30 Days: Eastern Carolina Organics

You can trust in a business when they say: “We’re farmer-owned and we act like it.”

That’s the basis for Eastern Carolina Organics (ECO), a North Carolina business that has yielded incomparable results for organic farmers. It markets and distributes wholesale Carolina organic, local farm produce to retailers, restaurants and buying clubs. There are currently at least 40 farmer-owners and 100 retail customers.

Another gem of a statement from the group: “We think (heck, we KNOW) that a sustainable food system is based on providing fresh local fruit, vegetables, and herbs while protecting the environment.”

80% of ECO’s sales go directly back to the growers. They not only provide a wide regional market to farmers, they also take care of logistics to make it work seamlessly. While helping growers make a profit, ECO continues to support and collaborate on efforts to improve production and packing techniques.

And when you check out its website, the very first images you see are the farmers. Among them, John Vollmer, an advisor to our crop insurance work, and Stanley Hughes, a RAFI TCRF grantee. Just walk into a local Whole Foods Market, a grocery cooperative or restaurant and you’ll see those same farmer names and faces right by their fresh product thanks to ECO.

We admire ECO for being a necessary component to making a local food system work, and for further proving it does work. Thank you to everyone at ECO, from the farmers to the drivers to the number-crunchers. You show what all is possible.

And there are countless other models throughout the country doing the same work! If there exists a business in your area that is providing a viable profit model for farmers and local food access in markets, nominate them!

Check out a short video interview with ECO CEO Sandi Kronick, produced by Whole Foods Market.

To nominate your favorite farmer or food hero for RAFI’s 30 Days of Thanks, click here.

Follow along every day at rafiusa.org/30daysofthanks

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