‘Piedmont Grown’ means what it says

June 21, 2011 at 9:16 pm 1 comment

Does it drive you crazy when it turns out that the supermarket produce labeled “farm fresh” actually comes from China or Chile? How can we find out where our “fresh” food really comes from when the labels are hard to read and deliberately vague?

One answer for those of us living in North Carolina is the new “Piedmont Grown” label, which means what it says — this food was cultivated and harvested within our region.

Piedmont Grown is a new local certification program to clearly designate food and agricultural products that are grown, raised, or made within the 37 county Piedmont region, including the Triangle, Triad,and Charlotte areas.

The label helps consumers make informed buying choices that will benefit farms in the region and our local economy.

“Our mission is to support Piedmont farms and rebuild a regional, community-based, farm to fork, local food system,” says farmer Noah Ranells, board member of Piedmont Grown and Ag Economic Development Coordinator for Orange County. “We want to link consumers to local farm fresh foods, build local markets for farmers and food entrepreneurs, and grow healthy and prosperous communities.”

Local food retailers like Darren Stevens of Triad Meat Company in Greensboro are excited about being Piedmont Grown certified. “We believe our customers are looking for ways to get fresher, healthier food selections,” he says. “Being a part of Piedmont Grown is just one more way we can provide them with what they are looking for.”

Piedmont Grown will make its first public splash at the Farm to Fork Picnic at the Breeze Farm in Orange County on June 26th, and with the launch of www.piedmontgrown.org. The website provides a user-friendly local food directory and map spotlighting over 100 Piedmont Grown certified farms and businesses. The site also allows qualified new entities to become certified online. As the program grows, the website will become a central hub for consumers to find local food and to learn about the farmers and businesses that make up our local food economy.

“With so many consumers interested in buying local food we feel there is a need for a program like Piedmont Grown to both identify and reward those that provide it,” says Jay Pierce, Executive Chef of Lucky 32 Restaurants in Greensboro and Cary. “Piedmont Grown removes the mystery from local food purchasing.”

Piedmont Grown is actively certifying farms, farmer’s markets, groceries, restaurants, local food artisans, and other local food businesses. To become certified, members must meet standards and practices specific to their category and sign an annual license agreement to use the Piedmont Grown logo. The standards for using the logo are intended to protect the integrity of the brand and reinforce to the public that these are indeed Piedmont Grown products and businesses.
The annual certification fee of $100 has been prorated to $50 for 2011 and, thanks to a grant, is free for farms this year.

“We enrolled in Piedmont Grown to make the public aware that there are still family run dairies that process their own dairy products and are a valuable resource to the community in which they live,” says Teri Bowman from Homeland Creamery in the Julian community of Guilford County. “We do our own milk so we know it is fresh and isn’t mixed with other dairies as far away as New Mexico.”

The program is managed by Piedmont Grown NC Inc., an incorporated non-profit comprised of a Board of Directors that includes many local food visionaries. Current board members include Ranells and Pierce, as well as Dr. Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld (UNC-Chapel Hill) and Jonathon Romm (Elon University and Company Shops).  A keystone team helps to guide this effort and includes Debbie Roos (Chatham Extension Service), Marco Shaw (Eno Hospitality / Piedmont), Mike Lanier (Orange Extension Service), and Robin Crowder (UNC-CH Gillings Sustainable Ag Project). Piedmont Grown received support from the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and the Tobacco Trust Fund and is a partner with the 10% Campaign.

“Local means different things to different people,” according to Garland McCollum of Massey Creek Farm in Madison, Rockingham County. “Piedmont Grown is our effort to define local and identify those products that meet our definition. Small business is the force that drives the national economy. Identifying those local farms, restaurants, and markets that provide fresh healthy alternatives is a way we can all work to build our local economy, the national economy, and preserve our green space.”

For more information: www.piedmontgrown.org or info@piedmontgrown.org.

Entry filed under: Farmers' Market, Food Miles, Sustainable Farming, Sustainable Food, Whole Food/ Locavore Eateries. Tags: , , , , , , , .

A chance to change the world Time for a junk food tax?

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Carol  |  June 21, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    My deep appreciation for the folks that put this together and made it happen. Many of us have talked about wanting this kind of designation, but just didn’t have the time and resources to pull it off. I look forward to buying foods with this sticker, and encouraging everyone I know to do the same. We can make a positive difference with every dollar we spend.. Thanks so much to the Piedmont Grown team for making it easier.


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