‘Celebrity’ goats thrive on community support

March 12, 2010 at 11:11 pm Leave a comment

Here’s a post from Anna Child,  project coordinator for The Gillings Sustainable Agriculture Project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

I make sure to visit this blog regularly to keep up to date with local food happenings around the area. I wanted to contribute to the wide breadth of topics covered here by guest posting about current research on local foods that incorporates some of the progressive good food happenings in Pittsboro and Chatham County.

I work on the The Gillings Sustainable Agriculture Project, a two-year research grant titled, “Linking Local, Sustainable Farming and Health.” The project is headed by Dr. Alice Ammerman, Professor of Nutrition at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and Director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Along with a team of more than 50 researchers comprised of farmers, academics, economic development experts, students and others, Dr. Ammerman is researching sustainable agriculture’s beneficial relationship to public health outcomes, the environment and community economic development.

One aim of the project that we are currently working on intensively is researching the intersection of local food systems and community economic development in eight different counties. Chatham County has been identified as an area with a strong local, sustainable food system (not a big surprise to readers of this blog) that showcases community economic development resulting from their food shed. We’re now in the process of interviewing leaders within organizations, farmers, business owners, agriculture extension agents and others to hear how they believe Chatham’s local food system is playing a role in their economy.

As part of this initiative, a few weeks ago, I headed out to Celebrity Dairy for an interview with owner Brit Pfann. His first few litters for the spring had just been born, and amidst the baas of hungry baby goats, I talked with him about his farming history and his business. Our conversation revolved around what makes the multi-faceted local food system in Chatham work. Again and again, Britt brought up the amazing support network within the county. He spoke about his veterinarian, who has worked with his family to care for their goats for over fifteen years.

He also  brought up Agricultural Extension Agent Debbie Roos, who holds a position unlike most agents in the country, that allows her to focus solely on sustainable farming and small-scale agriculture. And he emphasized the incredible support of his customers. It was great to meet the man (and the goats) behind the delicious cheese and so much fun to see how sociable little baby goats can be. More than anything, my interview with Britt made me realize just how important a strong community support network is for small farmers in all facets of what they do to bring product to market.

As part of the Gillings Project, the case study that we’re working on will detail this strong community support that is one of the main reasons why the county’s food system has been so successful. The case study can be offered as an example to other communities trying to build their own local food systems and looking to emulate successful models. Emulating something like strong community support isn’t exactly easy, but the study hopes to give readers an idea of what it would take to begin building interest for local foods in their communities. We’ll be wrapping up our case study on Chatham soon, but to learn more about the entire research project, please follow this link.

–Anna will begin a masters program in Health Behavior and Health Education at UNC in the fall.

Entry filed under: Learning, Politics/ Policy, Sustainable Farming. Tags: .

Quote of the week UNC nourishes sustainable local food business

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