i-Three Issue Corps 2016 – Brunswick Local Food Project

Mark Blevins

County Director

North Carolina State Extension

morgan mcknight headshot

Morgan McKnight

Family and Consumer Science Educator

North Carolina A&T


What is the change you are designing to achieve?

We should be feeding our own kids, but we’re not! This project will put literally TONS of collards into our school system each week during harvest, strengthen our food system, and improve the health of our children – they’re our future!

How will you measure the change?

We’ll know we’ve been successful when:

*10 farmers are trained in Good Agricultural Practices and grow trial crops of collards
*12 schools have taste tests in their cafeterias
*4 growers are GAP certified
*4 school nutrition directors are happily purchasing local greens
*10,000 pounds of dark green, leafy vegetables are on cafeteria trays and in kids’ bellies each week

What is the innovative component or strategy you will implement as a result of the design-a-thon?

We’re trying something new by blending “Working Out Loud” circles with conversational design. We’ll design a circle for each phase of this project. The phases are GAP training and certification, trial plots, and processing and transportation. These groups will help us figure out strategies and supporters we will need in order to be successful. We will also use concept mapping to help people understand how they fit into the bigger picture.

How did the design-a-thon help you?

The key informant format helped me get different perspectives on different aspects of my project all in the same place. Their input forged my team’s goals and how we’re going to achieve them. We had a solid concept of our project coming into this conference, but it has been reinforced, adjusted and realigned as a result of the design-a-thon.


“Collards in the Cafeteria” is a project that was started in Brunswick County through partnerships within the Brunswick County Local Food Policy Council. A need was recognized within the school system for more local products and interested farmers were there who wanted to make it happen. Our goal is help farmers become GAP certified and grow enough collards to feed all of school kids and then help create an efficient process to deliver them to each school in a value-added form.

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