Together with The Conservation Fund and the Conservation Trust for NC, the Initiative has been exploring opportunities to link the common interests of NC’s environmental and community economic development communities and work together more closely to leverage common resources. While this particular group began discussions around collaboration in fall, 2015, contacts and connections among these organizations date back many years. Thanks to critical support from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the collective held three regional meetings and a statewide gathering in 2017 to explore shared resources. We also disseminated small seed grants to three organizations to fund additional collaborative work. We’ll continue this work in 2018.
The statewide work complements our first on-the-ground project, the Good Hope Farm, an historic farmstead in Cary. The 29-acre property, currently owned by the Town of Cary, was surplus property formerly closed to public use. The Initiative, the Conservation Fund, and Conservation Trust for North Carolina have teamed up with Piedmont Conservation Council and the Town of Cary to open the farm to the community, providing land access to local farmers, and educational opportunities for the public to learn about local food production and the agricultural history of their community. This project is especially timely given recent explosive growth in the Research Triangle, which has caused the price of land to skyrocket. Many large farms have been taken out of production to create residential developments, and small farms are not only hard to find, but cost prohibitive for most farmers. Our vision is that Good Hope Farm will address these challenges by licensing plots up to two acres to new and expanding farmers and creating opportunities for farmers to sell their fresh produce right from the farm.