Behind Our Local Food: Fork to Farmer Documentary Release

— Written By
Image of garden

Photo courtesy of D. Morais.

Today’s technologies grant us the ability to do most things from our couches, namely ordering products and services. This activity is building a “convenience economy” and very quickly separating ourselves from the processes–and people–that provide us important goods and services. This disconnect threatens the foundations crucial to a thriving society, such as meaningful interactions and healthy food, and has resulted in the fading of rural towns responsible for our heritage and current prosperity.

Recognizing this disconnect, a growing movement has emerged. Localism, or consumers’ preference for goods produced within their community, has come to the forefront in recent years, especially in the food scene. Duarte Morais of NC State’s People-First Tourism Lab prompts foodies to “take the next step in their love affair with local foods by getting to know the farmers that devote their lives to producing the fresh, delicious ingredients that are used by our most celebrated chefs.” Fork to Farmer seeks to do just that. Morais and his Extension colleagues Susan Jakes and Becky Bowen, aim to energize local foods tourism marketing coalitions in North Carolina to fuel more revenue for small farmers through increased sale of hands-on farm experiences and farm product to visitors and chefs. Tourism Development Authorities in participating counties provide funding for the films featuring a celebrated local chef and the small farmers they admire. In turn, their local county Extension peers leverage the energy generated by the films to entice the development of networks of farmers that meet periodically to discuss business opportunities, to meet chefs and tourism companies, and to participate in training programs.

The Fork to Farmer team has just released a short documentary about the importance of small farmers to the success of North Carolina’s culinary destinations and the vibrancy of rural communities. The film builds the case for the development of a different economy: an economy that is not distant nor strictly financial, but relies on producers and consumers cherishing the knowledge, values, and stories behind their products. Listen to community partners–chefs and farmers alike– share their rich insight from experience with Fork to Farmer.

Contributors:

Becky Bowen, J.D.

Bruno S. Ferreira, Doctoral Candidate.

Susan Jakes, Ph.D.