Curtis Consulting
About Curtis Consulting
Vision & Principles
Partnership Development
Project Design & Management
Policy Analysis
Needs Assessment & Evaluation
Grant Writing
News & Updates

"I'm a huge NC Choices fan. It is one of the most effective organizations I have encountered in the sustainable ag world.

Richard Holcomb
Coon Rock Farms and Owner
Zely & Ritz.

Jennifer Curtis has designed and managed two extremely successful multi-stakeholder research and education projects for Gerber Products Company, assisting us with meeting our environmental stewardship goals and contributing well over $2 million toward public-sector efforts to develop reduced-risk pest management strategies. We rely on her leadership skills as well as her knack for working with people from diverse backgrounds and of widely varying skill levels to cooperate toward a common goal. She is well organized, meets deadlines and budgets, communicates project status reliably, and is easy to work with.

Nick Hether
Director, Product Safety & Regulatory Sciences
Gerber Products Company

Jennifer Curtis has demonstrated a broad understanding of issues affecting agriculture at both the local and national level. Her ability to work equally effectively with commodity groups, university research and extension, the food and crop protection industry, and government agencies brings a unique perspective to forming alliances among a diversity of stakeholders. Jennifer’s knowledge along with her excellent organizational and interpersonal skills, were invaluable in helping to establish the Southern Appalachian Apple IPM Program.

Jim Walgenbach
Professor & Extension Entomologist
NC State University

Project Design and Management

Project design involves an initial assessment of opportunities and challenges and requires building agreement among partners about goals and strategies. Proposals are crafted in collaboration with experts and key partners. Ongoing management responsibilities include meeting planning and facilitation, management of staff and/or project consultants, and documentation and evaluation of project outcomes.

NC Choices

In 2006, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) hired Curtis Consulting to manage NC Choices a CEFS' project funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to promote sustainable food systems through the advancement of local, pasture-based animal production, processing and marketing. NC Choices provides information, technical assistance, educational programming and networking opportunities for farmers, extension agents, processors, buyers, distributors and consumers. Since its inception, NC Choices has seen tremendous growth in the number of farmers raising pasture-based animals and selling meat directly to consumers (see "news"). As Project Director, Curtis Consulting manages project staff and consultants, coordinates project committees and partnerships, facilitates research initiatives, develops project funding proposals and deliverables, and assists with project outreach and education efforts. Curtis Consulting spearheaded the development of a pilot project with Weaver Street Market that supports a network of pasture-raised hog and grassfed beef producers and sales of local meat products upwards of $9,000 per week across three stores.

Farmhand Foods, Inc.

As an outgrowth of NC Choices work to develop market and processing opportunities for pasture-based meat producers, Curtis Consulting developed the partnerships and funds necessary to launch Farmhand Foods, Inc., a new branded meat processing business designed to deliver local, high quality beef and pork to retail grocers and fine dining establishments. Farmhand Foods supports a network of small-scale, independent producers who raise their animals on pasture without the use of antibiotics or hormones and are committed to humane practices & environmental stewardship. The Company traces its meats back to the farm of origin, allowing its customers to know precisely where their food comes from and to make choices that support their local community. A soft launch of the business has been made possible through the generous support of the NC Rural Center, the Tobacco Trust Fund and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Promoting Conservation Practices in Outdoor Hog Production

Whey fed pigs on grass

Raising hogs outdoors allows them to engage in innate behaviors and is considered humane but it can also lead to the degradation of pastures and long term farm viability. As an outgrowth of NC Choices work with pasture-based hog producers, Curtis Consulting wrote and secured a 2007 Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) from the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to fund on-farm demonstrations and research at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems. Curtis Consulting continues to help facilitate the project and support research and extension personnel.

Advancing Environmental Stewardship Standards

From 2003-2005, Curtis Consulting worked with Gerber Products Company to develop environmental stewardship standards for several of their crops grown and harvested for baby food. These standards include production and pest management practices and were modeled after those developed by the Wisconsin Eco-Potato Project for certification by the third-party certifier Protected Harvest.

In designing and managing this process, Curtis Consulting is:

  1. developed draft standards for individual crops within different growing regions,
  2. convened and facilitated technical reviews of the crop standards,
  3. worked with experts to develop a method for evaluating potential health and environmental impacts of pesticide use, and
  4. managed peer review and grower pilot-testing procedures.

Promoting Sustainable Pest Management Strategies in NC Apple Production Systems

In 1999, Gerber Products Company hired Curtis Consulting to determine how the Company could work in North Carolina to help develop alternative pest control strategies for its apple growers.

Curtis Consulting conducted a feasibility assessment, developed a four-state partnership between farmers, buyers and research & extension personnel, and facilitated the establishment of a fully-funded project housed at NC State’s Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Education Center to test and validate various strategies to replace pesticides likely to be lost due to implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act. Curtis Consulting also conceived and initiated a successful project with Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) staff to create a cost-share program in Henderson County for growers willing to utilize IPM practices. Now in its third year , the NRCS cost-share program serves as a model for IPM cost-share in other states. See article on the project.