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ASAP News and Information

Note From ASAP Executive Director on How We Made the Decision to Cancel the 2015 Farm Tour

I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support and understanding for the very hard decision we had to make to cancel the 2015 Farm Tour. Not only have there been expressions of support, but numerous offers of help. A farmer I talked to at the market on Saturday told me that canceling the tour would hurt their farm business but she understood and agreed with our decision and then asked me “How can we help?” Wow. And she is not the only farmer or community member that has asked how they can help. You are an amazing group of people. Our answer remains – support farmers, shop at markets, go to u-picks and farm stores, continue to buy local eggs and chicken, and reserve your turkey for Thanksgiving.

Coming to the decision to cancel the Farm Tour might best be described as “agonizing” for me and ASAP staff. We wanted to be as thorough as possible without alarming anyone or having rumors spread. The decision may have felt sudden to some of you, but it was a very deliberative process. I wish we could have known earlier so that the time and money spent on preparing for the tour, both for farmers and us, could have been put to other things. We will, though, pull ourselves up and use this unfortunate circumstance as an educational opportunity, both on the challenges of farming and the need to support our farms.


Note From ASAP Executive Director on the Canceling of the 2015 ASAP Farm Tour

After much deliberation with farmers, agencies, other organizations, and the NC State Veterinarian, it is with great regret that that we must cancel the 2015 ASAP Farm Tour due to the threat of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). HPAI is an unusually deadly and contagious poultry disease. It is brought to the region by the migrating birds that pass through the Southeast in the fall. There is a high likelihood that it will impact domesticated birds in North Carolina. Once here, it can easily be carried to chicken and turkey flocks, large or small, housed or free-range, by humans. The mortality rate is nearly 100% for infected birds, and nearly 50 million birds have died in the U.S. as a result of HPAI this year. The ease at which it spreads requires special precautions (called biosecurity), such as limiting visitors on farms that have poultry, cleaning clothes, shoes, and even car tires, and not sharing farm equipment. The state of North Carolina is on High Biosecurity Alert, and the movement and sale of birds is restricted through the first of next year. The risk of inviting thousands of visitors to multiple farms during this time is too much of a threat to ignore. The potential spread of this disease could be devastating for commercial producers and backyard chicken flocks throughout the region.

This current outbreak does not infect people, and meat and eggs continue to be safe for human consumption. The primary concern is with the spread of the disease to birds. This particular strain of influenza is unusually infectious and has the potential to be devastating to North Carolina poultry farming, large and small. NCDA&CS State Veterinarian Dr. Doug Meckes, who we have consulted, has issued the following statement:

“Our state is facing exposure to the worst animal disease event in U.S. history this fall. The response in other states has already cost U.S. taxpayers more than a half-billion dollars. In addition, this disease has led to numerous job losses that hurt farm families and their communities.”

We sincerely regret having to cancel this tour. So much work and investment from ASAP staff, volunteers, and farmers has already gone into planning and preparing for the Farm Tour. Thank you! The Farm Tour is a wonderful opportunity for our community and farms to come together in the places where our food is grown and produced. It is also an important market day for farms. Now, more than ever, we need to support our farms. Please continue to visit farms, orchards, shop at farmers tailgate markets, and seek out restaurants and grocers that purchase from local farms. There are numerous local food and farm activities that we can all do to continue to show our support for local food and farms. Visit our Local Food Guide to find the places you can support farms and enjoy the freshest best tasting food available.

Read the Farm Tour page for more information. We will continue to post more resources about the threat of HPAI.

The 2015 Local Food Guide is Here!

The growing season has arrived in WNC and the Southern Appalachians! Look for signs of spring with seasonal specialties found at tailgate farmers markets, featured at restaurants, and purchased at roadside stands. It is also the time of year to pick up the newest edition of ASAP’s Local Food Guide to help you find the best sources for Appalachian Grown™ food. In the guide, you can find nearly 700 local farms, 100 farmers tailgate markets, hundreds of restaurants, grocers and other outlets for food and farm products with an astounding variety of local products.

This year’s Local Food Guide offers new information, such as which Appalachian Grown tailgate farmers market can accept credit, debit and SNAP/EBT. The guide also includes a look at several multi-generation family farms, celebrating their stories and hearing about why generations continue farming in the Southern Appalachians. Other new features include designated Get Local restaurants committed to going above and beyond when sourcing local food, along with listings of grocers, artisan food producers, B&Bs and farm lodging, wineries, and more.

The latest guide listings can also be found at our online Local Food Guide. Print copies will be distributed to locations throughout the region, or you can stop by the office.

Cost Share & Promotional Support for Farmers

ASAP announces the launch of a farmer cost share program and the renewal of our popular wax produce box initiative, both designed to maximize economic opportunities for local farmers and identify “certified local food” in the marketplace in Western North Carolina. Both programs are part of our Appalachian Grown™ program, which helps farmers enhance the competitiveness of their products in local markets.

Cost share funds are made possible through support from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, and are available for farms in North Carolina to be used for design and production of custom labels, packaging, or promotional materials featuring the Appalachian Grown logo. Click here for more information about the cost share program. 

The Appalachian Grown wax produce box program allows ASAP to use the bulk buying power of over 700 farms to offer packaging materials at an affordable price for growers, helping them meet market requirements and enhance the visibility and marketability of their products. This program is supported by the Golden LEAF Foundation, the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, and The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. A new shipment of boxes will arrive in early April in time for the spring growing season. Click here for more information about wax boxes.

ASAP’s Business of Farming Conference

ASAP’s Business of Farming Conference is a day of learning and networking for farmers and those seriously considering farming as a profession. Each year our conference offers business and marketing themed workshops, networking opportunities, and resources to help farmers grow their businesses. The conference features meetings with wholesale buyers, professional consulting opportunities, business and agricultural exhibits, and locally sourced meals.

Our 2016 Business of Farming Conference dates will be released this summer.  Contact for more information. 

ASAP offers opportunities for learning for farmers throughout the year. Keep an eye on our Workshops and Trainings page for an event near you! 



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