ASAP Connections

Local Food. Strong Farms. Healthy Communities

ASAP’s Local Food Research Center


Lady Luck Flower Farm

ASAP’s Local Food Research Center (LFRC) examines the social, economic, and environmental impacts of localizing food systems. The center researches and tests our theory of food system change: localizing food systems strengthens local economies, boosts farm profitability, increases sustainable production practices, and improves individual and public health. This theory is grounded in ASAP’s conviction that when the distance between consumer and producer decreases, transparency in the food system increases and drives changes that increase public health, build local economies, and sustain family farms.


The organization’s impact over the last decade has focused on ensuring that farms can continue farming and that everyone has access to local food. We create supportive environments in which farms, businesses, and consumers can innovate and try new things. As a result of our work, Western North Carolina and the Southern Appalachian region lead the country in developing local food systems that build local economies, sustain farms, and ensure that everyone has access to the freshest and healthiest locally grown foods.

ASAP believes that research is the foundation of our work. Through the activities of the LFRC, consumers will learn the value of eating local food for themselves and the economy, farmers will change growing practices to reflect local demand, businesses will change or invest in greater local capacity, new farmers will begin farming and increase production; community organizations and institutions will look to local food as a strategy to address food access, community health, and development issues; and more buyers will have more access to local food.

Initial support for the center is being provided by donors, as well as the USDA Southern SARE program and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

The LFRC conducts research in collaboration with other food systems scholars. Our current affiliated researchers are listed below.

Local Food Research Center Staff:

Charlie Jackson — Executive Director

One of the founding farmers of ASAP, Charlie has extensive experience in developing and implementing local food campaigns and creating local food systems that are socially just, health promoting, sustainable, and that build local economies. He has been responsible for the successful development and implementation of programs in farm to school, regional branding, and farm tourism and he is the founder of numerous farmers markets and farmer associations. He initiated and served on the North Carolina Local Food Policy Council and currently serves on the Buncombe County Public Health Advisory Council and the WNC AgriVentures Innovation Council.

Allison Perrett — Researcher/Administrator

Allison is a researcher and administrator at ASAP. She recently completed her PhD in Applied Anthropology; her dissertation research focused on the Local Food Movement in Western North Carolina. Allison has expertise in qualitative research methods, in design of applied research, and in program evaluation. She is also skilled in project management.

Carlye Gates — Program Coordinator 

Carlye brings deep experience in community engagement, organizational development, and applied social research. As a research assistant at ASAP, she evaluates the impact of ASAP’s programs and conducts research on the social, economic, and environmental impacts of local food. Additionally, Carlye collaborates on multiple consulting projects related to local food systems and food policy council development throughout the state. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs from Western Carolina University.

Affiliated Researchers:

Carlos Carpio, Ph.D.
Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, Clemson University

Tullaya Boonsaeng, Ph.D.
Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, Clemson University

Leah Mathews, Ph.D.
Department of Economics, UNC Asheville

Alice Ammerman, Dr.P.H.
Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, UNC Chapel Hill

Laura Lengnick, Ph.D.
Sustainable Agriculture & Environmental Studies, Warren Wilson College

Carol Kline, Ph.D.
Center for Sustainable Tourism, East Carolina University

Anthony Flaccavento
President of SCALE, Inc. (Sequestering Carbon, Accelerating Local Economies)

Email us for more information about the Local Food Research Center.

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