Farm to Fork Picnic tickets now on sale

Date posted: April 9, 2014

chef preparing platesPhoto courtesy Raleigh Telegram

Tickets are now on sale for the annual Farm to Fork Picnic, June 8, 4-7 p.m., at the Breeze Farm in Orange County. The picnic, which pairs some of the area’s best chefs with local farmers, has been called the “the best country’s best all you can eat feast” by Bon Appetit magazine.

The Farm to Fork Picnic is co-hosted by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, Friends of Breeze Farm, Slow Food Triangle and the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation Inc. To purchase tickets, visit the website: http://go.ncsu.edu/2014_farm_to_fork.

The event is a fundraiser to support intern and apprentice training programs at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems and the Breeze Farm. The most recent agriculture census reported that North Carolina was tied for first in the nation in loss of farmland. At the same time, there is growing demand locally and across the United States for new farmer training programs and for locally grown farm products.

Since 1974, North Carolina has lost over 40,000 farms, and almost 3,000 farms have been lost since 2007. It’s an alarming trend, but one that is beginning to turn around with help from farm apprentice and internship programs. Currently, the national average age of farmers is 59 and growing. The need for training and experiential opportunities for interested beginning farmers is critical to ensure local and regional food systems in our future. Proceeds from the Farm to Fork Picnic help provide:

  • stipends for apprentices
  • farmer mentor stipends
  • equipment and supplies
  • training materials.

Last year, the proceeds from the 2013 Farm to Fork picnic expedited the installation of another well and irrigation system at the Breeze Farm that enables new enterprise farmers to move their farm business forward through production on larger acreage that was previously available.

CEFS, a partnership of N.C. State University, N.C. A&T State University and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, helps develop and train new farmers through a variety of programs. Through the farm apprentice program, participants learn to manage a small-scale organic farm at the CEFS Small Farm Unit in Goldsboro.  They also gain experience with a variety of other crop and animal systems at CEFS, including a pasture based beef and dairy operation.

Since 2008, the PLANT (People Learning Agriculture Now for Tomorrow) at Breeze program has provided training to more than 300 new and aspiring farmers. Each winter, an eight-week series of evening workshops covers a range of topics important to the success of new farmers.  Following the workshop and completion of a business plan and crop plan, aspiring farmers can launch their farm enterprise, lease plots of less than a quarter acre and utilize equipment provided by the PLANT @ Breeze Farm Enterprise Incubator.

For the Farm to Fork Picnic, restaurant chefs are paired with local farmers to create special dishes with seasonal, local ingredients. For the list of this year’s pairings, for sponsorship opportunities, and to purchase tickets, visit the website: www.farmtoforknc.com.

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