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AHA improves the health and well-being of Wake County residents by facilitating and supporting community initiatives.

Perspectives (May 2015)

Sara Merz, Director

Sara Merz, Director

Michael Tiemann, a VP at Red Hat who is also on the board of Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), keynoted the City of Raleigh’s Environmental Awards Celebration, where I am proud to say AHA and a number of our partners were recognized.

Michael talked about how our food system is tied to our health. Three years ago he cut out processed cereal from his diet and added local rolled oats, and lost 30 pounds. Then he started to exercise and gained 20 pounds of muscle – and had to buy a whole new wardrobe a second time! But this isn’t just about individual behavior and outcomes – it’s tied to organizational policies and practices.

Michael described CEFS’ 10% Campaign. In North Carolina we spend $35 billion/year on food. If we spent 10% of our food dollar on local food, that would be $3.5 billion staying right here in our economy.

2015 UrbanStewardship_MidAtlantic_AHA

(from left), Michael Tiemann of Red Hat, Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlance, Carol Mitchell, Michele McKinley, Sara Merz, Lisa Humphreys, Darin McClure, Mid-Atlantic Associates

Talk about economic stimulus, not to mention systems change. While many of us make an individual effort to shop local farmers’ markets, we also have the opportunity to develop supply chains and distribution networks that will get more local food into institutional settings. Institutions are huge buyers of produce, and as the food system evolves and it becomes easier for institutions to purchase local, that supports our goal.

Thanks to the City of Raleigh and its wonderful Office of Sustainability staff, and the community members and sponsors who raised funds and spent time to recognize the wonderful things happening in Raleigh. The new Urban Agriculture Awards category gave cash awards to 13 urban ag projects, gardens and child care gardens, including Raleigh City Farm, Endless Sun Produce, Alliance Medical Ministry, and some child care centers who are participating in the Farm to Child Care work we are doing in partnership with Wake County SmartStart and Wake County Cooperative Extension and funded by John Rex Endowment.

AHA's Urban Stewardship Award

AHA’s Urban Stewardship Award

Here’s to the continued growth of urban ag in Raleigh and increased food access through ongoing development of the food system!

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