenses for the WNC FarmLink program, which links new and expanding farmers to available farmland. WNC FarmLink is a regional effort to address the challenges of aging farm owners and growing demand for land by people who want to farm, many of whom have limited access to land or capital for equipment and start-up expenses. Partners in WNC FarmLink include SAHC, NC Cooperative Extension, ASAP, the Organic Growers School, regional Resource Conservation and Development Councils and county Soil and Water Conservation Districts. The WNC FarmLink program is an important step for the region in maintaining, protecting and utilizing prime arable soils and grazing lands for agriculture.
- $10,000 to the Southwestern Commission to support the Western NC Food Policy Council Training and Outreach (WNCFPC). WNCFPC has operated under the sponsorship of Western Carolina University's Public Policy Institute for two years. It brings together agricultural producers, farmers, food security and economic development agencies and community leaders to address issues related to the agriculture economy and food security in the seven westernmost counties of NC.
"Making improvements in the local food system, including food distribution networks and nutrition, requires engaging multiple partners and strengthening the existing networks of farmers, landowners, wholesale food operations, food policy experts and hunger relief organizations," said CFWNC President Elizabeth Brazas. "These grants build upon existing infrastructure to help regional farmers and families. We understand that partnership is at the heart of our work in Food and Farming, and we are pleased to support these collaborative efforts."
Through the Food and Farming focus area, CFWNC contributes to the revitalization of a sustainable local food system, maximizes economic opportunities for local farmers and food entrepreneurs and supports the sustainability and profitability of WNC farms. The Foundation also works to address food insecurity and facilitate nutrition and healthy eating. Since inception, the Focus Area has invested more than $303,000 in the region.