UNION — In addition to providing books, magazines, DVDs, and computer access to online educational resources the Union County Carnegie Library is now serving as a drop-off and pick-up point for fresh produce grown by local farmers.
In a statement released Wednesday, Library Director Rieta Drinkwine announced that the library has partnered with the “Catawba Farm and Food Coalition to help develop local agribusiness and provide residents with access to local, nutritious food.” Drinkwine said that through the partnership the library is now serving “as the pick-up and drop-off location for farmers and customers using the Catawba Fresh Market,” which she said is “an online farmers market for farms and producers located in the Catawba Region of South Carolina.”
The press release states that the Fresh Market came about from the efforts of the “agribusiness development staff at Clemson University and many community volunteers. As the agricultural college for South Carolina, Clemson participates in the national Cooperative Extension Services, providing support for economic development and improving quality of life by delivering research-based information in agriculture, natural resources, food safety, and nutrition through its Clemson University Cooperative Extension offices in all 46 counties.
The announcement further states that “one way that these programs have helped with agribusiness development is by establishing the Catawba Farm and Food Coalition (CFFC) non-profit in 2011. CFFC facilitates and supports the development of secure and sustainable food system in the five counties, including Union County, which make up the Catawba region of South Carolina. The CFFC also believes that a strong local food system contributes to the health of the entire region and works to generate a better understanding of the social, economic, and environmental impacts of our food choices.”
The press release describes Catawba Fresh Market as “a recent initiative of the CFFC (www.catawbafreshmarket.com). Unlike traditional farmers markets, the Catawba Fresh Market allows local, small farmers and producers to sell their products through an online site to customers in all counties in the region and also in Mecklenburg County, NC. In the year since the Fresh Market launched, it has continued to grow in sales and is on track to more than double its sales between its first and second years. Currently, there are 235 customers using the site and 57 local producers selling through the online market. Union County is the most recent addition to the Catawba Fresh Market and has six farmers as active vendors on the site.”
In addition, the press release states that the Fresh Market “is also working to expand into the wholesale market and has established one wholesale test site with a major corporation’s campus in Charlotte. After months of hard work building relationships in Charlotte and coordinating with local farmers, the first wholesale order for Charlotte was placed on Tuesday, Aug. 30, and all of the farmers that sold products were from Union. The collaboration between Union and the CFFC helps build a sustainable, agriculture-based economy in Union by providing local farmers with access to different retail and wholesale markets and providing a support system for farmers to build business skills.”
The press release states that the farmers who sold from Union are the Jackson Farm which sold Japanese Eggplants and Hereford Hills Ranch which sold Yellow Watermelon and Spaghetti Squash.
Drinkwine said that “in order to further support these local agribusiness efforts, the Union Library is facilitating the wholesale orders by acting as a liaison between the farmers and the corporate campus in Charlotte. The library also helps provide local farmers with technology instruction in order for them to participate in the Catawba Fresh Market. The library will be hosting an introductory workshop for the Catawba Fresh Market on Tuesday, Sept. 13 from 3-5 p.m. at the library, and anyone who produces or farms that is interested in learning more is welcome to participate. There is more information about the workshop, including how to reserve a spot, at http://www.catawbafarmandfood.org/workshops.”
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The Union County Carnegie Library has partnered with the Catawba Farm and Food Coalition to help develop local agribusiness and provide residents with access to local, nutrious food. Through the partnership the library will serve as a pick-up and drop-off location for farmers and customers using the Catawba Fresh Market, an online farmers market for farms and producers in the Catawba Region. Pictured are Betty Jean Jackson of Jackson Farm Garden; Elise Ashby, Secretary for the Library Board and Chair of the Union County 2017 Ag & Art Tour; Rozana Farnsworth of Hereford Hills Ranch; Rieta Drinkwine, Director of the Union County Carnegie Library; Gary Farnsworth of Hereford Hills Ranch; Lewis Oliver of Hereford Hills Ranch; and Libby Oliver of Hereford Hills Ranch.
This story courtesy of the Union County Carnegie Library.