Local Farms, Local Food, and Conservation in North Carolina

February 4, 2016

If you are what you eat, a community can also be shaped by what its members eat – or don’t eat.

This week, TLC’s Communications Manager Diana Hackenburg explored the connections between food security, local farms, and conservation in a piece for the Philanthropy Journal, an online resource for nonprofits based out of NC State University.

Farmland Conservation

Lindale Farm in Chatham County's Silk Hope community

Lindale Farm in Chatham County’s Silk Hope community

While many people are familiar with the wild lands protected by TLC, many are still unaware of our efforts to conserve working lands. TLC has worked with landowners throughout the Triangle to place conservation easements on agricultural lands. Though specifically tailored to the conservation goals of each landowner, these easements safeguard clean water, protect natural habitats, and usually provide some financial resources. The landowners can then choose to use these resources to sustain their farm, fund new equipment or ventures, or invest in their family or another venture; no matter their choices, the land and the benefits it provides to our community are conserved in perpetuity.

Though TLC’s service area is spread across six counties in the Triangle, strategic conservation initiatives allow us to target specific areas like those with high-value agricultural soils and historic or cultural significance. Examples include our Johnston County Farmland and Chatham County Working Lands initiatives. Silk Hope is just one of the farm communities to have benefitted from TLC’s conservation efforts. So far, over 1,500 acres in the Silk Hope community have been permanently conserved, supporting local families and protecting the community’s rich agricultural heritage, as shown in the video below:

Local Food

Milk from Maple View Farm in Orange County

Milk from Maple View Farm in Orange County

The article, which goes much deeper into the connection between local food and food security, also mentions that many of the farms TLC has helped conserve have products available for purchase by the public. Here are just a sampling of the local foods available from TLC conserved farms:

  • Green Button Farm – pasture raised poultry, pork, and beef as well as produce is available at the South Durham Farmers’ Market, through their CSA, and at local restaurants, including Picnic restaurant
  • Lindale Farm – a member of the Organic Valley co-op whose dairy products are available at local grocery stores
  • Lindley Farm – mozzarella cheesecakes, mozzarella cheese balls & mozzarella cheese available for purchase online via email
  • Maple View Farm – milk and ice cream available at local stores, the Maple View Country Store in Orange County, and the Maple View Mobile shop at University Place in Chapel Hill
  • Cohen Farm – Certified Organic hay and grain, Animal Welfare Approved free-range eggs, pastured beef and pork, and seasonal produce

Beyond working with individual landowners and farmers, TLC is examining ways to increase farmer access to our owned lands, support local food systems, and raise awareness of local farm and food issues. Examples of this type of work include our partnership with Transplanting Traditions Community Farm at Irvin Farm and our Wild Ideas for Feeding the Triangle event in October 2014.

Want to get involved in the local farms and food movement? Great! We hope you’ll consider becoming a TLC member and financially support our efforts to conserve additional farmland as well as steward the lands we’ve already protected. Continue to support local foods through your own purchases by choosing from farms like those listed above or those that sell at your local farmers’ market, or consider joining your local food council – both the Orange County Food Council and the Durham Farm and Food Network serve areas within TLC’s service region!

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