One of the most unique aspects of the local food movement is the community that it creates. Continuously new businesses, organizations, and farms are cropping up and working together; competition is not exactly a bad thing in the world of local food, the more diversity the stronger the system. We are in a very exciting time for the Triangle—the importance of a local, sustainable food system is just now beginning to come to the forefront which means the creativity and drive are on an upward slant. From food production to backyard gardening to environmental justice to arts and education, you can find where your passions can support a sustainable food system. Join the budding community and sustain the movement. Here are some great people and organizations to follow in the area:
Durhamfoodie: Durhamfoodie is a blog by a travel and culinary writer based in Durham. She wrote A Food Lover’s Guide to Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill along with Barbecue Lovers’ Guide to the Carolinas. Her blog features events, farmers markets, cookbooks, recipes, restaurants, etc. Her website is: johannakramer.com, and you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Tarheel Foodie: Similar to Durhamfoodie but based in Raleigh, Tarheel Foodie is a blog by a woman who is building a sustainably and locally focused lifestyle. She has gracefully transitioned to a seasonal diet by slowly experimenting one step at a time. Her blog features recipes, events, farms, gardening tips, and general musings. For a good dose of curiosity and encouragement check out her blog at www.tarheelfoodie.com, you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter as well.
Piedmont Picnic Project: This is a blog that I just recently discovered, and I think they state their purpose better than I ever could: “The Piedmont Picnic Project tests the theory that the things we eat and drink and otherwise consume can be local, sustainable, and historical without being pretentious.” They host picnics with local food and incorporate Piedmont history and culture, teach classes, and blog about different gardening ideas, foraging tips, and recipes. If you need some inspiration to learn about the piedmont then a little trip to their website would certainly be a good first step: piedmontpicnic.com, they’re also on Facebook and Twitter.
Chop NC: For all you food fanatics out there, this is a group of “Culinary Historians” who meet on the third Tuesday of every month at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill. They feature a cookbook author or food writer and it is open to the public! Check out their website for their events and resources: www.chopnc.com
Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI): RAFI is a Non-Profit located in Pittsboro whose “mission is to cultivate markets, policies, and communities that sustain thriving, socially just, and environmentally sound family farms.” Their work is done through educational programs, direct contact with farmers, political and community involvement, and agricultural reform. Their website has information on all of their programs and how you can get involved: Rafiusa.org, also on Facebook and Twitter.
Interfaith Food Shuttle: IFFS is an organization dedicated to fighting hunger in new and innovative ways. They use education, in-school nutrition programs, community gardens, job training, they “go directly to people in need and create what works to empower them.” Their website is full of information on all of their different programs and the many ways you can get involved and volunteer. Foodshuttle.org, also on Facebook and Twitter.
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association: CFSA is a Non-Profit that helps build the sustainable, organic food system of the Carolinas with education, building systems, and working for fair farming policies. The programs they focus on are: education, advocacy, food systems, and farm services. They host farm tours every year in different areas of the Carolinas so you can get out and see the farms that are providing your food! Check out their website for events and volunteer information: www.carolinafarmstewards.org
The Center For Environmental Farming Systems: “CEFS develops and promotes just and equitable food and farming systems that conserve natural resources, strengthen communities, improve health outcomes, and provide economic opportunities in North Carolina and beyond.” They do so with education, community organizing, creating clean technology, and creating economic opportunities. Their website is full of information, research, and resources: www.cefs.ncsu.edu and they are on Facebook.
SEEDS: SEEDS is an urban garden in the middle of Downtown Durham that acts as an “urban sanctuary” that promotes sustainable practices, education for adults, youth, and children, and food security. You can volunteer in the garden, teach your skills to others, cook food, or just attend their events and dinners. www.seedsnc.org and their Facebook page have information on all of their programs, mission and vision statements, and events.
I hope that the simple knowledge that these amazing organizations exist in our area is enough to inspire you. Get out there and get your hands dirty! Eat good food, talk to people you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to meet, shake hands with the farmers who feed you. We can’t have a sustainable food system without knowing each other and spreading the word.