Just west of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River, a start-up farm and food council is emerging with a vision to fill small farmers’ wallets with money and the Charlotte region’s plates with local food.
Two different organizations in the Charlotte region are using borrowed land and volunteer labor to get fresh, local food on the plates of people who need it most.
Two years ago, Cabarrus County remade its economic development strategy, doing less to woo big businesses and more to nurture small businesses and local food producers. The shift ignited a sometimes contentious debate between business people and county officials.
A national trend had come home to North Carolina. Fed by a growing interest in local food, residents in the Charlotte region and nationwide are flocking to farmers markets. Communities are opening new markets or expanding hours, and vendors are responding by elbowing for sales space.
Organizers this weekend will publicly launch the Charlotte Urban Farm Project, planting crops Saturday on a vacant uptown plot. It’s part of a larger venture that organizers hope will cultivate a greater sense of community as it brings together refugees and others to grow fresh, local food at sites throughout the city.
The farmer points toward a long stretch of turned earth warming in the sun. Tomatoes and squash will grow well there, and more crops over there. Behind him, fruit trees cast shadows. It’s bucolic enough you almost forget the steady buzz of traffic behind you. Because this farmer is, in fact, a store owner, and this farm is in downtown Matthews.
The Charlotte region boasts abundant farmland and an increasing number of residents hungry for locally grown food. So why does so much of food come from thousands of miles away? This article was written for the institute's newest online communication page, http://PlanCharlotte.org. We hope you'll visit PlanCharlotte for more news, information and analysis about how our region is growing.
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