S&D Supports the Future of Farming Through Lomax Farm

The average age of the American farmer is 58. To combat the aging of the farming industry, communities need to invest in training new farmers — the ones that will help ensure food is available in the decades to come.

In Cabarrus County, this is where Lomax Farm comes in.

Started by county government and Cooperative Extension as a place to raise a new crop of farmers, the Lomax Farm is now overseen by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA).

Lomax Farm has become integral to the local farm and food movement in the Carolinas. Its areas of impact include:

  • direct opportunities for farmers-in-training (FITs) to learn skills and gain access to scarce land
  • space for Cabarrus County residents to “get their hands dirty” through volunteer days and partnerships with community organizations
  • launching new farm businesses via Lomax FIT graduates
  • a place for children to tour a working farm

Today, Lomax Farm is a regional leader in agricultural sustainability and represents a successful public-private partnership.

S&D’s partnership with Lomax Farm

S&D first became involved with Lomax Farm because of Sr. IT Project Manager Greg Kesterson’s role with Leadership Cabarrus. Greg has served as a member of the program’s steering committee for seven years and in 2010, incorporated a tour of the farm into the Quality of Life class (now known as Sustainable Community Day). Lomax Farm continues to be an important part of the program’s curriculum to this day.

From this initial engagement, S&D began providing coffee grounds for soil enrichment at the farm, and from there, green coffee bags for erosion control studies and mushroom growing/farming studies.

S&D also made a donation to CFSA for an event supporting Lomax Farm and helped fund the farm’s organic certification, but has continued to grow its financial involvement from there.

S&D recently made a $12,000 donation to support the ongoing efforts of Lomax Farm. These funds will support FITs, which require a lot of financial support behind the scenes. CFSA covers the overhead costs of running a farm, allowing the FITs to concentrate on growing their business and farm knowledge.

Examples of what CFSA provides include:

  • ice machine that FITs use to keep their produce chilled after harvest but before it is taken to the market (and repairs to that ice machine)
  • tractors for the FITs to plow their fields (and repairs to those tractors)
  • soil sample tests
  • heat to keep the greenhouse seedlings from freezing on extra-cold nights
  • irrigation supplies to keep the fields watered
  • In addition, labor to keep the farm running is a big part of operations at Lomax and is a big part of how the S&D funds help the FIT Program grow.

S&D’s commitment to the community

S&D is a corporate leader in the Concord area with a strong commitment to and focus on sustainable agriculture practices both abroad and here at home.

“I am very proud how we have and continue to participate in helping the local food movement and sustainability efforts here in Cabarrus County,” said Greg Kesterson. “We have an ongoing responsibility to be the best corporate citizen we can be.”

These efforts are recognized by the CFSA team.

“CFSA is incredibly appreciative of S&D Coffee & Tea who through their contribution demonstrate their support of local and sustainable agriculture,” said Aaron Newton, CFSA’s Lomax Farm coordinator.  “This partnership benefits the farmers-in-training at Lomax Farm who are part of a new generation of farmers who are growing food for our neighbors in our community, and their future would not be possible without the support of S&D.”

Future partnership opportunities

In addition to ongoing financial and corporate support of the Lomax Farm, S&D will look to partner with CFSA on the development of an innovation kitchen at Gibson Mill as part of the food innovation district development.

A food innovation district is a geographic concentration of food-oriented businesses, services and community activities that local governments support through planning and economic development.  Its goal is to promote a positive business environment, spur regional food system development and increase access to local food. In addition to benefitting the community, this kitchen project may give S&D access to much needed cold storage and an innovation space to develop new products and test concepts for mass market consumption.

We’ll be sharing more updates on the CFSA partnership as it continues to grow and evolve, so be sure to subscribe to our blog to make sure you receive the all of latest news and posts from S&D.

To learn more about Lomax Farm and CFSA, visit: https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/lomax-farm/.