Agricultural Incubator to be Located in N. Orange

Big news in today's N&O on a farming incubator being established in Orange County by the county, the state Cooperative Extension, and NCSU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. This is very good news for Orange County as the continued vitality of local farming will be critical to our future sustainability.

Consider the following, according to Michael Pollan:

Food energy in a 1-pound box of prewashed organic lettuce: 80 calories

Fossil-fuel energy spent growing, chilling, washing, packaging, and transporting box of lettuce from California to East Coast: More than 4,600 calories

That's a 57.5 to 1 ratio. And, there is nothing on the horizon to improve upon it. In fact, as gas supplies dwindle while demand rises, it is likely to get much worse. This means that the value of locally grown produce will continue to rise as will the value of farmland (and even garden space).

Barry Jacobs is quoted as saying "We're trying to deal with issues that agriculture has in an urbanizing county, and this is the one we live in." In fact, if some form of sustainably healthy mode of urbanism is to be attained, our thinking about food production and distribution must be radically transformed. There are many in Orange County already thinking along those lines. Let's hope this new incubator is another step forward in that direction.



I think the key to the success of this will be to keep the agribusiness techies out of it and focus on quality "slow food".

Mark M, this farming incubator will certainly function as a laboratory for NCSU agri-business techies. It's their land. They're studying local soil, local crops, and local culture with an eye toward growing better stuff for local consumption.

If the end result is a PhD in Agriculture and Life Sciences, then somebody learned something.

This is a very exciting opportunity. Orange County, with Barry's leadership, is also leading an initiative to explore the feasiblity of a regional value added processing center where local farmers can take their food and flash freeze it, can it, or otherwise process it in an approved facility. That would then open up new local markets for locally produced food--the school systems could purchase it, as could the hospitals.

Anita, I was just going to post kudos to Barry Jacobs for his continuing leadership and vision of the future of agriculture in Orange Co., but you just beat me to it.

We are indeed fortunate to have him heading our County Commission.

It would be helpful to know the ongoing role of Orange County and the extent to which we will be able to keep the local sense of sustainable agriculture at the heart of this project.

I sent a personal note of congratulations and appreciation to Barry Jacobs after reading about this project. Combined with the local processing center, this is very good news for all of us who want to eat locally and healthy.

On a side note: NCSU Ag has been involved with Carolina Farm Stewardship and the organic food industry in the state since before 1989 so I don't think it's a given that this will become a venue for agribusiness.

And it is safe to say that it is not a given that it won't.


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