New Raleigh Convention Center menu highlights diversity in farming

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The Raleigh Convention Center is highlighting the lack of diversity in farming by featuring female and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) farmers in North Carolina.

Not too far from Jones Franklin Road and Interstate 440 in Raleigh is the Sweat Peas Urban Gardens. It is an oasis of freshly grown fruits, veggies, and microgreens.

“I think COVID highlighted the opportunity for us to educate people about where our food comes from,” said farmer Tami Pardue.

Pardue has been farming here since 2014, after pushing to get the permit to turn what was once a farm into a community garden.

“We don’t need to be getting our food from other states. North Carolina can grow food and Raleigh can too,” said Pardue.

All the fruits and vegetables grown at the community garden are distributed to restaurants all across the area and even make it straight to your plate.

Chef Phil Evans is the executive chef at Centerplate. He is responsible for the convention center’s menu. Evans says the lack of diversity in farming pushed him to create more opportunities for female and BIPOC farmers. It’s a group that is underrepresented in the agriculture community.

“We noticed that we needed to do more farm to table but to do it we wanted to bring the smaller people with us, the more artisans the more people that didn’t see the exposure,” said Evans.

Ten female and BIPOC farmers are responsible for the ingredients on the convention center’s current menu.

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