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Increasing Healthy Living in North Carolina Communities:
Eat Smart, Move More Community Grants

Yancey County Increases Supply of Locally Grown Produce

Yancey County Health Department received a 2012-2013 Eat Smart, Move More Community Grant to increase the supply of locally grown produce in Yancey County middle schools and after-school programs. This project focused on increasing local food consumption by increasing the availability of local foods, especially to the county schools; improving the partnership between local farmers and buyers; teaching youth how to grow and appreciate fruits and vegetables; and teaching all community members how to prepare local produce.

Partners for this project included:

  • Yancey County Health Department
  • Yancey County Cooperative Extension
  • TRACTOR (Toe River Aggregation Center Training Organization)
  • Yancey County School System
  • Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP)
  • Ingles Super Market
  • MAGIC (Making Academic Gains in Children)

A major barrier to the schools in Yancey County using local produce is the requirement that produce comes only from GAP (Good Agricultural Practices)-certified farms. At the start of this project there were only two farms that were GAP certified, and they could not supply the quantity of produce that was needed. This project facilitated GAP certification of additional local farmers so that they can sell produce to Yancey County schools, which will allow significant changes in the food buying practices of the schools.

At the start of this project, a new produce aggregation center, called TRACTOR (Toe River Aggregation Center Training Organization) was being started. The goal of the TRACTOR program is to increase sales and economic opportunity for farmers in the region through the creation of a food hub that provides an aggregation facility, expanded access to customers and joint marketing. This grant was able to help the start-up of TRACTOR by using grant funds to market the program and spread the word of this new resource.

Through this grant project, students and staff have successfully learned how to garden intensively in raised beds, they have grown vegetables such as kale and spinach, and some have tasted/liked them for the first time. Students have worked cooperatively using gardening tools and utilized decision-making skills in filling and planting the beds. The garden is also being used for academically and behaviorally at-risk students, and it provides extra physical activity during the day and after school. Food from the garden was used in the Student Health Center Teaching Kitchen cooking classes, in MAGIC after-school cooking and tasting experiences, and for the summer Gear Up camp at the middle schools. (Gear Up is a program designed to direct and support more students to continue their post-secondary education.)

Yancey County Health Department in partnership with TRACTOR, Cooperative Extension, ASAP, and the school system will continue to grow healthier farms, a healthier community and a healthier economy.

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