This report is the culmination of a multi-year research project funded by the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) program, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), whose goals include advancing knowledge about sustainable farming systems. This research explores: (1) what food and farm products are currently produced in the region; (2) how much of what is produced is also consumed in the region; (3) the potential for increasing local consumption of locally-produced food and farm products as a way to strengthen the regional farm economy; and (4) where investment of resources or other actions could eliminate barriers currently impeding the purchase of local food.
The report is based on the results from twenty separate surveys commissioned by ASAP and conducted between 2003 and 2007 as well as analysis of secondary data and published statistics. Stakeholders surveyed and interviewed include consumers, farmers’ market shoppers and vendors, North Carolina Cooperative Extension (NCCE) agents, farms engaged in Community Supported Agriculture, college foodservice directors, summer camp directors, child nutrition directors in public school districts, hospital foodservice directors, tourism agencies, personnel in Latino centers, dairy farmers, grocery stores, restaurants, and nursery growers. The geographic area studied is the twenty-three Appalachian counties known as Western North Carolina (WNC).