What is Community-Grown?

Community-grown means raised with the intention of sustaining a community’s health, economy, and resources. Here at TRACTOR Food & Farms, that’s exactly what we source. We’re building a network of farmers, growers and producers who aren’t only skilled craftspeople, but want to feed their communities wholly and responsibly. We then help distribute that food in the same way, by establishing diverse markets designed to reach everyone in the place where that food was grown.

Food insecurity can embody a wide array of circumstances. It could be a retired grandmother who finds herself homebound after a surgery, a toddler out of daycare, a hardworking nurse who has just been laid off, a lawyer who has just incurred some unexpected medical bills, or, strangely enough, a farmer who works long hours in a remote community. Anyone who lacks access to the nutritious, fresh foods grown in their community, for whatever reason, is food insecure. You might not realize it, but you probably know someone who is. And what’s even more likely is that you care for them in some way already.

Anecdotally, an abundance of fresh food is something of the past in Appalachia. It’s a relic of people who were food rich and cash poor, when a family may not have had a bank account but were of critical value to their community as vegetable growers, fruit orchardists, raisers of grain, pork, poultry, and beef. When the value of a craft is extracted, it becomes a novelty. Truly fresh food is now, in a lot of cases, just an inconvenience and a great expense to many Appalachian people scrambling to make ends meet. Other major inconveniences and expenses soon follow, like compounding health issues and the exploitation of rural communities and their resources.

At TRACTOR, we prioritize environmentally, economically and socially non-extractive techniques for growing, procuring and distributing food. Our standard is to serve the same quality product to everyone, whether they are paying customers, a food pantry client, someone experiencing a diet-related illness, and so on. Our standard is to value people, health and happiness, not the dollar. 

You deserve to eat the food that’s grown here. TRACTOR is here to make sure that happens.


Take a look at our 2022 Annual Report


Meet the Team

Becca Smith, Office Administrator

Becca grew up in Weaverville, North Carolina. She has been interested in local foods and agriculture since high school. She attended Appalachian State University where she earned a B.S. in Sustainable Development, focusing in Sustainable Agriculture. Becca loves meeting and working with the farmers at TRACTOR. She believes that they are hard working individuals and wants to help them any way she can. That is what she believes is the most rewarding part of working at TRACTOR.

Dru Zucchino, Executive Director

Hailing from the Old North State, Dru is the Executive Director of TRACTOR Food and Farms. He has over a decade of experience in North Carolina agriculture, ranging from conventional blueberry production in Pender County to biodynamic fruit orchards in Mitchell County. He holds a BA in English Literature and a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. He lives in Mitchell County, where he, his wife, Jessica and two children keep busy managing small fruit plots and orchards.

Michael Graf, Associate Director (he/him)

Michael joined TRACTOR in September of 2017.  What drew Michael to TRACTOR was the work that TRACTOR does to help local farmers connect to markets, and build healthier communities through connections to local food.  His favorite fruits and vegetables are the ones that he either watched grow or knows who grew them.

Sierra Bryant, Operations Manager 

Sierra grew up in Bakersville, North Carolina. Her passion for agriculture began in high school through the FFA and spending her summers working on her uncle’s farm. She continues that passion by assisting on her husband’s 7th generation family farm. Sierra believes in commemorating Appalachian history through agriculture. She looks forward to agricultural growth within our community.

Alyssa Austin, Program Coordinator (she/her)

Originally from Roswell, Georgia Alyssa became interested in agriculture in high school and went on to study biology with a focus on ecology and sustainability studies at the College of Charleston. Living in Charleston for 5 years gave her the opportunity to experience how local food systems impact everyone in their community and deserve to be protected as they are a vital element of culture, wellbeing, and resilience. She spent the last 2+ years in hydroponic farming before locating to NC. She hopes to strengthen community ties in WNC between farmers and families through her work at TRACTOR.

Paul Sherman, Driver (he/him)

Paul was born in Maine, grew up in Idaho, schooled in Tennessee, stationed in Germany before settling on Rock Creek in Yancey. He’s decided, he ain’t movin’ no more. Paul believes in TRACTOR’s Mission and realizes the best way for him to help the farmer is to drive the

Gretchen Ferrell, Farmer Services Coordinator

Gretchen is from northern Florida and has been a market gardener in the South Toe area of Yancey County since 2012. She has a degree in International Business with a focus on Latin American Studies, and was first introduced to agriculture while volunteering in Ecuador. In 2005, Gretchen created and directed a successful non-profit in her hometown, which focused on local food systems, including creating a local farmer’s market, community garden and children’s garden programs. She has been growing for TRACTOR for many years, and is excited to support farmers and our local food system from a new angle.

Thatcher Smith, Program Team

Thatcher has worked summers at TRACTOR since he was 15. He is undeniably the strongest TRACTOR employee. He consumes several thousand calories a day.

Raelin Reynolds, Program Team

Miguel Benites, Program Team

Miguel moved to Spruce Pine six years ago where his first experience with agriculture was volunteering at the Mitchell Giving Gardens. After the summer he will go on to study biology at Western Carolina University.

Callie Moffitt, Program Team

Dan Hopson, Driver

When Dan aint driving schoolbuses full of kids, he’s driving trucks full of food!

Our Board

Sara Runkel, Interim Chair

George Moffitt, Vice Chair

Amanda North, Treasurer

Wendy Boone, Member at Large

Patricia Casey-Mondor, Member at Large

Molly Riddle, Member at Large

David Smiley, Member at Large

Annette Brock, Member at Large

Lauren Wilson, Member at Large

Travis Graff, Member at Large

Amanda North, Member at Large

Adam McCurry, Member at Large

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