Viable Career Choices

 

All in Watauga County have the opportunity to develop viable local farm and food business careers. 

IMG_6853 (1).JPG

Session Summary

Through the Results Based Action (RBA) planning process, the Promotion of Local Food System & Healthy Food to Consumers group developed a number of key strategies that our community can take to ensure that All in Watauga County Have the Opportunity to Develop Local Farm and Food Business Careers. They also identified a number of indicators that could help us better know what this goal looks like. Below, you will find the full notes from this Focus Area's action planning process. 

The top ranked strategies for addressing Viable Career Choices were:
1. Map the network of food system actors to identify resources and barriers to collaboration to create pathways to more inclusive food system collaboration.
2. Find data and stories around the economic/quality of life impact potentials of a strong local food economy.
3. Establish a Present Use Value (PUV) food economy fund.
3a. This was done by Cabarrus County, NC in 2009.
3b. County funds from PUV's deferred taxes that are used to support the local food economy.
3c. Community Food Strategies is currently writing a policy brief on this issue now.
Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 12.36.48 PM.png

Top ranked indicators for tracking Viable Career Choices:

  1. The number of local farmers that sell to local markets

    Pair these data points with the amount of sales involved in those transactions.
  2. The total local food dollars spent (perhaps broken down by product) compared to the amount of that being spent on local food (again broken down by product).

    The goal is to identify demand for products that could be grown locally as a way as a way to make the case that more local farmers could fill that demand.
  3. Amount of acreage in food production.

In addition:

The group discussed the word “careers” and the idea of a positive result being that those in the community could fit in with the local food economy in an inclusive way and be able to support themselves through the selling or trading of food related products.

Market stabilization was a key topic that kept coming up throughout the conversation, as well as the likely decrease of overall farm acreage due to a multiplicity of issues including market forces, heirs issues, development pressure, etc.


Viable Career Choices - Full Session Notes

Result Statement (This is the the goal of this Focus Area.)

ALL IN WATAUGA COUNTY HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO DEVELOP VIABLE LOCAL FARM AND FOOD BUSINESS CAREERS. 

Experience (If the result statement were true, what would you see, hear, or do? [in positive terms])

Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 10.01.55 PM.png
  • An employment office that provides transportation and a fair wage for temporary farm/food work.
  • A community farm space (like Transplanting Traditions) for people with barriers.
  • A mentoring program for first generation, aspiring producers that provides vocational training, within a network of farm/food enterprises. Could also occur through every realm of the economy.
  • A vocational training program that provides rehabilitation for people with barriers.
  • An increase in local food consumption by restaurants.
  • Enough land available for people to farm.
  • More four-season produce available.
  • Incentives and regulations to encourage more local purchasing.
  • A curbside compost program.
  • Increase markets, beyond the Saturday Watauga County Farmers’ Market.
  • A program or enterprise to train seasonal workers.
  • Happy, stress-free farmers → good weather, more markets.
  • More value-added opportunities for farmers (i.e. Kindly Kitchen as an example).
  • Consistent markets and connecting food to known markets, like grocery stores.
  • Remove barriers to markets, like insurance for small farmers.
  • Happy, fair-paid food-service employees.
  • Agritourism opportunities.

Indicators (How would we measure these experiences [data points]? The Focus Area group ranked the most important indicators [noted in bold].)

    • Number of farmers that sell to local markets and their farm’s sales dollars.
    • Average income of farmers.
    • Number of pounds/counts sold to consumers.
    • Accurate self-reporting that shows needs and successes.
    • Comparison of how much our community buys from local producers versus from non-local producers.
    • Number of farmers per capita.
    • Unemployment numbers by sector.
    • Number of interns/seasonal employees on farms and the types of farms that employ them.
    • Acres of land in food production, both produce and meat.
    • Demographics of who buys local and/or fresh food.
    • Total average of food miles for food consumed in Watauga County.
    • Number of sale spaces.
    • Number of direct sale dollars.
    • Number of CSAs.
    • Number of full-time residents.
    • Can farm/food workers afford healthcare.
    • How many hours do farm/food workers work.
    • Average income of all residents.
    • Number of home gardens.
    • Number of farm/garden/feed stores.
    • Degree of specialization and diversity of farms.
    • What does “local” mean and who has different definitions for it.
    • What land is available for crops.
    • Number of agritourism enterprises.
     

    What's working in Watauga County? 

    • Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture’s CRAFT program
    • The Food Hub
    • WNC AgOptions grants
    • ASU students as interns
    • Lettuce Learn
    • Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture’s grant programs
    • Peer-to-peer farmer trainings
    • Conserving farmland
    • Cooperative Extension
    • Farm School
    • Beekeeping Association
    • Specialty Associations (Cattlemen, Christmas tree…) and their field days
    • Several feed stores in the county
    • Several farmers’ markets
    • Bi-partisan political support in the county and town
    • Marketing locally-grown food
    • Linking climate change and local food

      Partners (Who already works, or could work, on Viable Career Opportunities in Watauga County?)

      • Beekeeping Association
      • Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture
      • Food Hub
      • Extension
      • ASU
      • Cattleman’s Association
      • Farmers’ Markets
      • ASAP
      • Appalachian Voices
      • Watauga Board of Commissioners
      • Christmas Tree Association
      • Chamber of Commerce
      • Restaurants Association
      • Town of Boone
      • Food Pantries and Banks
      • USDA
      • FSA
      • Blue Ridge Conservancy

      What could we do more of (or do) to make a greater impact? (The Focus Area group ranked the most important indicators [noted in bold].

      • Representatives from each organization to network, understand available resources and barriers; Inclusive collaborations, resources; Mapping the network of food-system actors
      • Connecting, bridging the divide; Finding out who is not at the table and why
      • Know (and inform) state/federal policy and officials, as wells as COG (?High Country Council of Governments?)
      • Incentivize, educated, and direct market opportunities
      • Tax breaks for businesses that source locally
      • Subsidize local services for farmers (bookkeepers, attorneys, etc.)
      • Sales liaisons, support for farmers
      • Create a data and story-driven VISION/Plan
      • Link Community of Gardens to pantries and training programs and incubate ideas (such as curbside compost)
      • Credit/Time bank
      • Trade
      • Identify Donors/Allies
      • Micro-pooled insurance that has meaning/flexibility
      • Stabilize markets - know pricing
      • Small money funds
      • Access to land - land link
      • Connecting FFA to FIG, BRC
      • Need ways to support new farmers - list resources
      • More Markets - Weekly farmers market downtown, Food pantries purchase local food, Collaborate/Cooperate for wholesale markets
      • Present Use Value - what is the county doing with deferred tax funds, land leaving farming
      Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 10.21.43 PM.png

      NEXT STEPS

      The Viable Career Choices group will meet in the next few weeks to begin to initiate its key strategies: 

      1. Map the network of food system actors to identify resources and barriers to collaboration to create pathways to more inclusive food system collaboration.
      2. Find data and stories around the economic/quality of life impact potentials of a strong local food economy.
      3. Establish a Present Use Value (PUV) food economy fund.
      3a. This was done by Cabarrus County, NC in 2009.
      3b. County funds from PUV's deferred taxes that are used to support the local food economy.
      3c. Community Food Strategies is currently writing a policy brief on this issue now.

      If you would like to become involved in this Focus Area's work or learn more, please contact Dave Walker (Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture) at craft@brwia.org.