Editor’s Note: Guest blogger Anna MacDonald Dobbs is the first voice from the Carolinas you can expect to hear over the coming months as we welcome the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA). This first post is a little primer on CFSA, but upcoming entries from both their staff and farmer-members will give us a taste of food systems, policy and daily farm life in their neck of the woods. Enjoy!
By Anna K. MacDonald Dobbs, CFSA Membership Coordinator
Our name is a mouthful. Trust me, I know because I answer the phones. Try saying, “Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, this is Anna. Can I help you?” three times fast or 20 times in the day! All kidding aside, we’re proud of our name because it reflects our history and who we are as an organization. It all boils down to helping people in the Carolinas grow and eat local, organic food.
CFSA is proud to be the oldest sustainable agriculture organization in the Southeast. From Manteo to Murphy, Anderson to Charleston, and everywhere in between, we represent and serve North and South Carolinians. Along the way, we’re glad to have made friends, partnered with individuals and allied groups in our neighboring states.
We are a farmer-driven non-profit. We were founded by a small group of farmers at the initial organizational meeting in the late 1970s. Since that time we’ve taken a region-wide, holistic approach to helping farmers thrive. We provide technical assistance to farmers transitioning to organic practices. We document successful business models and advocate for public policies that support sustainable agriculture and remove barriers for small, diversified farms.
Jim Dykes, a doctor-turned-farmer and CFSA member, says it best: “As farmers, our relationship to the land is vitally important. A good steward manages things in a way that fosters the long-term growth of the good, that improves circumstances rather than exploits them. Good farming is more than our choice of fertilizer. It requires compassion for the land and the creatures on it.” Our farmers grow the way nature intended—without polluting our water and air or over-taxing our soil, and by treating their animals humanely.
We are more than 2,700 members strong. We are farmers and wanna-be farmers. We are city folk who have never planted a thing, but know our farmer by name. We are new parents figuring out how to best feed our kids. We are farmers’ market managers and patrons. We are baby boomers who grew up with kitchen gardens and a family cow out back. We are environmentally conscious business owners. We are ag educators and community garden organizers. We are food producers and food eaters working together to create vibrant and sustainable local food economies in our communities.
As CFSA’s membership coordinator, I have the privilege of working smack dab in the middle of this awesome network of talented, passionate, farm and food-loving Carolinians. Don’t you want to join us? Check out our website and blog. Give me a call – I’ll answer and be glad to chat!
In addition to her work with CFSA, Anna MacDonald Dobbs is a part-time food producer (herbs, container tomatoes and blueberries) and full-time food eater. Anna enjoys living in Hillsborough, NC, with her home-brewing husband Ryan and their two Australian Cattle Dogs, Zep and Stella. She holds a dual Masters of Divinity and Social Work from Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill.
Top photo of Perrywinkle Farm by Debbie Roos, courtesy of CFSA.