Lowcountry Local First
Lowcountry Local First believes that local, independent businesses are the cornerstone of culture, economy and character. The organization exists to cultivate an economy anchored in local ownership. Over the past decade, this nonprofit has evolved from simply producing public educational Buy Local and Eat Local campaigns to offering new farmer training programs, business summits, an affordable co-working space, a community storefront project and many other business networking and development opportunities throughout the year. The group’s online local business directory and member badges continue to be vital resources in making it easy for the Lowcountry’s citizens, business owners and decision-makers to choose “local.”
Everything the organization does is crosschecked by the questions “Will this help the local business community grow and succeed?” and “Will this encourage a resilient local economy?”
Each April, Lowcountry Local First produces a month-long Eat Local Challenge campaign. The challenge encourages members of the community to shift $10 of their weekly food budget to local sources; the month kicks off with the launch of the Downtown Charleston Farmers’ Market, and connects local farmers and chefs at the annual Chef ’s Potluck. Lowcountry Local First notes that if everyone in the tri-county area made this shift in eating habits, there would be an annual impact of more than $390 million on the local economy.
The organization’s Growing New Farmers program has evolved since its inception in 2010. It now offers a six-month, Sustainable Agriculture certificate program backed by the College of Charleston’s School of Professional Studies. The program provides both introductory-level classroom training and hands-on training in farm production at Middleton Place Organic Farm. It also offers an optional business planning course and apprenticeship placement with one of more than 15 established local farmers and food system leaders to provide extended job-based training. Numerous new small farms, farmers’ markets and jobs have been created as a result of this Low-country Local First program, feeding our community, strengthening the regional food system and contributing to the unique Lowcountry culture that we all know and love.
Lowcountry Local First is looking for its next round of future farmers and food system leaders. Those interested can visit lowcountrylocalfirst.org or call 843-801-3390 to apply to the 2018 Growing New Farmers Program. Scholarships are available.
Story by Jordan Amaker, Director of Marketing for Lowcountry Local First