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Last year, the Fork to Farmer project created six films highlighting celebrated chefs and their collaborations with local farmers. Utilizing these star chefs’ visibility, the “Fork to Farmer” films aimed to increase attention and revenue to small farms in rural North Carolina. This fall the USDA awarded several Local Food Promotion Program grants, of which, the Fork to Farmer program won with funding going to program partners NC State Extension Tourism and NC State Extension Local Food. Other USDA grant winners include CFSA,Working Landscapes, and Feast Down East.
More about the Fork to Farmer project:
NC State University’s Fork to Farmer project leverages high-profile chefs to enhance the viability of small farms through new direct-to-consumer income from product sales and farm visit sales. Fork to Farmer engages with chefs willing to serve as catalysts for a marketing campaign promoting farm experiences and products offered by small farmers, and an Extension program mentoring small farmers on how to pursue new market opportunities. The project will collaborate with tourism, local foods, and Extension partners to create short films focusing on partnerships between chefs and small farmers that supply them. The project will also build marketing coalitions that allow small farmers to sell farm experiences and products to the public. Finally, the organization will offer a train-the-trainer program that enables the recruitment and accompaniment of participating small farmers.
Through a 2016 pilot of Fork to Farmer, NC State University engaged high-profile chefs with video-production and social media efforts, obtained financial support for video production from participating counties, and partnered with a tourism retailer to sell farm experiences by participating farmers. The team is now positioned to use the resources afforded by this project to build on the concept and develop partnerships, processes, and materials to scale-up across the North Carolina and to other States.