Deacon Dining Supporting the Piedmont Progressive Farmers Cooperative

At Wake Forest, the Deacon Dining takes pride in telling our students that the products we purchase responsibly and locally sourced. But have you ever wondered where exactly your food comes from? The dining team here at Wake Forest decided to take a trip to Caswell County, NC, to explore that very question.

On June 11th, 2024, the team at Deacon Dining set out on the perfect summer day to meet with representatives from 4P Foods, one of our food suppliers, and the Piedmont Progressive Farmers’ Cooperative (PPFC) to tour three local farms and see exactly where their goods were sourced. 4P specializes in connecting companies or universities and smaller farmers and cooperatives. Through them, we were introduced to the hardworking farmers at PPFC. We were met by the Board President of PPFC, Tonya Pennix, who helped start the program and runs it during her free time with her family. During the tour, we visited three different farms in the rural North Carolina Piedmont: Allied Organic Farms, run by Tom and Linda Savage; Jeffers Farm, managed by Ray Jeffers; and Byrd Farm, managed by Ahmad Byrd. Each of these farms is led by African American entrepreneurs.

Jeffers Farm is a fifth-generation family farm managed by Ray Jeffers. Along with farming in the mornings and afternoons, Ray also spends his day training guard dogs and working as a State Advisory Council Member. During our walk through the farm, our team was introduced to growing crops of peppers and squash, a flock of chickens and ducks, and a herd of hogs. The real star of the show was the farm’s 600-pound breeding hog, aptly named ‘Big Willy’. Big Willy spends his day lying in the cool mud with his herd of female pigs and piglets.

Next, we visited Byrd Farm, started by Ahmad Byrd, a young 20-year-old first-generation farmer. Behind Ahmad’s family home sits seven acres of open land speckled with garden beds and a farm building. On the tour through Byrd Farm, the Deacon Dining team saw growing squash, onions, lettuce, marigolds, and more. At the top of the hill behind the home sat a flock of sheep used for wool and a single friendly nanny goat. Our team was then treated to a tasting of Byrd Farm’s original and tasty hot sauce recipe.

As the day began to wind down, our team made their way back to Allied Organic Farms, home to Tom and Linda Savage, to end the tour. As the sun set, our chefs rolled up their sleeves and got to work. Using fresh produce harvested from each of the three farms on the tour, our amazingly talented chefs prepared a banquet for the entire tour group. Using only a handful of tools, some grills, and basic ingredients, our chefs prepared grilled chicken, quinoa vegetable salad, strawberry bruschetta, grilled carrots, herbed tofu steak, and a sweet treat of berries with zabaglione custard. While our chefs wowed us with their skills, the rest of the group enjoyed fishing in the farm’s pond and riding on a Christmas-themed tractor hayride.

During our time enjoying perfect weather, playing with farm animals, and discovering growing crops, our team learned more about the PPFC, how it is run, and how we can continue to build a strong relationship with local farmers that helps feed our students healthy and nutritious meals.

“The Piedmont Progressive Farmers’ Cooperative is an established group of farmers based in Caswell County, NC, originally started to provide information to small, under-resourced farmers so they could maintain, remain, and become sustainable in their farming operations. Caswell County has a deep heritage rooted in farming, and we are proud to have our founding members originate from the county. However, the Cooperative also serves and has members from surrounding counties and the Southern Virginia area.

The Cooperative offers a number of resources and cost-cutting incentives for its members, allowing them to focus on farming and supplying the best products from their farms.

This unique member-owned Cooperative provides the farmers in Caswell County and the surrounding areas an opportunity to maximize their return on investment while preserving the small farmer lifestyle.”

To learn more, visit the Piedmont Progressive Farmers Cooperative (

“Equity is… just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.” – from the Piedmont Triad Regional Council page.