NC State Leadership Visits Union County Cooperative Extension to Learn About Local Food System Initiatives

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NC State Extension’s top leader is learning about innovative solutions in Union County to mutually benefit local farmers and the community. On June 6, 2024, Dr. Rich Bonanno, Director of NC State Extension, visited N.C. Cooperative Extension – Union County as part of the NC State Connecting In North Carolina (CINC) Tour. The CINC Tour “focuses on faculty who are interested in working beyond the walls of campus. The tour educates these faculty on partnerships that already exist, especially Cooperative Extension, provides direction on how they can create new partnerships, and ultimately to positively impact and help the people of North Carolina,” Dr. Rich Bonanno, Director of NC State Extension.

Group of participants in front of Simpson Event Center sign

NC State CINC Tour participants at Simpson Events Center

As one of the stops on the tour of the piedmont of North Carolina, N.C. Cooperative Extension – Union County was honored to demonstrate the ways that the office serves the community through workforce development with UCPS, partnership with Wingate University, and working to support the local food system through Building Agricultural Resources and Nutrition, a project currently being developed known as BARN.

The food provided for the breakfast was catered by East Frank Superette & Kitchen, and the coffee was provided by Alice Jules Coffee House. Almost all of the food used to make this meal for the breakfast was sourced from local farms through the Union County Food Hub. The farms used to source this meal were Little Family Farms, Oak Hill Farm, Alexander Family Farms, Boy and Girl Farm, Dab Har Farm, and Square Roots Farm.

“The food was extremely fresh and gave me a strong sense of how the center values and supports local businesses. Overall, I appreciated how the center works with high school and college students to prepare them for their future roles in the agricultural field,” said CINC Tour participant Dr. Ariel E. Seay-Howard.

The UC Food Hub “connects our local growers to local businesses and restaurants,” as well as working to “support our local economy and create a sustainable food system.” It has been operating for a little over two years now, primarily serving county employees operating each week out of the Union County Agricultural Center, where the food for the orders are dropped off, packaged, and ready to be delivered at one of three of our pick up locations.

The N.C. Cooperative Extension “partners with communities to deliver education and technology that enrich the lives, land, and economy of North Carolina.”

Written By: Ashlin Austin