10% Campaign reaches $10 million spent on local food

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 15, 2011

In roughly 18 months, participants in the 10% Campaign have recorded over $10 million in purchases of locally-produced foods. The 10% Campaign is a statewide effort of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems to stimulate economic development, create jobs and promote North Carolina’s farms and fisheries.

More than 4,400 individuals and 427 businesses have signed on to the campaign through the website – www.nc10percent.com — pledging to spend 10 percent of their food budget on locally-sourced foods. Each week, participants receive an email prompting them to record the amount spent on local food that week.

Launched in July 2010 in partnership with North Carolina Cooperative Extension and with funding from Golden LEAF, the 10% Campaign has generated support across the state. At its one-year anniversary in July, the campaign reported expenditures of $5.7 million. Since that time, the dollars recorded on the site have nearly doubled to more than $10 million.

“Golden LEAF is proud to support the 10% Campaign, which benefits North Carolina farmers and fishermen and helps grow our state’s economy,” said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF president. “The $10 million mark is a true testament to the commitment of our agricultural community and the quality of North Carolina-grown products.”

The campaign was a game-changer idea from the Center for Environmental Farming Systems’ 2009 initiative, “From Farm-to-Fork: Building North Carolina’s Local Food Economy,” that included several action items for building North Carolina’s sustainable, local food system. The idea is that if all North Carolinians spent 10 percent of their food dollars on locally produced food, $3.5 billion would be available in the state’s economy.

Much of the campaign’s success can be attributed directly to its wide spectrum of partners. Among those pledging to spend 10 percent on local food are locally-owned businesses and community organizations including 76 restaurants; hospitals and medical centers; universities and colleges; and thousands of individuals. The campaign also encourages individuals to seek out and enjoy farm products from its farmers’ network across the state.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension has partnered with the campaign as well. In all the state’s 100 counties and the Qualla Boundary of the Cherokee Nation, extension agents designated as local food coordinators support the campaign by making connections between consumers, community businesses and local food producers. Cooperative Extension also hosts many public events and workshops in support of the campaign and local foods programs.

“The local food coordinators with Cooperative Extension provide a valuable link between their communities and farmers, as well as the local governments” said Campaign Manager Teisha Wymore. “We wouldn’t be where we are without them.”

Local governments, organizations and businesses may support the campaign in three ways: By pledging to spend 10 percent of their food budget on local foods; by encouraging their employees to join; or by promoting the campaign on a website, through email or through public events.

Brunswick, Cabarrus, Chatham, Guilford, Forsyth, Onslow and Rockingham counties have adopted resolutions in support of the campaign. In addition, Goldsboro, Southport and the Town of Knightdale have also joined the campaign.

Buy-local food labels are making it easier for consumers to identify and choose North Carolina food products – Brunswick Catch, Carteret Catch, Feast Down East and Piedmont Grown – are just a few of the local labels thriving around the state. All are partners of the 10% Campaign.

Large-scale food purchasers participating in the campaign include Centerplate hospitality, serving the Raleigh Convention Center and the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts; and the campus dining services at North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina-Asheville and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Health Care facilities like Pender Memorial Hospital and New Hanover Medical Center have committed their support by hosting employee farmers markets and serving fresh, local foods in their cafeterias.

“Developing and maintaining partnerships are pivotal to the campaign’s success. ” said Wymore. “These partnerships encourage consumers to look for local brands, support our business partners, foster viable farming communities and help the campaign track demand for local foods. We’re proud of our first year.”

Join the campaign
Individuals and businesses can sign up for the campaign directly on the website and track their spending and growing power on a weekly basis through an online interactive dashboard.

The 10% Campaign website also has a number of resources, including an online directory of organizations working to help consumers find farmers and sources of locally grown foods. Contact Teisha Wymore for information about the campaign at 919.515.0244 or nc10percent@ncsu.edu.

About the Center for Environmental Farming Systems: CEFS is a partnership among North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Its mission is to develop and promote food and farming systems that protect the environment, strengthen local communities and provide economic opportunities in North Carolina and beyond.

-Written by Natalie Hampton
source: http://www.cals.ncsu.edu