This report presents the findings from an analysis of primary data from the Local Food Guide exploring changes in the growing practices of farmers producing food for local markets in Western North Carolina from 2008 to 2016. Overall, the findings show that every production practice listed in the Guide grew but with notable differences between their growth rates and ratio to farmers. Organic (non-certified) and GMO-free were practiced by the largest numbers of farmers in 2016 and experienced the greatest proportional growth over the eight year period. Animal Welfare Approved and Certified Naturally Grown practices were reported by the fewest number of farms in 2016, but both experienced positive proportional growth. Conventional, biodynamic, and certified organic were the only practices that experienced a proportional decrease between 2008 and 2016.
A secondary analysis examined the growing practices of farms in the Guide that sell exclusively through direct markets (i.e., farmers markets, farm stands, u-pick, community supported agriculture). The results follow a very similar pattern to the primary analysis but with more substantial proportional changes.