Thursday July 9, 2009 | A Nation of Farmers

July 8, 2009 at 9:02 am | Posted in Coming Up | 19 Comments

The local food movement continues to grow in our region. Concord author Aaron Newton joins us to talk about this movement and his book A Nation of Farmers. We’re also joined by Christy Shi who runs an organization aimed at bringing local farm food right to the doors of families in our region. We’ll talk about small farms, backyard farms, local food and hear from a doctor about the benefits of local fresh food.
Aaron Newton
– Co-author, A Nation of Farmers
Christy Shi – Owner, Know Your Farms
Dr. Michael Smith – President, Carolinas Natural Health Center

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  1. Be on the look-out for the “Local Food Cart” around town during the week,
    and at the Charlotte regional farmers market (on Yorkmont rd.) on Saturday mornings. Run by Grateful Growers, the bright orange, kitchen on wheels uses local produce, meat, eggs, and cheese, and whips up some tasty items that are fresh and seasonal!

  2. Chris:

    Please ask your guests to comment on the rise in the number and influence of the local area farmers markets, and how the markets are able to educate customers about what can be grown and eaten on a seasonal basis…such that we should figure out what to do with items we might not otherwise see very often.


    • Hi George,

      There has been a significant rise in the number of markets in the US over the last 10 years (71% increase in number). We’re seeing this reflected in the Charlotte area as well.

      Farmers’ markets are a great way to begin eating locally. Those markets that restrict their growers to those within a mile radius and do not allow resale perform that important educational work of telling us what is in season.

      Unfortunately, many markets in the Charlotte area allow farmers to sell food that they do not grow. This starts to diminish the ability of the market to educate consumers around seasonality.

      Furthermore, it introduces confusion as to what is possible to grow here. Pineapples do not grow here. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t purchase them. But if the farmer is selling pineapples, don’t assume that the other things on the table are grown locally just because they could be. If she’s selling you pineapples from a box, she may very well be selling you tomatoes from a food distributor or a wholesale auction.

      Thus, it is *essential* that shoppers ask the farmer “did you grow this and if so, where?” If they answer yes, you can ask the follow up questions about their growing methods, if you are concerned about pesticides and the like.

      The only three markets in the Charlotte area at this time that are local growers only (no resale) are the Matthews market (Sat), the South End Tailgate market (Tues/Sat), and the Davidson market (Sat). ANY other market, to my knowledge, is NOT requiring the food sold to have been grown by the person selling it, nor for the food to have been grown here.

  3. In the town of Davidson, there are at least two community garden efforts underway…two different parts of town…to go along with the one that’s been in existence for a while!

  4. We need more greenhouses and hoophouses. Please have the guests address this imortant season extending process.

  5. I’m not a huge vegetable fan (hey, I’m 21 also) and I was wondering what other products I can get from local farmers and farmer markets that I can use to support my community.
    (Also, why do you need TV when you have WFAE?)

    • Hey! At the Tailgate Market right now aside from vegetables, there is plenty of great fruit, blueberries, blackberries, watermelon, cantaloupe etc. Also grass fed beef, pastured pork, prepared foods, baked goods, jewelry………plenty of good stuff. Hope to see you there!

    • Hi Van,

      I don’t have a TV either. 🙂

      So I wasn’t a huge vegetable fan when I started down this rabbit hole. In fact, I grew eggplant in my garden because it was the only way I was willing to taste it. (I figured if I invested in its growth, I would eat it.) But the more I’ve been eating fresh vegetables, the more I like them. As Mike said on the show…you can retrain your tastebuds.

      That said, a little bit of bacon grease goes a long way to making a lot of foods taste better. 🙂

      Food that I eat in my local diet includes: a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts (pecans, black walnuts), mushrooms, cheeses (chevre, feta, mozzarella, cheddar, farmers’ cheese, queso blanco), red meat (beef, ostrich), poultry (chicken, turkey), and pork. We purchase grains from Anson Mills, which means they’re being shipped from SC, but we’re practicing the bull’s eye diet Aaron mentioned…it’s the closest we can get it.

      These foods we make available through our Local Food Club, which works like a Sam’s Club. Pay a membership fee to participate and then place orders a la carte, which we pick up from the farms and deliver into Charlotte.

      Definitely take a spin around the Davidson, South End, or Matthews markets, though. You’ll be surprised at what you can find.

  6. I manage the all-local Charlotte Tailgate Farmers Market in SouthEnd, and speaking from the experience of building a market from the ground up, consumers have been heavily influenced by the messaging from the industrial agriculture giants. I am learning that we have to think outside the traditional market models to engage and educate consumers. Consumer education is our biggest challenge right now. I lose sleep when our farmers go home at the end of a market event with produce and other farm goods when the demand should far exceed our supply. It is unfortunate that convenience and bargain-basement pricing dominate our cultural values, at a very high cost to our environment and our health. How do we connect with people where they are?

    I challenge your listeners to see the movie Food Inc. this weekend, and to give some thought to who subsidizes the great deals that they get on “fresh” food at the big box retailers. Then visit a local food farmers market and see how many options you really have – we had at least 17 different kinds of tomatoes at The Tailgate on Tuesday evening. They weren’t all pretty, but they taste better than anything you’ll get from a reseller. And the dollars you spend at a local market go directly to the farmer.

    The Slow Food Charlotte Web site has a great list of local farmers markets. Ask questions wherever you shop and make sure you are talking to a farmer.

    Thanks for listening!

    Lynn S. Caldwell

    • Thanks Lynn. We linked Slow Food Charlotte on our websites.

      Erin Sutton, Web Producer, Charlotte Talks

  7. A terrific show and very informative!

    My husband and I no longer have our own small garden, but visit the Hickory Farmer’s Market each Saturday to select from a wide variety of locally grown vegetables and fruit. Attendance at the Farmer’s Market has grown remarkably since it first opened several years ago. There are more attendees and an increased number of stands selling fresh produce, including some organic farmers as well as a meat market provided by a local farmer.

    Communities working together and supporting each other is what we need to do to survive the change in our economy. We will all be healthier in so many ways.

    Thanks again for this timely show!

  8. Can you please give the name of where we can get locally grown rice/grains?

    • Try and

    • Hi Barb,

      You can order from Anson Mills, based out of SC. They grow organic, heirloom grains but are regional more than local.

      You can also visit the Bradford Store, in Huntersville. They pick up grits and other ground grains from the region. Those items are typically not organic.

  9. We will be hosting food historian Sandy Oliver at the Charlotte Museum of History on Monday, September 21 for a lecture on these topics! In addition to an audience, we’re looking for local farms and food organizations who are interested in demonstrating and promoting themselves and Charlotte’s slow foods movement. Check out our calendar for more information

  10. […] had a show on the topic of local agriculture — in interested, that radio show can be heard HERE. On the show was the author of a book about reviving local/regional agriculture; the author’s […]

  11. Cool site, love the info.

  12. The Farmer’s Creed:

    “Don’t Blame Me”
    by the U.S. Farmer.

    Blame the goverments for regulations for preventing me from doing what I want. Who cares whether I abide by good farming practices?

    Blame the goverments for making me do paperwork (Like no one else has to do paper work)

    Blame the weather. It is not my fault I planted the wrong crops this year.

    Blame the middle-market buyers who don’t pay me enough. I want more profit.

    Blame the insects. I want to use more insecticides to kill them. Who cares about pollution runoff?

    Blame the IRS for taxing me, even though I don’t pay much in taxes anyway.

    Blame the Agricultural Department for not raising subsidies. I want more subsidy.

    Blame the local government for not rezoning my property so I can sell it to a real estate developer for track housing. But don’t tax me on the gain.

    Blame the FDA for not allowing me to use additives. Like who knows?

    Blame the Immigration Department for not allowing more low-skilled migrants to process my product.

    Blame OSHA for forcing me to protect my workers from hazards. Get off my back.

    Blame the big agribusiness. Blame the polititions. Blame the lobbists. Blame consumers.

    Blame consumers for not washing their food better. Who cares about a little e-coli or salinoma from my product?

    None of this is my fault, so don’t blame me.

  13. I started my website as a joke. Who farms within city limits? I found out within one day that more than a few people do and a lot of them are fighting City Hall for their right to do so. Just like your guests today are fighting regulations written solely for the benefit of corporate farms.

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