Three western North Carolina community colleges will partner with Western Carolina University and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems to expand business development support and training in farming and value-added production in the region.
Haywood, Southwestern and Tri-County community colleges will be involved in the project.
CEFS was awarded $1.1 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission to develop sustainable infrastructure for local and regional food systems in western North Carolina. The project will be done in collaboration with several regional partners and emphasizes technical assistance, market development, career ladders, value-added opportunities and other supply chain needs. Direct funding will be available to farms, value-added businesses and apprentices.
CEFS will convene partners around 10 objectives in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, to accomplish the overall goal of developing a sustainable infrastructure for local and regional food systems.
Students from the seven-county region will also receive supply chain and production training through an innovative apprenticeship program.
“We are excited to begin this collaboration with our partners in western North Carolina to grow the local food economy in the seven-county region,” said Nancy Creamer, CEFS director. “This project leverages CEFS’ supply chain and local food system development expertise and brings to bear the formidable strengths of our local partners to the challenges facing our Appalachian communities.”
CEFS is a partnership of NC State University, NC Agricultural and Technical State University and the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.