I am always on the lookout for simple but effective graphics illustrating ideas that we attempt to put into action in our various projects–why reinvent the wheel? By rabbit hole good fortune, after I was referred to the Coastal Conservation League as a regional leader in entrepreneurial conservation for the southeastern USA, one of their programs, as illustrated above and described in words below, came to my attention:
The Conservation League started its Food and Agriculture program in 2007 with the goal of protecting South Carolina’s small, family farms. Between 1992 and 1997, more than 200 acres of rural land were converted every day to urban uses, placing South Carolina in the top ten states in the nation for rural land loss. We quickly realized that small farmers lacked access to the infrastructure available to industrial farms, and were therefore unable to say “no” when a developer offered to buy their land. The League saw a food hub as critical to our work protecting rural landscapes and improving quality of life across the coastal plain.
The objective of GrowFood is to tap into the existing assets of small-scale agriculture to help create a stronger rural economy, spurring job creation, and building capacity in rural communities by connecting farm businesses to the thriving local food movement. The resurgence of small-scale agriculture presents a tremendous opportunity to positively impact the rural economy. Increased agricultural production leads to increased economic activity, and allows farmers to stay on their land for generations to come.
GrowFood officially opened its doors in 2011 at a warehouse in downtown Charleston. Over the past four years, the hub has grown from marketing for 5 producers to more than 75, all in the state of South Carolina. GrowFood provides local farmers the sales, marketing, logistics, warehousing and distribution functions they need and that previously have been available only to large-scale industrial farms. Wholesale customers range from restaurants all over metropolitan Charleston, to Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, Earth Fare, and the College of Charleston. Since its opening, GrowFood has returned over $3 million to farmers.