Feast Down East is an economic program developed by UNC Wilmington’s Dr. Leslie Hossfeld. She explains what the program is about:
“It’s an economic development program that addresses high poverty in southeastern North Carolina. We focused primarily on the challenged agriculture sector, and by targeting limited resource farmers and helping them to find new markets for their products. We do that by informing consumers and talking about the importance of buying local.”
While former tobacco farmers certainly participate in the program, Hossfeld explains that the small scale concept is much older than the tobacco buyout:
“Small scale farming is really the history of southeastern North Carolina. We do see new types of farmers developing since the tobacco buyout. Former tobacco farmers are finding new ways to retool and find new markets to tap into.”
Hossfeld explains that small scale farmers are beneficial to the rural economy:
“It’s an incredible ripple effect when dollars are kept locally. A lot of research shows that the large vertically integrated farming methods don’t have that same big ripple effect back into the local economy. Some studies show that the small scale farmer has about 50% more going back into the local economy that those vertically integrated agribusiness farm type of operations."
The local food movement, several years old now and getting stronger creates a win/win relationship for small scale farmers:
“We have several things going on. We have a statewide local food movement that is actually at the national level, it’s coming out of USDA. Michelle Obama is promoting a eat healthy buy local movement. We’ve got many things happening now that is helping to create this awareness that local food is healthier and helping the local economy. It’s not surprising that we’ve had increased demand for local food so we are able to match that demand with small scale farmers by helping them to build their capacity to meet this demand.”
To learn more about Feast Down East, visit their website, http://feastdowneast.org, or visit our website, sfntoday.com for a link.
Leslie Hossfeld, Executive Director of Feast Down East.