Empowering Mountain Food Systems

Empowering Mountain Food Systems


Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market in Waynesville is having a great summer despite this unusual time! A great variety of new and long-time vendors are providing the community with fresh produce, meat, eggs, dairy & vegan dairy, honey, baked goods, ferments, medicinals, herbs, body products, and crafts, in a safe environment, every Saturday from 9-12. The Market accepts SNAP/EBT and offers Double Up Food Bucks to help everyone get the freshest, nutritious food for their money!

The Market just wrapped up a 5-week Appalachian Grown Farmers Market month in August with free customer giveaways from @asapconnections and fun/contact-free activities, like Market Bingo and a Shopping Challenge. But we’re most proud of our stepped-up social media engagement, thanks to our EmPOWERing Mountain Food Systems apprentice, Chizoba. She has created awesome content, including videos, news stories, and highlights, recipes, activities. Like us on Instagram, Facebook or visit our website to subscribe to our weekly newsletter, and come on out to see us (with your mask on!) soon! #shopsafeshoplocalnc
Join us at 1:00 pm today to share your questions, concerns and suggestions with Extension and EMFS to help guide our outreach and education efforts. Register here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdSROilxErW0GveOc_on200RcDLi2u1jxasLHCNYnznJV7jzw/viewform

EmPOWERing Mountain Food Systems is a three-year project focused on bringing expanded opportunities & capacity to food and farm businesses across the southwestern NC region.

Apprenticeships, loans, business counseling and more!

Operating as usual

Realty – JAC – Discover Jackson NC | People-First Provisions 04/28/2022

Realty – JAC – Discover Jackson NC | People-First Provisions

Looking to support local while you’re in Jackson County? Pre-buy your produce through Vacationer Supported Agriculture and get to vacation-ing faster.

Vacationer Supported Agriculture provisions are supplied by local farmers in partnership with NC State University and local community organizations.This project supports local small farmers, as well as their families which allows Jackson County visitors to experience fresh local foods.

It’s simple. You order. We prepare. You pickup.

What you get:
10+ pounds of fresh in-season fruits, vegetables, and herbs
Approximately 12 servings of fruit and vegetables
Option to add local hen eggs, pork bundles, farm-fresh flowers
A few days before your vacation, we’ll reach out to share what’s fresh from the farms so you can know what to expect in your produce bag.
[ Pre-order your produce ] → https://www.p1provisions.com/discover-jackson-nc/

Realty – JAC – Discover Jackson NC | People-First Provisions Discover Jackson NC Thank you for visiting us to pre-buy provisions for your upcoming vacation. Vacationer Supported Agriculture provisions are supplied by local farmers in partnership with NC State University and local community organizations. These hyperlocal provisions are being prepared by Lisa....


Who's interested in healthy food access, agriculture and food businesses in Haywood County?? Join us at this facilitated planning meeting!

Haywood County Food Council Planning & Interest Meeting
Monday, May 2nd, 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Mountain Research Station
400 Camp Schuab Road, Waynesville
Coffee and Snacks Provided


If you are a rural small business or farm- this one is for you! Check out the free webinar on energy cost-sharing and renewable energy grants available. Coming up May 10! 🤩


Vacationers visiting Jackson County can now order their produce boxes here!
Among other farms, the lovely JAAR Farms will contribute their goodies to the VSA boxes. Who is JAAR farms? Read on...

Having a farm has always been a dream for Jamie, which he has been slowly growing since 2015. The farm continues to grow under the care of the family, who's its very name embodies Jamie, Alena, Abigail, and Reese. This 1-acre startup farm is located in Balsam, Jackson county and strives to grow a variety of beautiful fresh food for farmer's markets all around Western North Carolina. Greens, root vegetables, tomatoes, strawberries and more seasonal produce- are what you can expect in a product box from the sweet and hard-working family behind JAAR farms! The farm grows year-round to provide produce at the local farmers market and other retail outlets. They believe soil building, farm ecology, and profitably is the key to success for a sustainable farm.

Photos from Empowering Mountain Food Systems's post 04/21/2022

Order your Haywood County VSA produce boxes here https://www.p1provisions.com/visit-nc-smokies/ -and you will get a bounty that includes goodies from Outlaw Acres Farm!

This first-generation farmer family grows produce, raises poultry and Nigerian dwarf goats, and ethically sources and mills lumber from Western North Carolina. They work hard to ensure that chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers stay far away from your food. Farm fresh veggies, eggs, chicken and turkey- not to mention artisan home goods!


Congratulations to our Fantastic Regional Local Foods Agent, Jessica Mrugala. Jessica was awarded the Partnership Award at the Annual Western Carolina University Community Engagement Award Ceremony This week. Jessica is pictured with Dr. Patrick Baron WCU Health Sciences Program Lead. They were both recognized for the Produce Prescription Program, Harvest Health serving 30 families with healthy meals and nutrition education in partnership with Vecinos. Thanks for your great service and dedication Jess and Patrick!


Join us this THURSDAY April 21 for a FREE Virtual Information Session!

WHO: CFSA Market Access Coordinator Geoff Seelen will host USDA Farm Service Agency representatives Sabrenna Bryant (SC State Outreach Coordinator), Thad Williams (Pee Dee Region Loan Officer), and Cristel Youmans (Program Specialist) to discuss the USDA Farm Storage Facility Loan Program, including microloan opportunities for small and mid-sized farms.

WHAT: The Farm Storage Facility Loan Program (FSFL) provides low-interest financing so producers can build or upgrade facilities to store commodities. Eligible commodities include grains, oilseeds, peanuts, pulse crops, hay, honey, renewable biomass commodities, fruits and vegetables, floriculture, hops, maple sap, milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, eggs, meat/poultry (unprocessed), rye, and aquaculture. Eligible facility types include grain bins, hay barns, bulk tanks, facilities for cold storage, and post-harvest handling and storage/handling trucks. Eligible facilities and equipment may be new or used, permanently affixed or portable.

WHERE: Zoom (click here for link)

WHEN: Thursday, April 21, 2022, @ 10:00 am

WHY: Debt financing can be intimidating, so we hope to demystify some of the opportunities small farmers can leverage to help build capacity with limited capital. You will hear from experienced professionals, be given access to informative materials, and be able to participate in a live Q&A.

Please reach out to Geoff Seelen if you have any questions. We hope to see you there!

The meeting will be recorded and made available afterward.

Photos from Empowering Mountain Food Systems's post 04/20/2022

Hey, property rental folks- ready to add a produce box option to your visitor offerings?? Let your guests know that they can order and pickup at any of the following locations!

Premier Vacation Rentals: https://www.p1provisions.com/premier-vacation-rentals/

Magnolia Concierge: https://www.p1provisions.com/magnolia-concierge/

Smoky Mountain Retreat: https://www.p1provisions.com/smoky-mountain-retreat/

Maggie Mountain Vacations: https://www.p1provisions.com/maggie-mountain-vacations/

Photos from Empowering Mountain Food Systems's post 04/19/2022

Mighty Gnome Market Garden is located in Fines Creek in beautiful Haywood County. This couple of young farmers have been gracing local farmers markets with some of the most gorgeous produce around! They believe that a small farm can have a profound impact on our local food economy. They grow fresh, seasonal produce as sustainably as possible, following organic methods and ethical living wage labor practices. Their current CSA boxes and farm stands include squash, potatoes, okra, and all kinds of greenhouse goodies like rainbow chard and delightful kale! We're so excited to have their produce grace our Vacationer Supported Agriculture (VSA) boxes this spring.

This is Mighty Gnome Market Garden's second season providing produce through our Vacationer Supported Agriculture produce boxes... who's eligible to order?

- those with vacation homes here
- those staying in local AirBnbs or other rentals
- anyone visiting the area for any length of time!

Ordering available soon... stay tuned and spread the word!

Wanting to enjoy farm-fresh produce on vacation? Look no further than the NC Smokies - Visit NC Smokies 04/18/2022

Wanting to enjoy farm-fresh produce on vacation? Look no further than the NC Smokies - Visit NC Smokies

You know about CSA (community supported agriculture) produce boxes- but did you know about VSA (vacationer supported agriculture)?! 😋 Here in WNC, the visitors who throng to the mountains can now *support local farmers* by purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, and in some markets, a variety of
meat bundles, shrimp, oysters, and fresh floral bouquets, from farmers operating within a 50 mile radius of the vacation destinations!! 🐓🌾⛰

Your Air BnB guests, your family, or visiting customers to your businesses will be able to enjoy one of the greatest legacies of our area- delicious, locally grown food!

Stay tuned this week as we highlight the awesome family farms contributing to the VSA produce boxes. 👨🏾‍🌾👩‍🌾🧑🏽‍🌾

Wanting to enjoy farm-fresh produce on vacation? Look no further than the NC Smokies - Visit NC Smokies When you’re on vacation, deciding where to eat each meal and when to cook can be tricky, especially if you’re looking for healthy options that still provide some variety. For guests traveling to Haywood County, there’s a new solution — a solution that also works to the benefit of local farme...


You never know what treats you'll find at the delightful spring Farmers Markets near YOU! Go support your local food producers, get delicious foods, say hi to real people... so many benefits to shopping local. 💯

Come and get yer ramps before noon today!!

Photos from Empowering Mountain Food Systems's post 04/15/2022

Food Councils are coming to YOUR county! Who should attend this meeting? Anyone who cares about
healthy food access, agriculture, and food businesses in your county. Find your county meeting below and join us for a facilitated meeting (snacks provided)!

What can a Food Council do?

Get more local food in institutions
Advocate for rule changes for Food Trucks
Increase food access
Promote SNAP / EBT programs
Create or support a Farmer's Market
Advocate for funding to support farmers
Increase agency collaboration
Connect community to food leaders & food businesses
Whatever YOU the community wants!

Implementing Produce Rx Programs in WNC: A Conversation With Jessica Mrugala 04/07/2022

Implementing Produce Rx Programs in WNC: A Conversation With Jessica Mrugala

Spotlight on Jess! Check out what she's doing with CSA boxes of local food...

As a Local Food Systems agent with EmPOWERING Mountain Food System, Jessica Mrugala runs a project called Harvest Health, a Produce Prescription (Rx) Program designed to educate consumers about healthy, seasonal eating and engage regional farmers.


Implementing Produce Rx Programs in WNC: A Conversation With Jessica Mrugala Jessica Mrugala is the Local Food Systems Regional Area Specialized Agent for the EmPOWERing Mountain Food Systems (EMFS) program in southwestern North Carolina. Her service areas include Haywood, Jackson, Swain, Macon, Cherokee, Clay, Graham counties, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians on the...


We are launching our food council listenings sessions in the first week of May. Our program partner is seeking hotel lodging for a week with a kitchenette- please let us know if you can make a recommendation. We have to book a hotel-type lodging! Thanks all and stay tuned for your invitation!


How inspiring, A new chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition is launching in Macon and Jackson counties. These farmers seek to support the regional food system with dynamic collaboration and shared work. Contact Chapter President Katie Doe at [email protected]!

Visit NC Farms 04/05/2022

Visit NC Farms

Bringing visitors to your farm and food business Jackson and Haywood Counties- Free Advertising!

Please reply to Cameron [email protected] if you are interested in listing your farm or food business on the Visit NC Farms App. This is a free offer for you sponsored by Jackson County TDA and the Haywood County Cooperative Extension Office. We want to help make sure regional visitors are aware of your farm or food business as they visit the region!

Check out the Visit NC Farms App to learn more here visitncfarmstoday.com

This program is highly valued throughout the State and managed by the NC Department of Agriculture- so glad it is coming to this part of our region!


Visit NC Farms The Visit NC Farms App connects residents and travelers across North Carolina to local farms, food and fun! The app is available on Apple or Google Play stores and is free to download. Plan your next trip to the country, find local produce and products, and meet local farmers. Download the app and e

Home 04/05/2022


👏 Awesome Job Alert! 🙋🏾‍♀️
Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture seeks a Delivery Coordinator to support operations of the LocalFAM healthy food box program and expansion of the High Country Food Hub’s satellite pickup locations. The High Country Food Hub is an innovative online farmers’ market and storage facility for locally-grown and produced food, operated by Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture.
Purpose of the Delivery Coordinator position: To support the day-to-day operations of the High Country Food Hub, satellite pickup locations and LocalFAM food box program.

The Position:

Drive delivery vehicle to satellite locations and LocalFAM distribution sites around the High Country.
Support the LocalFAM program Team in building and sorting healthy food boxes for the LocalFAM program.
Support BRWIA staff and Satellite Project Team in the implementation of Food Hub’s satellite pick-up program with administration, logistics, and coordination of the program.
Coordinates with the Food Hub team to lead efficient product aggregation and distribution of products.
○ Organize online farmers’ market orders at the Food Hub for pickup day.
○ Interact directly with local food producers/farmers as well as local food consumers.
○ Stay abreast of established food safety practices and Food Hub operating procedures.
○ Maintains sanitary conditions in all areas of the Food Hub
Maintains good rapport with staff, partners and the public
Must be available between 2-5 pm on Tuesdays, 11 am- 6:30 pm on Wednesdays, 12-6:30pm Thursdays, and 8-11 am on Fridays.

Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (BRWIA) is a women-led non-profit organization that strives to build an equitable, sustainable High Country food system. Our mission is to support producers and to cultivate community connections that educate, inspire, and increase the demand for local food. We began as a grassroots project in 2003 by a group of women farmers and gardeners who were looking for supportive, knowledge-sharing networks.

We are based in downtown Boone, NC, and serve the surrounding region.


Home Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture is dedicated to strengthening the High Country Local Food system


Hooray! Join us this Saturday at 9am for our first market of the 2022 season. We're open 9am until noon Saturdays until October. We hope you're gonna make this our best season ever! Remember, we turn 22 this year and we never felt better!

Visit NC Farms app Listing Survey 03/26/2022

Visit NC Farms app Listing Survey

Hey Jackson County Farms and Food Businesses be sure to register for the NC Farms App if you are interested in having visitors to your farm or business. We appreciate the effort of the Jackson Tourism Development Authority's promotion of the Visit NC Farms App and support of our local food economy!

Visit NC Farms app Listing Survey Farms and Agribusinesses in Jackson and Haywood County that are interested in being listed on the Visit NC Farms App.

Supporting Local Food and Farming Businesses in Southwestern NC

EmPOWERing Mountain Food Systems (EMFS) is a three-year project focused on bringing expanded opportunities & capacity to food and farm businesses across the southwestern NC region.

Programs focus on the seven counties of Western North Carolina (Jackson, Macon, Haywood, Swain, Cherokee, Clay, and Graham) and is based at the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Cooperative Extension Office in Cherokee through a partnership between the Center for Environmental Farming Systems and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Cooperative Extension.

The program, funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission, brings together producers, food businesses, schools, and regional partners to increase business opportunities that support the expansion of the food supply chain. Diverse program elements focus on leveraging regional collaboration to enhance the local food economy, including infrastructure development, marketing, business assistance, land matching, training, and other resources to support food & farm entrepreneurs.

Videos (show all)

Making Money on the Farm Conversation with Nicole DelCogliano of Organic Growers School.
Audubon Conservation Biologist Aimee Tomcho discusses the ForestHer NC program and women land stewardship in NC!
What is Energy CAP with Christina Newhouse.
EMFS Blue Ridge Food Ventures
Nancy & Harold Long- How an EmPOWERing Mountain Food Systems Apprentice Helped Our Farm Business!


We offer financial support including grants and loans, business support including funding for professional services and scholarships for continuing education. Call us or email us today for more information!



876 Acquoni Road
Cherokee, NC

Opening Hours

Monday 9am - 5pm
Tuesday 9am - 5pm
Wednesday 9am - 5pm
Thursday 9am - 5pm
Friday 9am - 5pm

Other Business consultants in Cherokee (show all)
Sequoyah Fund Sequoyah Fund
810 Acquoni Road / PO Box 1200
Cherokee, 28719

Lending, training, and promoting entrepreneurship for enrolled members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and business owners in the seven westernmost counties of North Carolina.