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Eat healthy, buy locally. Know your local farms

JOHN FORTENBERRY
john@newsatnorman.com
Invest locally, eat healthy and get to know your farms.
That is the message of local food enthusiasts and siblings Christy and Wes Shi, who started the Davidson-based company, “Know Your Farms.”
The Shi’s business adventure began in early 2008 as a way to connect local food to consumers. The Shi’s set themselves up as a connection between area farmers and local food clubs, as a way to share the locally grown food.
“The farmers don’t have time to do sales,” said Wes Shi, who moved from Atlanta to help start the business. “What could we do to help these guys out?” he wondered.
By becoming the middlemen between fresh healthy local-grown food and those who want to eat it, they help sell the food for the farmers, promote the local food economy and healthier eating.
“I like to hear people’s reaction when they try it (fresh local food) for the first time,” said Shi. “It’s an enlightening experience, and for some it takes them back to childhood.”
The Shis set up a number of Community Supported Agriculture “shares” around the Charlotte region and with the help of Mike Walsh are now expanding to Lincoln County.
Community Supported Agriculture is a direct partnership between the consumer and the farmer. CSA members pay in advance for a “share” of the upcoming harvest and are ensured high-quality local produce, and the farmer is ensured a consistent market. Produce is harvested from the farm and delivered to pickup locations each week.
These shares are a way to purchase local food direct from local farms and help build a sustainable local food system in the process. It’s also a way to help the farmers focus on doing what they do best; growing food.
But why should we care about knowing our farms or about our food?
“Because the farms are disappearing fast,” said Shi. “North Carolina is in the top five for farm land lost.”
According to the U.S. Census of agriculture, North Carolina lost more than 604,000 acres of farmland between 2002 and 2007.
Shi says it’s also about food security too, which is threatened by the loss of farmland.
“If we don’t do something, we’ll be in a dicey situation in terms of food security,” remarked Shi.
In Walsh’s mind, owner of “Good Karma Ranch,” an alpaca farm, it’s about being conscious of the environment and investing in the local economy.
“A lot of people are trying to be more conscious of their foot print by eating healthy, and supporting the local economy,” said Walsh.
“Don’t buy an apple across the state when you can buy one from here.”
The movement is also a push for healthier eating, as the negative health effects of fast food are becoming increasingly evident.
“Help the economy and decrease obesity, by increasing fruit and veggie consumption,” said Walsh.
Know Your Farms CSA shares can be delivered to your neighborhood or workplace, if they meet the minimum requirement of 10 shares, and will have a convenient home at Freshly in Denver this spring.

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To learn more and to sign up go online to:
www.KnowYourFarms.com
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Get to know your CSA Farms
in Lincoln County
Gilcrest Natural Farm, Iron Station – Dedicated to producing delicious, high quality foods. The farm specializes in pasture-raised chicken and beef, free-range eggs and some occasional heirloom vegetables. The farm does not use any synthetic pesticides, growth stimulants, hormones or antibiotics on its pasture, gardens or for its livestock. They grow great food in nature’s backyard.
Fortenberry Produce, Pumpkin Center- In its fourth growing season although they’ve been backyard hobby gardeners their entire lives. Jason and Emily work full time as well as on the farm. They make scented and unscented goat milk soap. They also make lye soap (from Grandma’s Recipe), other body products like Bees Wax Lip Balm (the wax from our hives) bar lotions, and hand lotions. They also grow produce and have 25 laying hens of various ages for eggs, and one rooster.
Apple Orchard Farm, Stanley – Has been at its current  location since 1971; the first plantings were apple trees, thus the name. Apple Orchard Farm is considered a model small farm and they are educators and mentors for other individuals who want to farm. Art uses environmentally safe practices and his long-term strategy is to be totally self-sustaining. For example, the water for their cattle is obtained from a solar-powered well, which is one of the first fully functional solar systems in NC. Art plans to install a windmill to drive a pump to water his gardens from a farm pond.
Art plants and raises primarily heirloom garden plants and saves seeds from year to year. One of his green bean varieties has been in the family since 1792. In addition to growing produce, he raises cattle, chicken and pigs.

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