North Carolina State University
Professor and Director Center, Environmental Farming Systems
In 2003, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) found itself in the middle of a brewing crisis between conventional agriculture and the state’s environmental and sustainable agriculture groups. Through the leadership of Nancy Creamer, Cooperative Extension and the center (CEFS), a network of collaborative partners was developed. This partnership included other university faculty and staff, county educators, and community business, government, and non-profit partners who crossed sectors of society. They met and addressed positive ways to alleviate the animosity and conflicts. Then they tackled the emerging environmental issues. Together they identified issues, proposed strategies, built trust, and laid the groundwork for future cooperation between the universities and engaged diverse partners. This partnership has grown into a statewide network that models the principles of community engagement scholarship. It has expanded to include hundreds of non-profit organizations, businesses, associations, and state agencies and successfully provides a statewide market and delivery system for local foods. Working together, the partners continue to work collaboratively and are addressing significant issues in the state through local agriculture, including economic development and job creation, childhood obesity, preserving farms and farmland, and enhancing food security.