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Earlier this week, US Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Dr. Kathleen Merrigan kicked off her nationwide ”Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” College Tour here in North Carolina. The Center For Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) hosted Merrigan for free lectures at N.C. A&T State University and at N.C. State University February 9. As a national leader in the sustainable food movement, Merrigan spoke at NCSU’s Danbey Hall to an auditorium full of students, professors, farmers, chefs, and concerned citizens.

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (IFFS) staff had a moment to chat with the Deputy Secretary as she toured the NCSU Campus Farmers’ Market with CEFS. Farm Manager Steven Horton and Young Farmer Training Program Coordinator Mitra Sticklen had a chance to meet Dr. Merrigan and explain a bit about IFFS internship and training programs. She wished us the best of luck with these programs and suggested that there should be more programs like ours across the nation. Just a few hours later, many IFFS team members attended her NCSU lecture.

Merrigan’s approach toward whole-system food security is exciting because it connects all the pieces of our broken food system. She explained that the linked problems of diabetes, obesity, food insecurity, and malnutrition could be solved with combined efforts to practice healthy eating habits from an early age and create more local farms. Building a culture of healthy communities who eat fresh food within a vibrant local economy is the basic idea for Merrigan’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” campaign.  Her approach is to promote regional food systems by creating equal access to healthy food and new jobs, and focusing on young leaders to transform the food system.

In a nod to other successful programs at a national level, Merrigan highlighted the first anniversary of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative to fight childhood obesity and promote healthier lifestyles. Merrigan applauded Michelle Obama for bringing children’s diets in school and at home into the national conversation.

A USDA Press Release from the NCSU lecture quotes Merrigan as saying:

“The Obama Administration believes this is a historic opportunity to help win the future by laying a new foundation for economic growth, creating jobs and building and revitalizing critical infrastructure here in North Carolina and in rural communities across America through supporting and establishing local and regional food systems as an economic development strategy to keep wealth in local communities,”

In addition to offering many options for USDA internships for students in the audience, Merrigan also directed young leaders to apply for FoodCorps , a “yearlong term of public service in school food systems. Once stationed, FoodCorps members will build Farm to School supply chains, expand food system and nutrition education programs, and build and tend school food gardens.”  North Carolina is one of ten states chosen for 2011 FoodCorps through a partnership between CEFS and 4-H, and Merrigan urged audience members to join this year of service for North Carolina’s school food system.

The USDA team engaged the audience with interactive remotes, and Merrigan quizzed attendees about everything from nutrition education to profitable crops in North Carolina. Here are a few interesting statistics from her presentation:

  • 73% of the USDA budget is for nutrition education
  • 43.4 million Americans (that’s 1 in 7) are on SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps
  • 1 in 4 SNAP dollars are redeemed at Walmart
  • 45% of the food dollars spent in Detroit are SNAP dollars

Yikes! You can see from these numbers that our food system is in serious trouble, and we need some serious game-changers to face these challenges.

Merrigan briefly fielded a few questions about local crop sources in the military (see more on this blog), and a question from IFFS Farm Educator Sun Butler about organic farmers and a recent USDA recent decision to deregulate genetically engineered crops. While her response to this question was short and opened the doors for further discussion, she pointed to a strategy of “coexistance” between farmers who use organic methods and farmers who use genetically engineered crops. Merrigan closed simply by saying,

“Not every family needs an accountant. Not every family needs a laywer. But every family needs a farmer…Do you know yours?”


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Will Allen Recap

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Our recap of the Will Allen lecture last night is posted on our behind the scenes at the Food Shuttle blog. Were you able to attend? Let us know what you thought in the comments.

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Brains and Bodies

Advocates for Health in Action will be holding an interactive workshop about school gardening:  how school gardens positively influence kids’ academic success and health in school, how to get a garden started at your school, how to get funding for a garden. The Food Shuttle will be at the workshop, too! Come out and learn about the importance of having gardens in local schools!


The workshop is FREE, but attendees need to register by calling 919.350.8366 or by sending an e-mail to laiken@wakemed.org.

When: October 6th from 10:00-11:00am

Where: Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh

View the Brains and Bodies flier  here.

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Help raise 1,000 lbs. of food for the hungry this Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon!


Carrboro Farmers’ Market  is challenging locals to shop for their own groceries on Saturday, but also fill a bag of produce for the hungry.  The Food Shuttle’s refrigerated trucks will be on site to deliver the fresh local produce to hunger relief agencies.

According to Margaret Gifford, Chapel Hill resident and founder of Farmer FoodShare:

“The farmers have donated over 7,500 pounds of marketable food since late May. Now we are challenging shoppers to follow the farmers’ example. Shoppers can buy their groceries at the market and while they are there, donate a bag of food for the hungry.”



More information can be found here:  http://www.carrborofarmersmarket.com/community.shtml

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Come on out for the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle FARM POTLUCK!


We will have our monthly Farm Potluck this Tuesday, September 15th at 6pm.   

The weather should be amazing and there’s an abundance of produce to enjoy in the triangle.  The IFFS monthly Farm Potlucks are a great opportunity to meet other volunteers, check out what’s been going on out at the farm, and enjoy delicious local food!   Our first potluck was a huge success and we’re hoping to get more of you out there every month.  We’d love to see each of you out there, even if you haven’t had a chance to volunteer or visit yet.   Please bring a dish to share and enjoy getting to know other Food Shuttle supporters. 


Planning on coming?  We will certainly embrace all last minute attendees, however, if you do plan to come please let Katherine know (Katherine@foodshuttle.org) so that we have an approximate head count. 


Mark your calendars now for the fall – we will be having Farm Potlucks the 2nd Tuesday of every month.  The next potluck will be on October 13th.  

The farm is located at 2401 Dover Farm Rd, just off Tryon Rd in Raleigh.

click here for a map

We’ll see you all there tomorrow night!

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Raleigh Crop Mob’s 1st Work-Action at IFFS Farm

Sunday September 13: 2:00pm-8:00pm

This is a very special Crew Call in cooperation with the Raleigh Crop Mob’s first Work-Action at IFFS Farm (see map directions below).  Raleigh Crop Mob is building on the Crop Mob model developed by young farmers and Local Ag. Activists in Orange and Chatam Co. to assist local farmers with “spontaneous” volunteer work days.  Raleigh Crop Mob will meet once a month on a different local farm to work. learn and eat together.  An evening meal will be provided by Food Shuttle at 6:30.  Participants are encouraged to bring musical instruments for a jam session after dinner.  Please RSVP to CropMob Coord. Steve Horton so we will know who to expect for dinner! steven.p.horton@gmail.com

Map to of the IFFS Farm on 2401 Dover Farm Road: http://bit.ly/FoodShuttleFarm


Farm Potluck Moved to NEXT WEEK: September 15 at 6:30

We will discuss our plans for ramping up the Farm and Garden program to meet these new challenges at the Farm Potluck next Tuesday, Sept 15th at 6:30.  We would love to have you and anyone else who is interested in IFFS’s farm and garden projects come out and join us for good food and conversation. 

Map of the IFFS Farm on 2401 Dover Farm Road: http://bit.ly/FoodShuttleFarm


Additional Weekly Local Ag Conversations

There is a weekly Student Local Ag. Discussion group mediated by Steve Horton and Sun Butler that plans to meet every Thursday from 4-6 PM at the Farm House Restaurant at 3011 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh at the corner of Friendly Dr.  Outside agitators are welcome.  Contact Steve for details steven.p.horton@gmail.com


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We need your help!

This is a note from our Farm Educator/Manager, Sun Butler. He hurt his knee, and now needs your help to keep things running smoothly at the Farm! Read the note to find out how your talents and time can contribute to the growth of our fall crop.


Dear IFFS Farm and Garden Crew,

I hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately, I spent mine with my leg propped up recovering from knee surgery. I blew my knee out lifting a box of vegetables last week. The Dr. says I have to take it easy on the heavy work for a few months to allow the injury to heal. I’m glad it wasn’t more serious and that I’ll still be involved on a daily basis with the Farm and Community Gardens Project. The rest of this year is going to be tremendous time of growth for our farm and gardens. Here’s what we’re involved with the next few months:

• Getting the Fall garden planted at the Food Shuttle Farm
• Continuing the work we’ve started at the Mayview Community Garden
• We have been given access to 4 more acres of land next door to the Food Shuttle Farm by Caroline McNair. We want to have these acres under cultivation by the end of the year.
• We are starting a new community garden with Neighbor to Neighbor on So. Blount St in Raleigh.

 Farmfarm farm






We are exited about these projects and what they mean to hungry relief and the growth of local foods in the Triangle. But with me being limited in what I can do, we need your help to make these wonderful things happen. If you have extra time to donate to the Farm and Gardens program on the weekends or during the week, please contact me. My email is farm@foodshuttle.org. If you have friends and colleagues who might like to help out, please forward me their contact info.

We will discuss our plans for ramping up the Farm and Garden program to meet these new challenges at the potluck Tuesday at 6:30 at the Farm. I hope to hear from you soon.

Sun Butler

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