Local food and slow money Ag center events in April

Published 5:42 pm Monday, March 31, 2014

On Thursday, April 10 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. the Mill Spring Agricultural Community Center will host “Running On Local” at 156 School Road in Mill Spring.

Authors and locavists from North Carolina, Carol Peppe Hewitt, author of “Financing Our Foodshed: Growing Local Food with Slow Money,” and Lyle Estill, author of “Small Stories – Big Changes, Agents of Change on the Frontlines of Sustainability” and other books on alternative energy and local activism, are bringing their sustainability roadshow called “Running On Local” to Polk County.

“I heard an idea in 2010,” Hewitt explains, “of moving money into the hands of farmers and the local food businesses that support local, sustainable farming – by making small affordable loans to those folks who had a viable need for affordable capital. It was called Slow Money, and I tried it and it worked.

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In the last three and a half years I have helped facilitate nearly 120 direct, peer-to-peer loans in North Carolina from about 80 different lenders to 55 farmers and food entrepreneurs. Many of those loans are already paid off. They total over 1.2 million dollars and they have kept people employed in their own businesses, put more local food in our stores and restaurants, preserved small farms, and strengthened local economies. It’s brilliant and simple. You can do this in Polk County, and we are here to help.”

If that’s not inspiration enough, Hewitt has teamed up with Lyle Estill, who is nationally known in alternative energy circles. “Localizing?” questions Lyle Estill, “We have practical ideas you can use in your community.  “In a world of doom and gloom,” Estill continues, “where financial instruments are too complex to understand, and money moves at the speed of light, where governments are struggling to take action, and individuals are at the mercy of faceless global corporations, there are ways to localize all aspects of your life.”

Together they host a powerful conversation they call “Running On Local” and have taken their message and expertise to Miami, Orlando, Savannah, Beaufort and Charleston, SC, as well as Washington DC, Brooklyn, N.Y., Western Mass. and now to Polk County.

The event is free and open to the public.

The Ag Centers’ fundraising Farm to Fork Supper is April 12.  Starting Saturday morning at 8 a.m. with the first tailgate market of the year in Columbus and then ending in a celebration and kickoff for the upcoming growing season with a hearty meal, good music and a lot of fun. “The Farm to Fork Supper means so much to the Mill Spring Ag Center,” said the Ag Center’s Director Patrick McLendon.

“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year and we depend on it to move forward with the projects and programs that the Ag Center offers.” Aside from restoring the Mill Spring school back into a working building, the Center offers classes and events year round as well as promoting sustainable agriculture through its many demonstrations and exhibition gardens. The Ag Center is near the end of its Farm Class Series, a multi month educational series dedicated to teaching gardening, farming, homesteading and more.

“The Farm Class Series was great and over the course of the program we educated more than a 100 people but we won’t stop there, we are in the process of expanding the gardens at the Ag Center to showcase new growing techniques and as always, will be holding classes throughout the year to help the citizens of Polk,” said McLendon.

All of these activities and programs are made possible by fundraisers such as the Farm to Fork, donations, grants and renting the office space made available by renovating the building. Tickets to the supper are available at the Mill Spring Farm Store and online.

And April 12 is April Minks birthday.  Come and celebrate with us.