United States

Map-of-Western-North-CarolinaFew places in the United States face greater challenges to human and economic development than Western North Carolina. Food insecurity affects 15.3% of WNC, including over 38,000 children. Only a fraction of the region’s once numerous small farms remain, leading government and local nonprofits to spend millions of dollars on food and nutritional services to help the working poor survive. Unfortunately, the most readily available foods are empty of nutrients and high in calories, leading to expensive chronic diseases. In Polk County, NC, for instance, over 50% of elementary school students do not get enough to eat at home (and receive free or reduced-priced lunch), while nearly a quarter of the county’s population is obese.

Our Partners in the United States

In the United States, Groundswell’s Grow Food Where People Live initiative is empowering vulnerable people to grow their own food, learn valuable skills and organize food-buying clubs to improve their household economies and job prospects, and start market gardens and food-related enterprises to earn more income. We seek to develop a scalable model that will spread beyond Polk County, NC, where we began, into more counties in North Carolina and across the Southeast.

Learn more about Grow Food Where People Live.

Read blog posts and farmer hero stories from Western North Carolina. Watch this video about how we are partnering with socially-minded companies like Buchi Kombucha and Sow True Seed to promote food and seed sovereignty in Western North Carolina. You can find more videos on our YouTube channel.

Country Facts:

  • Population 20,357
  • 1.4% of people making their livelihood through agriculture

OUR LOCAL ALLIES: Polk County Agricultural Economic Development Office, Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry, and Growing Rural Opportunities (GRO)


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