Farmer Foodshare receives Grant from Duke University’s Doing Good in the Neighborhood Community Fund

The Duke Office of Durham and Regional Affairs featured us in a blog post highlighting the work we do, our relationship with with Duke employee volunteers, and how this award will help Donation Stations improve and grow 


Story by Alyzia McAllen

Farmer Foodshare and Duke University have an ever-growing relationship. With help from employee donations to Duke’s Community Care Fund, Farmer Foodshare is able to help community members gain access to healthy, nutritious food.

Farmer Foodshare is not your typical nonprofit. It is considered an engine of social innovation, working to remove barriers that prevent people from accessing healthy, fresh produce and the obstacles that prevent farmers from making a living.

Kate Rugani, director of development and communications (left), and Whitney Sewell, community outreach and program manager (right), at the Farmer Foodshare office in Durham, NC.

Kate Rugani, director of development and communications (left), and Whitney Sewell, community outreach and program manager (right), at the Farmer Foodshare office in Durham, NC.

This year, Farmer Foodshare received a  grant from Duke University’s Doing Good in the Neighborhood Community Care Fund to fund volunteer training and create marketing materials to encourage the community’s participation at Donation Stations.

The Donation Station model is unusual in that it benefits both farmers and eaters, supporting a local food system that works for everyone. Funds donated by shoppers are spent with the farmers at market, helping them take home less unsold produce. Those fresh fruits and vegetables are donated that day to local organizations serving the hungry. The impact is significant: Farmer Foodshare operates nearly 40 Donation Stations statewide, serving 50 partner agencies across 16 counties. Volunteers spend more than $53,000 with local farms and amass more than 52,000 pounds of fresh produce annually to feed 20,000 community members in need. Yet there is significant opportunity for the initiative to grow, and plenty of ways to get involved.

Volunteers are critical and essential to everything Farmer Foodshare does. At least two volunteers staff each Donation Station during the farmers market, encouraging shoppers to participate. Duke students, faculty and staff play a major role as volunteers with the program.

Read the full story on the Duke Office of Durham and Regional Affairs Blog

Orange High School Drama Club presents a Donation Station of Another Kind

Let these talented students take you on a journey through another dimension... and support Farmer Foodshare!


by Callie Williamson, Orange High School Drama Club President and Farmer Foodshare Volunteer

Greetings from Orange High School, home of the Mighty Panthers! My name is Callie Williamson. I’m a 16-year-old sophomore at OHS, and I’ve been volunteering with Farmer Foodshare for about seven years. If I’m not helping out at the Donation Station at the Eno River Farmers Market in downtown Hillsborough, you can probably find me at the theater. I’ve always been active in the drama department at school, and this year I’m thrilled to serve as Drama Club President. I wanted to do something major to help out the community this year, and what better way to do it than a charity event supporting Farmer Foodshare?

Over the last few years, it has become a tradition that the Drama Club performs a winter play and donates the proceeds to a different charity. When approached about this year’s recipient, I knew I wanted the money to go to Farmer Foodshare. Why? Farmer Foodshare works hard to give people access to fresh food who otherwise wouldn’t have it. As a student, I know the impact that fresh and healthy food has on my schoolwork and my happiness. Even one fruit or vegetable a day is extremely valuable to growing minds. With the amount of pressure put on students today to focus for seven hours plus homework, fresh food helps provide the right fuel to keep students going.

The Eno River Farmers Market’s Donation Station is partnered with C.W. Stanford Middle School, Orange High’s neighbor. With donations going directly to the school right next door, it’s even more meaningful for Orange High to contribute to this cause.

This year’s production is inspired by the famous TV show The Twilight Zone. We’ll be performing three separate episodes of the show: “Nothing in the Dark,” “The Nick of Time,” and “The Eye of the Beholder.” The play is completely student-run, with two student directors, a student stage manager (that’s me), and an all-student cast and crew. It’s a learning process for all involved, and we want it to be as beneficial to the community as it is to us.

The performances are February 7, 8, and 9 at 7 pm and February 10 at 3 pm. That’s a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so plenty of opportunity to come see the show and support Farmer Foodshare! Tickets are sold at the door for a minimum $2 donation, but we would love for you to donate as much as you can. The performance space is the OHS theatre arts classroom, and seating is limited, so come early for best results!

The author, center, with friends at the Eno River Farmer’s Market Donation Station

The author, center, with friends at the Eno River Farmer’s Market Donation Station

Farmer Foodshare Featured on One Meal a Day Blog

Recently, Whitney Sewell, our community outreach and program manager, sat down with Ashley Schaeffer Yildiz of One Meal a Day for the Planet — a movement to switch a daily meal to one that’s plant-based — to discuss Farmer Foodshare’s work.


by Ashley Schaeffer Yildiz

In many parts of the country, communities in need have a hard time getting access to fresh, nutritious, healthy food. And yet at the same time, not far away, you’ll find local farmers who are struggling to find a market for their produce.

You don’t have to look any further to see evidence of this gap than North Carolina. Even though North Carolina is the 8th largest agricultural producer in the country, it’s the 9th hungriest state — where 1 in 5 children and 1 in 8 adults suffer from food insecurity. That’s one reason OMD has launched a pilot project in North Carolina to get more plant-based foods served in restaurants and K-12 school cafeterias. Another organization that recognizes the need is Durham-based Farmer Foodshare.


“The food system is really not functioning to support either end — the producer, or the people in need,” Community Outreach Manager, Whitney Sewell says.

The 10-year-old organization was founded so that “the farmers and the people who eat their food would be at the same table,” Sewell says. “We’ve designed a new food system.”

Read the full article on the OMD Blog

Speaker Series and Volunteer Training January 23rd

Volunteer Training 1_23_19.jpg

Featuring Keynote Speaker: Kamal Bell of Sankofa Farms
1/23/19 @Farmer Foodshare 902 N Mangum Street, Durham NC

Join us for the first in a series of FREE events featuring speakers from the Triangle Region who live the Farmer Foodshare mission of Food for All.


In this presentation, you'll meet Kamal Bell of Sankofa Farms. Mr. Bell started an Agricultural Academy on Sankofa Farms in order to teach young black men living in low-income neighborhoods of Durham County about the history and vocation of farming. Kamal helps these youth understand the legacy of race and farming for African Americans, and he's empowering these young people to take the knowledge and skills they obtain at Sankofa Farms, LLC back into their communities. He's creating pathways for healthy living as well as careers.

+PLUS+ learn how you can take action in your community through two Farmer Foodshare Programs: Food Ambassadors and Donation Stations. A brief training will get you prepped to lead the way in your neighborhood.

-Intro to Farmer Foodshare
-Kamal Bell from Sankofa Farms: Understanding the Legacy of Race and Farming
-Taking Action in your Community: Food Ambassador and Donation Station Training

The Food Ambassador Chronicles


from the Holt Elementary School Taste Test
Annie Kersting, Americorps Service Member, hosted by Inter-Faith Food Shuttle

I precariously push a cart of carefully arranged paper cups down the narrow aisles of the Holt Elementary School cafeteria.  As soon as I make eye contactwith a familiar face, a whole table of small bodies leap from their seats to a chorus of “Ms. Annie! Ms. Annie!”  I am overwhelmed and warmed by their enthusiasm, and after I remark so to their teacher, she nods knowingly, “first graders will do that.” I have been visiting their classroom for five months now teaching short lessons on food nutrition and growing food in our school garden through Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s  Urban Agriculture Education programs and the FoodCorps, Americorps program.

Our latest lesson was on the “squash family” and learning about pumpkin’s oddly-shaped cousins. We ended the lesson with a school-wide taste test of butternut squash with Farmer Foodshare.

The first graders’ review of the cinnamon and sugar roasted vegetable was resounding approval, their affection for the new food intertwined with their enthusiasm for interacting with an exciting visitor.  The third graders I visit next are not as easily impressed. Many show us thumbs sideways, an indication of “it tasted ok” on our taste rating scale. Braedyn confidently leans into a table and recounts his childhood hatred of coconut, and then his change in preference as he got older and enjoyed it.  

Our message to students: you don’t have to like everything you taste, but don’t be afraid to try it. I work with the hope that students are learning to be open-minded about new foods and aware of how food choices affect their health. I am learning that it is not just multiple exposures to vegetables that fosters this, but the people involved (teachers, cafeteria staff, and exciting visitors like Braedyn and other Farmer Foodshare staff and volunteers, as well as myself) to ignite enthusiasm and tell stories that make the food familiar.


The Food Ambassador Taste Test program has successfully concluded for the semester. You can support next semester's Food Ambassador Taste Test program by making a donation today.

Special thanks to folks like Annie from Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and FoodCorps, Durham Public Schools, each and every Cafeteria staff and manager who are so deeply passionate about serving students, Jim Keaton and Becky Pope of the Durham Public School's nutrition programs, the DINE program, former Farmer Foodshare superstar - Camilla Posthill, parents, community members and other folks who volunteered their time and gifts to ensure that students experienced fresh, healthy and local food at lunchtime every day. Braedyn Mallard, Farmer Foodshare's own Registered Dietitian and Food Ambassador Program Manager deserves a resounding round of applause for his dedication and enthusiasm to living the belief that ALL people deserve fresh, local food. Stay tuned for more opportunities to volunteer in a school cafeteria near you next semester.

Report from the field (well...cafeteria)

14241660_10107628495690349_2704870813832776446_o (2).jpg

My name is Whitney. I joined Farmer Foodshare in September to support Farmer Foodshare’s community outreach efforts, which these days includes recruiting a lot of volunteers to support our cafeteria taste tests. It seemed like a good idea to start by volunteering at one myself.

Today we’re at YE Smith Elementary School. Apron on? Check. Other volunteers in place? Check. Here come the kids, careening down the hallway in their wiggly way.

Braedyn shares about sweet potatoes

Braedyn shares about sweet potatoes

They stop oh-so-briefly to listen to Braedyn, our program manager, who’s explaining everything possible about a sweet potato, today’s NC-grown vegetable. Then they’re off, queuing up to get their lunch. When they emerge from the line, it’s my job to convince them to try a sweet potato.

Most are polite: they say thank you when I give them their cup.  Of course, I don’t know if they’ll actually eat them.

Then comes this one kid.  “Absolutely not.” I plead with him a bit.  “No.”


I pull out the big money: “If you try just one bite, I’ll give you a pencil with fruits and veggies on it.”

That seals the deal. Off he goes, cup of sweet potatoes in hand.

Once all the cups are handed out, I take a walk around the cafeteria to check in with the students and see what they thought. I like to start with the ones who have empty cups – if they’ve tried the veggies without further encouragement, I’m pretty sure they liked them, and I can use them to elicit a bit of positive peer pressure.

I spot the kid who refused. He has 5 empty cups in front of him, leaving me to wonder exactly where he got all those extra sweet potatoes!

I ask him what he thought.

“They were ok. They need a pinch of sugar. Why are they called sweet potatoes if they aren’t really sweet?”

It’s time to vote. The kids return their trays and line up to leave. A fellow volunteer holds up a poster and explains the voting options while another volunteer hands out stickers. Did the kids like the sweet potatoes? Love them? Maybe next time? As they make their way out the door, the kids place their sticker in the appropriate spot on the poster.

The formerly-reluctant-kid-turned-champion-eater puts his sticker in the “liked it” column. After all, they weren’t really all that sweet.

Then he informs me it’s time for his pencil. For that, I direct him back to his classroom, where it lies waiting for him and all the others who were willing to give fresh veggies a go.

Next week, when the students encounter a locally grown sweet potato delivered by Farmer Foodshare, I won’t be there to offer pencils and encouragement. But, I have full confidence that the kids will remember our time together. At the very least, they’ll remember the cool pencil they received, and they’ll eat their veggies.

A Fresh Look for Farmer Foodshare

Notice anything different? Take another look above. You're getting your first peek at Farmer Foodshare's new brand identity!

Yep, we're changing it up a bit to more clearly convey Farmer Foodshare's impact on the local food system.

For nearly a decade (Farmer Foodshare turns 10 next year!) we have partnered with farmers and eaters alike to create new markets for fresh, North Carolina-grown produce. Our new shovel and fork icons represent these important connections.

We believe that everyone should have access to fresh, locally grown food, and our new tagline reflects this vision:

FF Logo (Stacked).jpg

Your input has helped us name these important facets of the Farmer Foodshare brand, and that's fitting, because we are changing the local food system together (check out other stories on our blog to see how!) It's pretty exciting!

Over the coming weeks, you'll start to see the updated brand reflected in more places.

Our special thanks to Lou Killeffer of Five Mile River Marketing for his role in helping Farmer Foodshare name the unique value we bring as an engine for social innovation, and to Scott Ballew for his creative design.

So many people contribute to the strengthening of our local food system. Thanks for all you do to support fresh, local, food for all!

Eating Seasonally and Sustainably

Local Sweet Potatoes are Delicious and Nutritious

Local Sweet Potatoes are Delicious and Nutritious

As Thanksgiving nears, we are approaching a season of enjoying our favorite holiday foods! Farmer Foodshare encourages you celebrate in a healthy and sustainable way by showcasing local foods. Check out the seasonal recipe below and fit your local foods into your Thanksgiving spread with flavor.

This recipe features sweet potatoes, which are currently in season, because not only do you get foods which are rich in vitamins and antioxidants when you eat in season, you also get the opportunity to sustain your local farmer.  And not to mention, the environment more broadly benefits when we eat foods in season: The transportation of foods from where they are grown to nearby grocery stores have severe environmental consequences. From tremendous amounts of fuel and plastic packaging, the process of making foods available year round in areas which they don’t grow naturally has negative consequences for the environment.

This winter, utilize the plentiful variety of produce which North Carolina has to offer, such as potatoes, leafy greens, and artichokes, to reap these powerful physical, economical, and environmental benefits. Below we have included a link to a recipe, available in English and Spanish, to help you eat seasonally and sustainably!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad


Source: NaturallyElla

English, printable version:

Equipment: Baking sheet, Kitchen knife, Measuring cup, Tablespoon, Teaspoon, Mixing bowl


  • 1 lb sweet potatoes

  • 1 small red onion

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Juice and zest from 1 lime

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed if using canned

  • 1/2 cup cilantro

  • 1/4 cup pepitas (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 400˚ F. Peel sweet potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch cubes and place on a sheet tray.

  • Chop onion into 1/4 inch pieces and add to the tray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on top and add 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Toss until sweet potatoes are well coated. Spread into a single layer and roast until sweet potatoes are tender and starting to brown, 35 to 40 minutes.

  • While the sweet potatoes are roasting, combine remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a jar with the lime juice, 1 teaspoon lime zest, minced garlic, and chili powder. Shake well.

  • Once sweet potatoes are done, transfer to a bowl. Add in the black beans, pepitas, and cilantro. Drizzle with the dressing and toss until salad is combined. This is best done with the sweet potatoes are still warm.

La ensalada de frijoles negros y los boniatos asados


By Bonner Intern, Alicia Lee

By Bonner Intern, Alicia Lee

Welcome, Maggie West!

As our fearless leader, Executive Director Gini Bell, prepares for parental leave, Maggie West has joined us as interim Operations Manager to make the transition smooth for all. Here’s a bit more about her, in her own words…

Maggie West.png

I am excited to be joining the Farmer Foodshare team on a temporary basis as the Operations Manager.

I first connected with Farmer Foodshare in 2009 and felt immediately drawn to Farmer Foodshare’s work. The model felt like a key missing piece in our local food system’s puzzle, dually representing new opportunities for small-scale and lower-resource farmers and pathways to food security for low-income families. 

When I was approached about joining the founding Board of Directors for Farmer Foodshare in 2010, I was thrilled by the opportunity. I served on the Board for four years, including two years as Chair, and learned a tremendous amount about nonprofit leadership from the exceptional board and staff.

Over the last 9 years, I also had the great gift of serving as Co-Director of the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF). CEF provides relationship-based support and matched savings accounts to individuals experiencing homelessness or financial insecurity in Orange and Durham Counties.

During my years of experience working one-on-one with Members at CEF, the depth of the need for Farmer Foodshare’s work has shown up again and again. For example, I worked with a woman named Joyce, one of CEF’s members who got a “prescription” from her doctor to treat her diabetes by shopping for a specific list of healthy foods – mostly produce. In good faith, she went to the grocery store and tried to fill her “prescription.”

Joyce came to our next meeting frustrated, having tried to do better for herself and take care of her health, but completely exasperated, saying, “No matter how I tried to put it all together, it just wouldn’t add up! I can’t afford to buy that fancy food, no matter if it could save my life.”

The inequalities and missing links in our food system have meant that women like Joyce cannot afford to choose food that is good for their health – relegating farm-fresh produce to the “too fancy” category for these households.  

I have loved witnessing Farmer Foodshare change this system for farmers and eaters alike, while continually coming up with creative ways to address the urgent need for healthy food for families, students, neighborhoods, and whole communities. I am grateful to have a chance to actively engage in Farmer Foodshare’s work by filling in on a temporary basis. I have so admired Gini and her leadership and am delighted to have this opportunity to support her and this lovely team!

Maggie West

Nuns on the Bus visit Farmer Foodshare


It’s not many days that a tour bus pulls up in front of the Farmer Foodshare office. Especially not one full of nuns.

But that’s exactly what happened this week when Nuns on the Bus, a group of sisters touring the nation in an effort to to hold members of Congress accountable for their votes on the 2017 Tax Bill and their attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, pulled up at the food hub.


Farmer Foodshare was a stop along the sisters’ 27-day road trip from Los Angeles to Mar-a-Lago in Florida. While in Durham, the nuns, led by Sister Simone Campbell, took time to hear from Farmer Foodshare’s executive director, Gini Bell; Camryn Smith, executive director of Communities in Partnership; and community advocate Quisha Mallette of Reinvestment Partners, about our work and the communities we serve.


Following a news conference, attendees had the opportunity to sign the bus, which by then was adorned with thousands of signatures of individuals the nuns had met along the way.

And then, just as quickly as they had come…they were off…to learn from others who are working to create change in our communities!

View more photos. All photos courtesy of Nuns on the Bus.

Egg-cellent Connections

Sam Crisp (left) with leaders of the Piedmont Progressive Farmers Group.

Sam Crisp (left) with leaders of the Piedmont Progressive Farmers Group.

Throughout the communities where Farmer Foodshare operates, there are farmers, volunteers, home cooks, craftsmen, advocates and families finding innovative ways to share tools and knowledge. They're making it possible for all members of their community to eat well and make positive food choices.

Caswell County is a prime example. New in town? Expect to be invited to a gathering of locals, eating food around a common table. On the second Wednesday of each month, the county offers a free Community Building Lunch made with fresh, local produce at the Cooperative Extension Kitchen in Yanceyville.

“There is a huge need here in Caswell,” says Tammy Carter, president of the Caswell County Local Foods Council. “But there is such a strong network and tight community.”

Then there's the annual Farm Day hosted by the Piedmont Progressive Farmers Group (PPFG), a nonprofit cooperative of farmers within a 75-mile radius of Caswell County. The group’s primary focus currently is pastured, cage free brown eggs, which it aggregates from its members after they have been washed, graded and refrigerated on the farms of the individual members. Many of those eggs are then sold to customers throughout the region through Farmer Foodshare’s Wholesale Market.

“They are hands down the best people to work with,” says David Szczepankowski, director of the Wholesale Market. “Our hope is to support them more.”

PPFG promotes sustainable and diverse farming through education, training, technical assistance, and marketing in an effort to enhance the overall operation of disadvantaged farmers in the Piedmont region.

Its Farm Day offers a forum for connecting local people with local resources on land loss prevention, tax information, USDA programs, and even crop specialization.

Sam Crisp, a member of the PPFG board of directors, is crystal clear about what the group aims to achieve. “There is an opportunity to be innovative even on a small piece of land,” says Sam. “We want to help those who own land in the Piedmont area use it productively and creatively,” he says, “not necessarily the way that land was used 50-60 years ago.”

That's exactly the type of work Farmer Foodshare is honored to support.

A Quiet Force

DJ Neblett and Veronica Judd

DJ Neblett and Veronica Judd

DJ may not say much, but the joy he experiences volunteering at the Durham Donation Station is evident.

“From the first time he came to the farmers market, DJ has enjoyed every minute of the Donation Station,” says Veronica Judd. “He knows each vendor by name. He has mastered the smile and the handshake when a market customer makes a donation. He loves it here!”

Veronica is the direct care staff person for DJ Neblett, a young man with autism. Several years ago, she approached Reality Ministries, a community for adults with and without disabilities, to inquire about regular volunteer opportunities that might be available for DJ.

Reality Ministries had long been a recipient of food donations from the Durham Farmers Market Donation Station. It just so happened that the Donation Station needed a volunteer to encourage Wednesday market shoppers to participate.

“It was the perfect opportunity for DJ,” says Veronica. “The socialization, the opportunity to do very simple tasks but on a consistent basis, was so very important. He needs a routine.

Learning the ropes


The Donation Station takes place every week, and DJ has learned his role as a volunteer. He encourages shoppers to make a donation, and he uses that money to buy produce from farmers – food that for years has been donated to Reality Ministries.

Unless there is a sickness or a vacation, he never misses a Wednesday. Of course, there are perks to the job: at 4:00 p.m. each week, DJ loves to visit the cheese vendor, Austin Genke of Boxcarr Handmade Cheese. “It is his favorite thing to do. It is his treat,” says Veronica.

DJ and Veronica have staffed the Durham Farmers Market Donation Station for the past four years. They have been some of Farmer Foodshare’s most faithful volunteers and a joy to the market staff. “DJ and Veronica light up the Wednesday Market!” says Mary Yost, manager of the Downtown Durham Farmers Market.

market veggies.png

“Our customers and vendors look forward to spending time with the dynamic duo every week. DJ knows so many folks by name, and it's always the highlight of our week to chat with him. And Veronica brings so much passion and energy to everything she does. We are so fortunate to work with such a caring and loving team.”

Farmer Foodshare is fortunate as well. It is always a gift to find volunteers who deeply resonate with our mission of supporting local farmers while also making fresh food available to all. For Veronica, the mission of Farmer Foodshare is personal.

“It is so impressive... the opportunity for persons in our community who would otherwise never have access to fresh, local fruits and vegetables, to now have it,” says Veronica. “And the variety is simply awesome! When we encourage customers to give, it brings a smile to my face, and I feel like I am a part of the giving. That is important to me.”

Fostering connection in unexpected ways

By Camilla Posthill


My name is Camilla, and I've been working at Farmer Foodshare for about two years now. BUT, I first got to know Farmer Foodshare by volunteering four years ago. Then and now, I have always been impressed with Farmer Foodshare's ability to make connections and forge partnerships that work for everyone involved. Our hashtag is so perfect for that reason! #EverybodyWins

I think our strength in creating meaningful partnerships is successful because we are community driven - it's one of our organization's stated values. Farmer Foodshare recognizes that in order to close the gap between the world we have and the world we want, we have to listen and learn from those we serve. Farmer Foodshare is proud to support over 600 family farmers across North Carolina through our Donation Station and Wholesale Market programs...but we are always on the lookout for unique opportunities to connect people who grow food with people who need food.

Here's a story that illustrates how Farmer Foodshare connected two like-minded organizations - Leaf & Limb and Sankofa Farms - through a group volunteer project to make sure more fresh, local food gets to people who need it!

Meet Kamal Bell...

Durham middle school teacher. Beginning, small scale, farmer of color. Committed to making fresh food accessible to low-income minority groups in Durham County.


Kamal Bell operates Sankofa Farms, LLC. He also started an Agricultural Academy on Sankofa Farms in order to teach young black men living in low-income neighborhoods of Durham County about the history and vocation of farming. Kamal helps these youth understand the legacy of race and farming for African Americans, and he's empowering these young people to take the knowledge and skills they obtain at Sankofa Farms, LLC back into their communities. He's creating pathways for healthy living as well as careers.

One thirteen year old I met at Sankofa told me he loved taking care of the animals on the farm, and as we were hacking away at weeds, we also talked about his plans to become a veterinarian in the future. Kamal's approach to alleviating food insecurity among minority groups and addressing systemic racial equity issues is aligned with Farmer Foodshare's value to securing food justice for all.

Meet Leaf & Limb...

Local tree care and tree service company. Mission: deliver exceptional services and use their success to create positive impact for their employees, the community, and the planet.


Leaf & Limb's commitment to community outreach is impressive, and their Project Pando is their way of making a meaningful, positive impact in the Triangle area. If you get to meet the owner of Leaf & Limb, Basil Camu, you know you are dealing with an honest, generous person who truly wants to do the best for his employees, clients and the community at large. I cannot say enough good things about the amazing work ethic and positive attitudes that his employees demonstrated during this group volunteer project!

Leaf & Limb's community-driven approach to service and sustainability for healthier people and a healthier world aligns with Farmer Foodshare's vision for a healthy, local sustainable food system.

The Problem

Sankofa Farms is 12 acres, but Kamal has only been able to farm on about half an acre. The rest of the land had not been cleared properly. There were tree stumps, weeds, rocks and trash that needed to be removed in order to get this land farm-ready!

The Solution

21 Leaf & Limb treecologists came out in the pouring rain, got so muddy and donated 4 hours of hard labor to help Sankofa Farms, LLC improve its infrastructure! Sankofa Farms now has close to 2 acres of land that can be farmed!

The treecologists removed tree stumps, dug trenches for fields, removed dangerous dry wood piles, garbage, rock quartz and even made time to build a new home for the guinea fowls that had escaped two weeks earlier.

The Impact

Because of Leaf & Limb’s hard work, Kamal can continue to grow his educational farm and continue his important work teaching young black men living in low-income neighborhoods of Durham County about the history and vocation of farming. The food Kamal produces will be sold and made accessible to low-income residents of Durham County. If you would like more information on Sankofa Farms or want to join their newsletter, please visit the Sankofa Farms website

Farmer Foodshare wants to thank Leaf & Limb for making a difference in the life of this farmer and all the families he works with! We are inspired, energized and incredibly appreciative to Leaf & Limb and Sankofa Farms, LLC. for donating their time and talents to make our community a healthier place to live!

Hurricane Relief for our Local Farmers: DONATE NOW

Penny Severance, owner of Perley Farm in Royalton, VT, overwhelmed by Hurricane Irene's devastation and her community's generosity. (Photo by Cheryl Senter)

Penny Severance, owner of Perley Farm in Royalton, VT, overwhelmed by Hurricane Irene's devastation and her community's generosity. (Photo by Cheryl Senter)

UPDATE: Thanks to donors like you, more than $600 in additional funding will be spent with local farmers at our Donation Stations in the coming weeks. Thank you!

With Hurricane Florence looming just off the coast of North Carolina, the team at Farmer Foodshare is making quick moves to help farmers however we can in their preparations to safeguard the crops they've worked so hard to grow. From relocating produce with our small fleet of trucks to moving forward with local food deliveries as long as possible, we know it's the least we can do for these family farmers that feed our community. Farmers markets for this week have been canceled and, while we're unclear of the future field damage, we do know that we can start now in supporting farmers who will experience field and business losses. Let's help them get through this tough time. 

Farmer Foodshare is dedicated to supporting family farmers, and we are concerned for our farmers, their animals, and crops. Our long experience in working with local farms tells us that there will be a need for long-term care of our farmer partners, who will feel the devastation of a natural disaster long after the flood waters recede.

Texas experienced destruction of agricultural enterprises after Hurricane Harvey. Credit: Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Martinez/U.S. Air National Guard

Texas experienced destruction of agricultural enterprises after Hurricane Harvey. Credit: Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Martinez/U.S. Air National Guard

DONATE TODAY to support Farmer Foodshare's efforts in supporting our local farmers to ensure that the food grown locally makes it to the plate of a hungry person in our community.

What we're doing right now:

  • Buying only from local farmers directly

  • Continuing to deliver fresh local food to community partners like Durham Public Schools, PORCH, and Childcare Services of Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh

  • Accepting donations to purchase more fresh produce from local farmers for food relief organizations like TABLE and Iglesia Emmanuel that depend on food from our Donation Stations

DONATE TODAY to support Farmer Foodshare's efforts in supporting our local farmers to ensure the food grown locally makes it to the plate of a hungry person in our community.

Refugio County, Texas farm destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. Photo: USDA

Refugio County, Texas farm destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. Photo: USDA

Incorporating diverse perspectives

By Tim Schwantes, Vice Chair of the Board

Farmer Foodshare’s values include transparency and inclusion. To that end, we thought we would pull back the curtain and share how our own journey towards continuous learning is helping us become a better organization, uphold our mission, and best serve our partners across the state. 

We can all agree that promoting diversity and practicing inclusion are generally good goals for any nonprofit board of directors. Yet all too often, competing priorities like fundraising, grant writing, leadership development, more fundraising and internal policy-writing seem more urgent and time-sensitive. (Did I mention fundraising?) However, if we don’t make time to intentionally focus on diversity and inclusion, we can find ourselves either a) missing the mark on doing what is best for the priority populations we’re serving, or b) perpetuating the problem by keeping decision making and power among those who have historically always had it. Farmer Foodshare has not been impervious to this situation, and conversations internally and with outside stakeholders have helped us progress in this area.     

We’re constantly listening to you – farmers, local food system leaders, all of you who eat food – in an effort to play our part in creating a more just and equitable food system. Sadly, it’s common knowledge that access to healthy, local food is not available everywhere in North Carolina. We’re not all privy to the same opportunities to eat well, and those working on small- and mid-sized farms are not assured the same job securities as many of the rest of us. This is especially true for communities of color, farmers of color, female farmers and beginning farmers, and many other groups that have been historically marginalized. 

Listening is helpful, but having people with these lived experiences on our board and staff to help guide decisions is even better. In order to do the most good and understand the nuances that face our primary constituents, the Farmer Foodshare board and staff are taking a look at our internal culture, practices and procedures to consider all the ways to be more inclusive, aware of our blind spots, and open to deepening our own learning. 

image via

image via

We have created a Diversity Plan that will guide our efforts to create a more equitable way of working. The plan has two main objectives: 1) recruit and retain a diverse board of directors and 2) create and maintain diversity, a culture of inclusion and a cultural competency on the board. This approach isn’t revolutionary, yet it is imperative that we link arms as an organization and approach issues of race, culture, and diversity intentionally, and that we create a shared language that will help us when we find ourselves talking about the mission on a much deeper and meaningful level.

This Diversity Plan is not likely to create major shifts in how Farmer Foodshare does business. But, like the food system itself, we’re growing, adjusting to changing climates and trends, and always scanning the landscape to consider the possibilities for how to connect more people who grow food with those who eat food. In a system with significant built-in barriers, Farmer Foodshare is creating unique access and opportunity: to markets for vulnerable, local growers and to healthy food for the hungry. Diverse perspectives make it possible.

Measuring Student Choices in School Cafeterias

Food Ambassadors is Making Fresh Food Fun

by J. Hunter Holbrook, Food Ambassadors Intern, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

sweet potatoes.png

“I like these sweet potatoes more than macaroni!”

True statement from a kid at Durham's Lakewood Elementary School this past spring. But it's not exactly something you would expect to hear from the average elementary school student. Seeing as 9 in 10 NC children do not get the recommended amount of vegetables in their diet, such a ringing endorsement seems even more unlikely. However, Farmer Foodshare’s Food Ambassadors (FA) program is opening more kids' eyes to just how amazing fresh, local produce can be. 

As a Master of Public Health student in Health Behavior at UNC-Chapel Hill, my summer practicum requirement led me to a Food Ambassadors internship with Farmer Foodshare. Through this experience, I have worked with Farmer Foodshare staff, Durham Public Schools (DPS), and Durham Innovative Nutrition Education (DINE) to develop procedures for in-school cafeteria taste tests and provide a foundation for tray waste studies.

My work at Farmer Foodshare began by conducting a survey of DPS cafeteria managers, staff, and supervisors. The anonymous survey was intended to gauge opinions of previous in-school cafeteria taste tests, nutrition education curricula, and general opinions of cafeteria staff regarding FA principles. By interpreting these results, I was able to identify some of the barriers and facilitators to increasing the presence of fresh, local food in school cafeterias. Moving forward, I could see how the FA program could be enhanced with these ideas in mind.


I also conducted a background analysis and literature review largely informed by the 2017 Community Health Assessment of Durham County.  From this data, I noted that the threat of food insecurity affects roughly 52,000 Durham County residents, and that rising chronic disease rates are priorities to the community. Building out of this need, I researched factors that lead to these problems, and the extent to which they exist in Durham County. My review led me to examine the ways that cafeteria taste tests and nutrition education programs could tackle these issues, and how tray waste studies could be used to measure the effectiveness of such programs. As a result of this analysis, the FA program now has a standardized, evidence-based platform to continue its growth and implementation in DPS. More kids getting more fresh food from local farmers? Everybody wins!


As I moved from research into planning, I looked at results from Farmer Foodshare’s pilot taste tests. During Spring 2018,  approximately 13,000 students in 19 schools participated, and 79% of students responded to the taste test with an enthusiastic “I loved it,” or at least, “I liked it” when asked about the taste test vegetables. On the other side of the cafeteria serving line, cafeteria managers also responded with positivity when asked about their views of fresh, local food, in-school taste tests, and Farmer Foodshare as an organization.


While I saw that the response from DPS students and staff was overwhelmingly positive, how was I going to know that the FA program was actually leaving a lasting impact on DPS students? Simply having a smiling Farmer Foodshare or DINE face in the cafeteria is enough to brighten anyone’s day, of course, but I want to make sure that the FA program would be going beyond that. The new and exciting resolution to this problem will be including tray waste measurements into the FA program.


Along with the background and precursor analysis, I looked into how current tray waste measurements are currently being conducted around the country. While weighing the trays is the gold standard, this would be a bit impractical to do, given the large number of DPS students. Instead, I suggested a standardized means of collecting tray waste data that relies on a validated and reliable technique known as the Quarter-Waste Method. By using this method, FA staff and volunteers can estimate how much of each food item is wasted, to the nearest 25% interval. Partnered with this technique, I designed a data collection tool that will be used in cafeteria taste tests during the 2018-2019 school year.  


With new data collection strategies and techniques, we can begin to understand how taste-tests and nutrition education affect student choice on the lunch line. Specifically, I am interested in how many students actually select and eat the fresh, local vegetable option. Information on consumption will also help inform purchasing decisions for DPS. From the data Farmer Foodshare will collect, we’ll be able to reliably estimate the total volume and cost of any wasted food.  

thumbs up.png

Over time, these measures will allow Farmer Foodshare to measure the impact of the FA program in two ways: 1) at an individual level, by improving student’s health-related decisions, and 2) at a community level, by connecting North Carolina family farmers to new institutional markets, i.e. school systems.  

For a more in-depth look at Farmer Foodshare’s Food Amabasadors background analysis and tray waste measures, you can check out my assessment.  

That's what happens on a farm!

Fourth-grade students from East Durham visit Wild Scallions Farm

By Allysan Scatterday

“What did you learn about farming today?” I asked one of the fourth graders on our tour of Wild Scallions Farm. “It’s hard work. There’s a lot of walking!” The group of around 25 fourth graders from Maureen Joy Charter School in Durham listened as Farmer Renee talked about the various vegetables, fruits, and flowers that she grows and harvests throughout the year.

For most of the students, this was their first time visiting a farm. They are all participating in the East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI) Youth Leadership Council. This group of elementary school students is receiving training to develop leadership skills and become advocates for healthy living in their community. 


EDCI is a non-profit that works with students living in a 1.2 mile radius in East Durham. They collaborate with a number of community organizations, including Farmer Foodshare, to provide ongoing support for children from birth through high school graduation. Many of the children living in this area face significant challenges. EDCI provides support and opportunities to allow these children to thrive and succeed.

Farmer Foodshare is working with EDCI to increase access to and education about fresh food and to help kids start thinking about the food system – from farm to fork. In addition to the farm tour, we’ll be piloting several programs with students living in the EDCI zone -- a mobile farmers market, a community food share program that will provide regular access to fresh food for children and families in the community, and cafeteria taste tests to get kids excited about eating fresh, local food.

The students on the Youth Leadership Council will be directly involved with all of these activities, promoting mobile markets, managing logistics of food share deliveries, and sharing what they’re learning with others. 

The objective of the farm tour was to give students a first-hand look at how food is grown and what life is like for a local farmer. They pulled potatoes from the ground, sampled native persimmons from the orchard, and asked lots of questions about farm life. Farmer Renee graciously and patiently shared her expertise. We’re so fortunate to work with local farmers like Renee who steward the land, grow a diversity of crops, and understand the importance of educating the next generation about how food is produced in a thoughtful, sustainable way.  

Some other things that the students said they learned: 

  • Crops have to be rotated each year to protect them from disease and promote healthy soil.

  • Some small plants (like strawberries) can make it through the winter and survive underneath the frost while others cannot.

  • In North Carolina, there are different varieties of blueberries that can be harvested all summer long.

  • If you plant one potato (the mother potato) like a seed, you can grow lots more potatoes!

  • Unripe tomatoes are not very delicious.

  • Farmers are always experimenting with new plants – sometimes they’re successful and sometimes not!

Perhaps the most interesting lesson of the day was one that we could not have anticipated. The students screamed and squealed when they noticed that Hansel, the friendly farm goat who accompanied us on the tour, was relieving himself. Farmer Renee quickly responded with an important teaching moment – “That’s what happens on a farm!” she said. The students laughed and quickly realized that they were in for an experience. 

Making fresh food a Reality

By Caroline Owens

This summer, Farmer Foodshare partnered with three community organizations through our Community Food Share (CFS) project. For ten weeks, community members at these organizations received deliveries of local produce shares, giving individuals a steady and affordable means of purchasing nutritious fresh, food. You can learn more about CFS in our previous blog post.

To celebrate the bittersweet end of this year’s program, we want to focus on one of our partner organizations -- Reality Ministries. Farmer Foodshare and Reality Ministries have been working together for several years through our Donation Station program at the Durham Farmers Market. Reality Ministries is a faith-led organization that provides opportunities for teens and adults with and without developmental disabilities.

The CFS program aims to help us build more intimate engagement with our community partners. Through their involvement in the program, we’ve been able to share more about our partner organizations with the wider community. The idea is simple -- to build and celebrate community. By making fresh food accessible and convenient, we are creating pathways between those who can’t typically afford fresh food and the small-scale farmers who are growing it.

Kaitlan helps package corn into the shares.

Kaitlan helps package corn into the shares.

We have the privilege of working with a number of small-scale North Carolina farmers through our Wholesale Market program. The CFS program allows us to further connect these farmers with our community partners, building a local food community. You can read more about the farmers who provided food for the CFS program here

Everyone involved with Reality Ministries understands community. Katy Philips, Farmer Foodshare’s Director of Community Partnerships, praises Reality for their ability to understand what it looks like to extend hospitality, making sure that no one is a stranger. 

From left to right: Decarlos’ favorite fruit is watermelon, and he also loves tomatoes! Katy enjoys brussel sprouts, peaches, and okra, and Kaitlan loves corn on the cob and bananas!

From left to right: Decarlos’ favorite fruit is watermelon, and he also loves tomatoes! Katy enjoys brussel sprouts, peaches, and okra, and Kaitlan loves corn on the cob and bananas!

The warmth and hospitality at Reality Ministries is infectious and felt upon entering the door. Two Reality Ministries participants -- Decarlos and Katilan -- have worked with Farmer Foodshare each week this summer as community liaisons, helping to coordinate the CFS program. Kaitlan has been at Reality for a little over a year now and says, “Reality is like my second family --, a big, tight-knit family.” When I asked Decarlos his favorite thing about Reality, the answer was simple -- “Everything!”

The passion that Kaitlan and Decarlos bring to work everyday is contagious. They both arrive with smiles, ready to get to work, and are always up for a new task. Kaitlan’s enthusiasm for her job comes across in her words. “I love the whole thing. I really enjoy it and don’t want it come to an end.” Kaitlan helps participants check in and keeps all of our finances in order. Working with Farmer Foodshare has also introduced her to some new recipes that she never thought she would like, including our Cucumber, Peach, and Corn Salad!

Kaitlan tries out our Cucumber, Peach, and Corn Salad! Recipe  here.  

Kaitlan tries out our Cucumber, Peach, and Corn Salad! Recipe here. 

Decarlos acts as our community relations expert, always greeting our share participants with a huge smile -- and frequently a hug. Decarlos ensures that participants have been enjoying their produce and encourages them to try out our weekly seasonal recipes. Katilan and Decarlos also play a vital role in sorting all of the produce into twenty-six shares each week.

Decarlos tells Greg about all of the fresh veggies in his share this week.

Decarlos tells Greg about all of the fresh veggies in his share this week.

The participants in the program always provide us with excellent feedback on their shares and love being able to pick up from Reality. Many of these participants have been personally involved with Reality Ministries as volunteers or as parents of a Reality participant. It is truly touching to hear such positive feedback, not only about our CFS program, but about our incredible partners that work to make a difference in people’s lives each day. Our Community Food Share program brings together so many distinct communities, from farmers to organizations to eaters, around a single objective – increasing access to fresh food.

New Donation Station!

Jackson County rolls out the welcome mat

By Katy Phillips

We are excited to share that the Jackson County Farmers Market in Sylva, NC has launched a Donation Station! They’ve chosen The Community Table as the local recipient agency for all of the collected produce.

On a recent visit to the western part of the state, Allysan, our Volunteer and Communications Coordinator, and I had the opportunity to visit Sylva and meet up with Lisa McBride, the new market manager and her daughter (and helpful market assistant), River. Lisa is new to Sylva (she relocated after falling in love with the sweet mountain town) and is eager to help support local farmers and those in the community who have a difficult time accessing nutritious, fresh food.

The Donation Station should fit right in: Jackson County Farmers Market is committed to nourishing its community by providing an abundance of fresh veggies, botanicals, handicrafts, and local pasture raised meats.  They seek to inspire “regional living” by creating a meeting place for local family farms, entrepreneurs, and local residents of all kinds.  Plus, the market is dedicated to educating the community around sustainable farming practices and eating nutritional foods.  Sounds like our kind of place!


From left : River McBride, Lisa McBride (market manager), and Katy in Sylva, NC

From left: River McBride, Lisa McBride (market manager), and Katy in Sylva, NC

If you are ever in the western part of the state on a Saturday, pay a visit to Sylva and stop by the Donation Station. We’re grateful to have the opportunity join with Lisa and everyone at the Jackson County Farmers Market in helping both farmers and eaters throughout Jackson County. 

-- Katy, Director of Community Partnerships

If you go…

  • The market is open year-round on Saturdays, rain or shine.
  • From April to October, the market operates from 9:00am - 12:00pm in the Bridge Park parking lot in downtown Sylva, across the railroad tracks from Mill Street.
  • Starting in November, the market moves indoors and shifts to slightly different hours: 10:00am – 1:00pm at the Community Table on Central Street.

Community Food Share

How our new program is empowering communities and increasing food access this summer

By Caroline Owens

At Farmer Foodshare, we strive to create a community that provides fresh, nutritious food for people in need and supports hardworking farmers so that they can make a healthy living. This  mission directs the programs that we develop as we work to build a more sustainable and equitable local food system.

This summer, we’ve been busy launching a new program. The Community Food Share (CFS) program arose from a need we recognized in the community. Some of the organizations receiving fresh food from our Donation Stations expressed a desire to have more fresh, healthy food than what we were currently donating. At the same time, we heard from many local farmers that they wanted  to access new markets and earn a fair price. This intersection of growth and need enabled an opportunity to build new connections between our farmers and community partners.

The CFS project is a collaboration that uses Farmer Foodshare’s expertise to support innovative efforts that build long-term food security. The program is run by and for community members in the Triangle who have limited access to affordable, fresh food. We aim to bring more of our farmers’ local bounty to neighborhoods and community partners working to alleviate food insecurity throughout the region.

Working in conjunction with our Wholesale Market, we source fresh, local produce from local farmers in order to build a seasonal “share” of produce for participants. The program functions like a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. For ten weeks over the summer, community members receive an affordable share of fresh produce and eggs. Individuals who qualify for federal nutrition assistance programs receive subsidized shares at an additional discount. We also provide educational materials like vegetable fact sheets and recipes based on the week’s produce.

This summer, we are partnering with three local  organizations -- Reality Ministries in Durham, Iglesia Hispana Emanuel in Durham, and Refugee Community Partnership in Chapel Hill. Each of these organizations serves a different population with limited access to fresh food. Each is a recipient of fresh food from one of our local farmers market Donation Stations and has expressed interest in receiving more food than we are currently able to donate. Given this energy, we wanted to continue engaging these communities  by increasing their ability to purchase fresh food from local farmers. Community members at each site are involved in running the program and distributing the food shares. They also have the opportunity to participate in educational workshops to help address the needs of their community.

Our hope is that the CFS program  will help increase access to fresh food for a diverse group of community members and build long-term food security by addressing distributional constraints to accessing fresh, nutritious food from local farms. Our aim is for the program  to be democratically developed, giving a voice to food-insecure community members to have influence in building fresh food access and educational materials that meet their specific and unique needs. Participants have had the opportunity to purchase shares with a variety of local produce including melons, berries, greens, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, eggs and more. We hope to use the voices of our community members in order to improve this program for years to come!

All community members are welcome to purchase weekly shares and pick them up at one of our site locations. You can also donate a share to a family in need. If you’re interested in getting involved, email to find out more.