If Vermont can do it, surely so can we, North Carolina! WNC has a particularly innovative local food culture, boasting one of the most vibrant food cultures in the country, infrastructure support for those systems, and developing extensive supply chain, regional and local economic development priorities for local, healthy food. However, WNC also has a reputation for siloing, a history of “stingy culture” (low wages and we are third in the nation for food hardship), duplication of efforts (highest per capita number of non-profits in the country is one example I’ve heard cited), factioning and turfism amongst local, regional and state organizations.. This lack of true cooperation is detrimental to our region, and perhaps why, even with all of our amazing accolades for a vibrant food culture, still only 2% of the food consumed locally is produced locally. We have alot of good, smart people with heart who perhaps can see beyond their turf to the bigger picture and come together to truly accelerate our local food economy, accelerating farmers out of poverty and accelerating better health for our populous . Maybe a little friendly “coopetition” with Vermont can ignite a vibrant statewide food systems serving ALL of WNC and the state.
“I have seen the future of how we can transition to a healthy local food system and it is in Vermont. Picture this: 180 people from all parts of the state’s food system, in one room, reflecting on how they have worked together over the past year in a coordinated way towards goals of doubling local food production, increasing jobs, and improving access to healthy food for all Vermonters. Picture a network that connects and provides the structure for collaboration among farmers, food processors, food businesses, retailers, consumers, policy makers, state agencies, university researchers, technical assistance providers, educators, non-profits, and funders. Picture these conversations informed by data and ideas gathered through in-depth research and stakeholder input of over 1,200 people in the state, summarized in a close to 1,000 page strategic plan” (eek, 1000 pages, but if 1200 people are implementing, maybe not so bad!).
Here’s the full article and I’ll be advocating for this with my friends in state, regional, local governments and the private and non-profit sectors :)