Growing Local/Buying Local

2010-2011, Warren County, NC.  Identified opportunities for building a local farming/food economy in a rural county.

The goal of the most recent Community Voice project was to identify opportunities for and barriers to a more robust local/regional food system in the Warren County, NC area.  The project, which began in summer 2010, was sponsored by the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, with support from the SPARC (Sustained Participatory Action Research Collaboration) Program at UNC-Chapel Hill, and Working Landscapes (a new Warren-based non-profit organization).

Growing Local/Buying Local researchers interviewed more than 70 Warren County residents, asking them what they value about Warren County; how agriculture in the county has changed; and the future they envision for farming, food, land use, and the economy.  Using excerpts from these interviews, the project team has produced a 30-minute video, entitled Growing Opportunities in Warren County Soil. Watch the video below:

Growing Opportunities in Warren County Soil from Gabriel Cumming on Vimeo.

The project also analyzed agricultural and economic changes in Warren County over the past century.

The film and quantitative analyses were presented at a series of three facilitated community dialogs, held in August 2011, which attracted 130 participants. In small group discussions, meeting participants came up with ideas for how the county could develop its local agri-food economy.  At a subsequent September meeting, 50 participants selected four of these ideas to pursue.  They formed four action teams, which are currently working to implement the ideas.  Through SPARC, UNC researchers are also participating in the teams.

Led by Carla and Gabriel while they were postdoctoral researchers at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, in Lisa Campbell’s lab, the project also greatly benefited from the work and insights of our key community partners–Judith Alston, Jereann King Johnson, Rev. Bill Kearney, Paul McKenzie, and Reggie Stevenson–as well as graduate students from UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke, including Nicole Carlozo, Ashley Carse, Jessica Daniel, Tara Hopkins, Pavithra Kathanadhi, Sara Safransky, Tim Stallmann, Christine Urbanowicz, and Samathryn Witham.