Ariel Fugate graduated in May 2012 with an Interdisciplinary Studies Self-Design BS degree in Sustainable Food Systems. She now works for Lowes Foods, a family-owned grocery chain of just over 100 stores located primarily in North Carolina. Lowes Foods has always sourced local products, but intensified that effort in the past several years to bring produce, meat, dairy and seafood into the mix. As their Locally Grown Accounts Representative, Ariel works to meet new food producers and procure the very best local items. The other half of Ariel’s position is as a liaison to the Center for Environmental Farming System’s NC Growing Together Project, which works to bring North Carolina’s small and mid-sized food producers into mainstream supply chains, focusing on Lowes Foods and Fort Bragg as models for the state and nation.
Modifying a supply chain to incorporate smaller producers, especially those new to retail sales, has challenges Ariel says that must be looked at with an interdisciplinary mindset. Ariel’s degreein Sustainable Food Systems gave her knowledge in the three areas of food: economic, social and agricultural. On any given day, she is pulling from one or all three of those areas. From creating business connections with new food producers, to understanding the constraints of slim food budgets many North Carolina families face, Ariel is equipped with skills and knowledge in each facet of food.