Connecting families and friends to locally farmed food

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Announcements Click here CLFN HIRES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR NEWS Release


Since its beginning in 2008 as part of “Carteret County Crossroads,” the Carteret Local Food Network has been dedicated to connecting families and friends in eastern North Carolina to locally farmed foods.

In 2014, CLFN accepted the Underground Farm under its umbrella and their mission to increase the number of farmers serving the citizens of Carteret County by becoming a Learning Center as well as a producing farm. In 2016, we expanded our farm capacity by renting a new farm at 1586 Highway 101, Beaufort, NC. In 2016, CLFN and the Underground Farm and Learning Center (UFLC) separated from Carteret County Crossroads to become an independent nonprofit.

CLFN and UFLC serve Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscribers, grow for direct sales at the Olde Beaufort Farmers' Market, and sell wholesale to Coastal Community Market in Beaufort the Friendly Market Produce Stand in Morehead City and to several area restaurants

Our Team

Catherine Elkins - Board President
Catherine’s story...
Carteret is my home! Not a local by birth, but I recently heard that growing collards in your garden gets you pretty close.
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I started my interest in agriculture in high school and attended University of Vermont in Plant and Soil Sciences in early 70’s, but left this field to pursue a different path. Now retired from accounting and construction, I’m happily back to growing plants in soil at Underground Farm. Even more exciting is my role as a ‘food activist’. The recent interest in local food in our community, state and nation has reenergized my passion to help my neighbors to locate and appreciate our neighboring farmers. As consumers who wish to buy differently, we can influence the foods our farmers grow and the methods they use to raise their animals or fertilize their crops or protect plants from pests.
I’m so happy to connect with others in my community who wish to improve our food system –farmers who raise, grow and harvest food for us humans, the social networks involved with promoting healthy foods for our children and neighbors, and all other facets of a food system (distribution, waste, policy).  Let’s keep Carteret eating well! and keep all our farmers financially sound!  
Josh Potter - Farm Manager of Underground Farm & Learning Center
Josh’s story...
Farming is very important to me--it’s what I’ve always wanted to do!
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Working at Underground Farm and Learning Center gives me the opportunity to learn and to grow and eventually to benefit what I want to do on my farm. Plus I enjoy teaching others about farming and growing food in this area. I do that when I’m work with students who visit with their classes and with the public--whether they are visitors who stop by for a farm tour or folks who stop at my stand at the Farmers’ Market. I think UFLC is a place for sharing and learning about what works and what doesn’t. As part of the Carteret Local Food Network, it’s a hub where customers learn where to find the food that they want and where farmers learn more about what, when, and how about consumer want their food.

Advisory Council

Penny Hooper
Penny’s story…
I am a founding member of the Carteret Local Food Network.
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 My husband and I reside in Smyrna and have owned Hooper Family Seafood for 43 years. They have been “farming the sea” by growing clams on a lease in front of their house since 1985. Since her retirement from teaching Biology at Carteret Community College in 2010, she has taken a lead in numerous other environmental organizations and considers herself a full time environmental activist. She was given the Carteret County Woman of the Year award for 2016 for her environmental advocacy work.
Susan Schmidt
  Susan’s story...
As master gardener, rower, sailor, and swimmer, I write about water; as naturalist about birds, plants, and fish.
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My lifework is amending soil, especially in raised beds on a relict sand dune in Beaufort—and mulch with compost, aged horse poo, seaweed, peat moss. I support native plants over invasive exotics. I apprenticed at a native-plant nursery in the NC mountains, while teaching literature and environmental decision-making thirty years. Yes, I talk to plants.
As developmental editor, with the same mindfulness as pruning apple trees, I advise authors how to revise book manuscripts for publication (listed among Top Ten editors in New England). My recent books include Salt Runs in My Blood, Song of Moving Water, and Landfall Along the Chesapeake, In the Wake of Captain John Smith. My poems and essays reflect travels to witness natural diversity. As research for my next book, I am walking Celtic coastal paths warmed by the Gulf Stream.
For a decade I worked as government policy scientist, science editor, and sailboat delivery captain. I’ve had a Coast Guard Captain’s license for 34 years. I studied at Oxford in England, have a doctorate in American literature, Masters degrees in Environmental Sciences and British Lit, and did postdoc study in bioethics, conflict resolution, and botany. My homeplace is the Chesapeake Bay; for half my life, Beaufort, NC  is my homeport.
Fran Pigott-Harding
  Fran’s story…
I feel I am one of the lucky ones!  I grew up in Coastal North Carolina.
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Early years were spent in the Down East section of Carteret County. Later my family moved to Beaufort.  “Salt Life” was a reality and while my father worked locally, the family enjoyed the outdoor life, and as a family we fished weekends and oft times during the week.  We also tilled a sizeable garden as my Mother had grown up on a farm in Bettie.  At the time, I wanted more than small town life so began to travel.  After earning a communications degree, my career took me from North Carolina to California with stops in Maryland and Virginia where I focused on building my resume in the insurance/financial services, professional services, nonprofit and entertainment fields.
In 2012, I moved my marketing and public relations firm to North Carolina and began the Salt Life again in Carteret County.  Deciding that life was good eating seafood and fresh veggies, I venture out to farmers markets and farm stands.  Today I am learning more about farms and farming in this area. And I am using my communication skills to also increase awareness of the benefits derived from healthy eating.  
Julie Watters
  Julie's Story
During the last 30 years, my travels have taken me from Florida to Arizona and back east again to Carteret County
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In Tucson, with BS in Business Administration and MS in Management degrees, I spent incredibly long hours first running a veterinary specialty hospital and then heading up a quality and risk management department for a hospital. In 2014 I left that career as well as the hot, dry dessert behind and headed east to a then unknown destination in search of a less hectic, family focused lifestyle. After five weeks on the road exploring the entire Southeast looking for a special place to call home, I stumbled upon Beaufort, and haven’t looked back!   Once here, I was excited to learn about the proximity of local Carteret County farms (there were none where I lived in Tucson). I began to focused on one of my passions -- cooking fresh, whole foods for my family and friends. I appreciate that I can easily get food for my family by visiting a local farm or farm stand. Local organic markets are close by also.
I joined​ Carteret Local Food Network later that year and its mission and vision serves me well. I am truly an advocate of what the nonprofit stands for. I want everyone to understand the benefits of eating fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies. Keeping our farmers in business and thriving is important to me also.
In addition to supporting CLFN initiatives, I own and operate a startup health and wellness business. As an essential oil educator, I focus on helping others learn more about how they can use nature’s ingredients in the healing process.  
With these endeavors, I am grateful for every day that I get to spend with my three beautiful children in Beaufort -- living the salt life! We enjoy the beach, camping, boating, and growing our own herbs and vegetables!  

Underground Farm & Learning Center Staff