Donation Station at Foothills Farmers Market in Shelby, NC wins $1,000 Community Health Grant

Congrats are in order!

Farmer Foodshare’s Foothills Farmers Market Donation Station has been selected as the recipient of one of five $1,000 Community Health “mini-grants” from the Cleveland County Healthcare Foundation!

Big thanks to longtime lead volunteer Julie Weathers, whose dedication to the mission of supporting farmers while providing fresh food for all makes this Donation Station so successful. “I’ve always believed everybody should have access to local food,” she told Joyce Orlando of the Shelby Star.

The funds will be used to augment contributions made by shoppers, enabling volunteers to purchase even more fresh food from local farmers. All of that produce is then donated.

From May to October of last year, the Foothills Market Donation Station provided 4,100 pounds of food to ministries like Shelby Presbyterian and the Cleveland County Rescue Mission (CCRM).

“Farmer Foodshare has been instrumental in CCRM being able to offer fresh produce to the hungry people we feed daily,” Jocelyn Christenbury, CCRM’s director of community development, told the Shelby Star. “A lot of donated food is non-perishable, which makes sense when kind-hearted people want to give to feed the hungry. We prepare meals at CCRM, and just like when you cook for your family, we strive to prepare healthy meals for our family too.”

“Farmer Foodshare is a huge blessing to help our kitchen manager fill the gaps with healthy choices and monetary savings to the bottom line,” Jocelyn said.

Read the whole story at The Shelby Star: Local Program Promotes sharing Farm-Fresh Food


Foothills Donation Station coordinator Julie Weathers (left) and volunteer Margie Byars showcase the day’s haul at their table each week. A bouquet of gorgeous flowers from a local farmer is a must!

Partners in Produce

Dozens of seniors in Pittsboro and Siler City come to the Chatham County Council on Aging each day for lunch and fellowship. It’s an opportunity for them to share a meal and connect with others. Twice a month this past fall and winter, these seniors took home a little something extra – a bag of fresh, North Carolina-grown produce.

Senior Reactions   “I really enjoy the foods I have gotten. I usually don’t buy many vegetables, and I really appreciate the variety.”  “I don’t drive – so it’s good to get fresh fruit and vegetables.”  “I look forward to receiving the food. It is a big asset to me and my family. Please continue to do so. I thank you so much!”

Senior Reactions

“I really enjoy the foods I have gotten. I usually don’t buy many vegetables, and I really appreciate the variety.”

“I don’t drive – so it’s good to get fresh fruit and vegetables.”

“I look forward to receiving the food. It is a big asset to me and my family. Please continue to do so. I thank you so much!”

How did it happen? Community collaboration.

It started when Farmer Foodshare reached out to CORA Food Pantry and the Council on Aging. Funding from Carolina Meadows’ Community Grants Program would cover the cost of purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables from North Carolina farmers through Farmer Foodshare’s Wholesale Market. But we needed a way to reach the seniors.

The Council on Aging offers a daily lunch program that gathers roughly 70 seniors, many of whom depend on such services for proper nutrition and would be thrilled to have a regular source of fresh produce to take home.

CORA provides emergency food support to families in Chatham County. They have expertise in ordering the right quantities of food and a huge cadre of dedicated volunteers prepared to sort, package and deliver individual bags of produce to the Council on Aging’s locations in Siler City and Pittsboro.

The pieces were coming together. Soon, Farmer Foodshare began sourcing a mix of seasonal fruits and vegetables – and the CORA volunteers were ready.

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“I really enjoy putting the food bags together,” said Laurie, a regular CORA volunteer. “I know we are sending something home that would not normally be available. The apples are gorgeous, the lettuce is so fresh, and the butternut squash are unbelievable.”

Splitting up the work in this way allowed each agency to focus on the areas where they could add the most value.

Natalie Stewart, CORA’s Director of Operations, believes this is what they’re meant to do. “We’re grateful to this community who feeds families' hearts, minds, and bodies with nutritious food, helpful information and a connection to critical services to make a significant, positive difference in the lives of so many,” she said.

“We couldn’t believe how generous CORA was to arrange the food ordering and sorting,” said Alan Russo, Eastern Chatham Nutrition Site Manager at the Council on Aging.

“It really took a lot of the pressure off us,” agreed Liz Lahti, Eastern Chatham Senior Center Manager at the Council on Aging. “There wasn’t a focus on ‘our agency’ - it really was about all of us working together to serve our community.”

Why I Volunteer: Tom Melton

Tom Melton has been a Farmer Foodshare Donation Station volunteer off and on since 2012. His day job is Food Resources Coordinator at the Food Bank of Eastern and Central NC, but he shows up at the Southwest Durham Farmers Market Donation Station week after week. Why? Here’s what he had to say:

GOOD GREENS: Sesame Collards

COLLARD GREENS! YUM! A hearty green that grows well through winter and spring + packs a lot of calcium!   Image from https://www.thespruceeats.com/mixed-greens-with-ham-3053954

COLLARD GREENS! YUM! A hearty green that grows well through winter and spring + packs a lot of calcium!
Image from https://www.thespruceeats.com/mixed-greens-with-ham-3053954

Sesame seeds  are an excellent source of copper, a very good source of manganese, and a good source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, molybdenum, Vitamin A, several B vitamins, selenium and dietary fiber.

Sesame seeds are an excellent source of copper, a very good source of manganese, and a good source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, molybdenum, Vitamin A, several B vitamins, selenium and dietary fiber.

Equipment

  • Large pot

  • Kitchen knife

  • Cutting board

  • Measuring cup

  • Tablespoon

  • Teaspoon

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil (or oil of your choice)

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 3 bunches collard greens (1 ¾ pounds)

  • Salt

  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Instructions:

  • In a large pot, heat the oil

  • Add the ginger, garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over high heat, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

  • Add the collard greens in 2 batches, wilting the first before adding more.

  • Season with salt and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the greens are just tender and the liquid is nearly evaporated, about 10 minutes.

  • Add the soy sauce, stir

  • Stir in the sesame seeds, transfer the greens to a bowl and serve.

Adapted from: https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/quick-asian-style-collard-greens by Taylor Jost, Bonner Leader Intern from UNC

Understanding and Addressing a History of Racial Discrimination in Agriculture

Mr. Kamal Bell, teacher and farmer, working with students at Sankofa Farms in Durham, NC. Mr. Bell recently presented at Farmer Foodshare on understanding the legacy of Race in Farming and brought the statistics and sentiments below to our community's attention. "In order to move forward, we must remember our past..."

Mr. Kamal Bell, teacher and farmer, working with students at Sankofa Farms in Durham, NC. Mr. Bell recently presented at Farmer Foodshare on understanding the legacy of Race in Farming and brought the statistics and sentiments below to our community's attention. "In order to move forward, we must remember our past..."

By Alicia Lee, Farmer Foodshare Bonner Leader Intern from UNC

In 1920, African Americans owned 1 out of every 7 farms. By the end of the century, this number had dropped to only 1 out of 100 farms. Here’s another set of shocking stats:  in 2012, 2% of all farmers in this country were African American. In 1924, that number was 14%. Currently, African American farmers represent only 0.4% of overall agricultural sales. What’s going on? Why are African American farmers disappearing?

One reason for the drastic number drop is that African American farmers were systematically denied or delayed getting loans from the United States’ Department of Agriculture (USDA), which would have helped them start, grow, or even just hold on to their farms. In 1997, North Carolina native Tim Pigford and 400 other African American farmers formed a class action lawsuit against the USDA. They won, which resulted in the largest payout in U.S. history, nearly $2.3 billion. This not even close to rectifying the centuries of racial discrimination in agriculture--not only are many participants are still waiting on their payouts,  but so many farms have already been lost permanently.

At Farmer Foodshare’s core is an understanding that our current food system is broken. Several of our programs, such as the Donation Stations and Food Ambassadors, focus on the disconnect between people who grow food and those who need food. But the people who grow food in America are also struggling in general, as large farms continue to grow and force smaller farmers out of the market. This reality of being pushed out was experienced doubly so by African American farmers as they had to contend with competition from mega-farms and racism in the USDA itself as previously discussed.

In honor of Black History Month, Farmer Foodshare wanted to highlight the issue of racism in agriculture, and open the discussion on how to make improvements. We strive to intentionally support farmers of color to help connect them with more buyers, especially through our wholesale market. By broadening farmers’ consumer base, we hope to be able to support African American farmers and keep them in the market.

Want to help? We have a few ways for you to get involved too!

If you would like to read more about this history of racial discrimination in farming, check out these articles on the history of racism in the USDA and what happened to African American farmers. If you believe in fresh food for all and in supporting the local farmers who grow that food, click here to take our online volunteer orientation to learn more and get started volunteering.

Read more:

Local Initiatives:

Orange High Drama Club Raises more than $1450 for Farmer Foodshare

The News of Orange County featured the OHS Drama Club’s wildly successful fundraiser for Farmer Foodshare!

Left to right: Corly Jones (Manager, Eno River Farmers Market), Deb Boxill (Development Associate at Farmer Foodshare), Namir Davis-Ellison (Co-director of "The Twilight Zone"), Oliver Jones (Drama Club member and Farmer Foodshare volunteer), Alyssa Braddy (Co-director of the "The Twilight Zone"), Callie Williamson (Drama Club President and Farmer Foodshare volunteer.

Left to right: Corly Jones (Manager, Eno River Farmers Market), Deb Boxill (Development Associate at Farmer Foodshare), Namir Davis-Ellison (Co-director of "The Twilight Zone"), Oliver Jones (Drama Club member and Farmer Foodshare volunteer), Alyssa Braddy (Co-director of the "The Twilight Zone"), Callie Williamson (Drama Club President and Farmer Foodshare volunteer.

Orange High School Drama Club Raises over $1450 for Charity

By Charlotte Wray, News of Orange News Editor

The Orange High School Drama Club has raised over $1,450 for hungry families in Orange County.

For the past three years, the drama club has presented a winter show that is both a performance and a charity benefit.

This year, the student-run crew presented three episodes from “The Twilight Zone,” raising nearly $1,500 over just four nights of performances to benefit the Farmer Foodshare Donation Station at the Eno River Farmers Market. On Friday, Feb. 15, the drama club presented these funds to a Farmer Foodshare representative.

"$1,451.12 is a lot of money,” said Corly Jones, Manager of Eno River Farmers Market and the Farmer Foodshare Donation Station. “The money these incredible students raised through the production of ‘The Twilight Zone’ will provide six to eight families, approximately 30 people, with fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses and breads for over three months."

The Farmer Foodshare program was selected as this year’s charity because two club members have been volunteers with the organization since they were in elementary school.

Read the full article on the News of Orange County website

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. 

ADDRESSING FOOD INEQUITY AND BUILDING STRONG COMMUNITIES CAN START AT YOUR LOCAL FARMERS’ MARKET

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!

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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.

PARTNER PROFILE: HOW FARMER FOODSHARE IMPROVES ACCESS TO HEALTHY FOOD IN NORTH CAROLINA

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.

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“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

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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.

RSVP: Volunteer@FarmerFoodshare.org

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.

Agenda:
-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

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from the Holt Elementary School Taste Test
by
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)

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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.”

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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:

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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

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Source: NaturallyElla

English, printable version: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MMDIa-TF0BR8sGEERURkQs4RpbOg8N9t7pdwax1CGp4/edit?usp=sharing

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

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Instructions:

  • 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

Spanish: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1H8VdnovWpvDQ5pDiLrB69-73bgQp3o0XEBedNUtjBZU/edit?usp=sharing

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…

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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“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

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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.

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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.

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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