Purchasing and consuming locally grown foods has a lot of benefits. You get to know your neighbors and can learn a lot about agriculture and the way your food is grown. You can also experience products with different tastes and qualities that you cannot buy through commercial means such as a Cherokee purple tomatoes, blue eggs, or pasture raised beef. It is quite amazing that our agricultural systems can keep our grocery stores and restaurants supplied with only 1.5% of the population farming. Meeting the demand for food on a commercial scale produces challenges and trade-offs that can impact taste and quality. Local farmers can provide fresher and higher quality goods but have different challenges.
One of the tougher challenges for farmers selling locally is getting products to the hands of consumers without adding too much cost, time, or effort. Our farmers need support to meet these challenges and we are working to support them through a couple of means. On April 21st and May 19th, there will be two Farms to Families events at King Recreation Acres that will provide opportunity for the public to meet some of our local farmers and purchase goods. It will take place from 10 until 2pm so that families with challenging schedules can have access to a farmers market between sporting events and trips to the wonderful new playground.
The other way that we are working to support local farmers is through the assembly of a mobile poultry processing system that small farmers can use to process and sell meat. We received a grant from NC Agventures with support of the Tobacco Trust Fund and Stokes County Farm Bureau to purchase the equipment. This will soon be available for farmers to rent and be used to teach farmers how to process birds safely and meet sanitation standards. This will help to reduce the cost of processing and lower the total cost of raising and selling birds locally. If you would like to learn more, please contact the Stokes County Cooperative Extension office at 336-593-8179.