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.

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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


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

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“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.  

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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.

Produce for Parks

An interview with the middle school student bringing fresh food to her community

By Allysan Scatterday

This summer, Marin Lissy is dreaming big and taking a chance. She's piloting a new program at Cedar Falls Park in Chapel Hill called Produce for Parks (PFP). The goal is to increase the flow of fresh food into the community while supporting local farmers.

"A park is a natural gathering place where people play and enjoy the outdoors," says Lissy. "That means that we have a captive audience at and around the park to provide healthy food. We can also draw in people who live in the area." The park is located in a food desert, meaning that without reliable transportation, people might have difficulty getting to a grocery store to purchase fresh produce.

PFP debuted last weekend with great success. With produce from two local farmers and the Chapel Hill Farmers Market, there were around 300 customers perusing and purchasing local produce. We recently interviewed Marin to find out what inspired her to take on this project and how it will impact her community.


1. How did you become interested in the food system, and what inspired you to start Produce for Parks?  

The Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties (JLDOC) sponsored an essay contest that I won, along with a small monetary prize. In the essay, I was asked to answer the prompt, "How can you increase access to healthy food in your community?," and explain how I would use the money. One of my ideas evolved into Produce for Parks. I came up with the initial idea when I noticed how much use a park in my community was getting. There was a snow cone truck that would come through the park from time to time. I decided why not sell fresh produce, too?


2. How will this project impact your community? Who will benefit from the program?

The project will improve access to farm fresh, organic produce to an audience that might not otherwise have access to it. Also, community members will have a chance to interact with the people who grow their food. Oftentimes, we never have that connection. You don't get to meet the people who feed you. Community members are the people benefiting from the program. Produce for Parks is meant to promote healthy lifestyles (healthy food, fitness, and recreation) and support local farms.


3. What can people expect on a typical day at the PFP farmers market?

On a typical day, we will have produce from three vendors: Minka Farm, Jimmy Acres Farm, and Chapel Hill Farmers Market's vendors' collected produce. Produce availability is difficult to predict, but we can probably count on pawpaws, apples, and assorted summertime vegetables such as tomatoes, corn, squash, etc. We will post produce availability on our website before the PFP market.



4. Have you had any challenges getting this project started? How did you overcome these, and what kept you pushing forward?

Yes, I have had many challenges! One of the main challenges I face is the fact that I'm not an adult. That means that people don't necessarily take me seriously right away. I have to constantly prove myself. Another challenge was finding farmers. The winners of the Junior League essay contest were announced in May of last year. By the time I had gathered all the materials to start my mobile farm stand (June-July of last year), it was much too late. Farmers are working, not checking their emails! This year, I got an "early start" reaching out to farms, and I found three!


5. How will you determine whether the project is successful?

Produce for Parks is a trial effort. We don't know if we will be successful but certainly hope so! My "success spectrum" would mean: 1) How many customers show up and purchase produce; 2) How much positive feedback we get; and 3) If farmers are excited by the market and are willing to participate. I still consider it a success that I even managed to organize a market!


6. How can people learn more about Produce for Parks?

Produce for Parks has a website,, and our email is produceforparks (at) We also encourage people to stop by our market as well (Sundays between July 16-August 13 from 4-6pm at Cedar Falls Park)!



Marin Lissy is a middle school student in Chapel Hill. She is the organizer of Produce for Parks, and enjoys volunteering in support of the community. In her free time she enjoys playing guitar, reading, and spending with family and friends.


Gardening Boom: 1 in 3 American Households Grow Food

By Marin Lissy

If it seems like more people are talking about their homegrown tomatoes and greens lately, you’re onto something.


According to the National Gardening Association (NGA), 35 percent of households in the US grow food either at home or in a community garden. This means that two million more families are involved in gardening, up 200 percent since 2008. All of these statistics were calculated by a special five-year report by the NGA, Garden to Table: A 5-Year Look at Food Gardening in America. The study tells us that many things have changed over the past five years -- which age groups are most likely to garden, the types of food that people are most popular to grow, why people garden, and garden location and size.

″This report clearly shows that there truly is a food revolution taking place in America,″ said Mike Metallo, President and CEO of the NGA. ″We are seeing more people, particularly young people, actively engaged in growing their own food. The growth in just five years is pretty spectacular.″ While Metallo is right, he also highlights the fact that not everyone has access to food.

“Right now, there are 16 million children in America struggling with hunger. Food deserts are still commonplace and obesity coupled with poor nutrition remains at epidemic proportions.”

Metallo stresses a few important points. First, we should be aware of hunger in our community and be willing to take action to eliminate it. He also makes it clear that people, especially children, should have a healthy understanding of the food system (i.e. understanding what part they play in the food system). Most importantly, we should know where our food comes from and appreciate farmers, the people who do the hard work to grow it for us.

Organizations like Farmer Foodshare support farmers and teach us about the importance of having a healthy food system so that everyone has access to fresh, healthy food. Gardening is just one of many ways to participate, and its popularity and importance continues to grow.


Do you have a garden at home that produces more food than you can eat? Search for organizations in your area that provide food to people in need, and ask if they take donations! #EverybodyWins

Planting the Seeds: Future Food Citizens

By Allysan Scatterday




My, how times have changed.

In 1900, 41 percent of the US workforce was employed in agriculture. 100 years later, that number was a mere 2.1 percent. This shift means that most children today grow up disconnected from the system that brings food to their plates. They probably don’t live on a farm, and it’s likely that they don’t even know a farmer. The growing, processing, and distribution of food goes on behind the scenes. We tend to only see what we pull off of the shelf.

At Central Park School for Children in Durham, Anna Morrison is reconnecting kids to the food system, from farm to fork. Through project-based learning, her first grade class is incorporating farming into all aspects of the curriculum.

“We’re lucky we don’t need food, but there are a lot of people who do.”
— First Grader

In their outdoor classroom, students are taking a hands-on approach to environmental education while growing flowers and vegetables, making their own worm compost, investigating the soil, and getting creative in the outdoor kitchen. Their reader’s workshop includes books like Charlotte’s Web, and they’ve even done an art project with drawings of cows in the style of Andy Warhol. They’ve created surveys to gather data on how many families of students at their school grow food at home.

The class gets a CSA box from Green Button Farm and uses this produce to cook and conduct food investigations. The kids make a new recipe with a fruit or vegetable they may have never tried. Anna says the kids are much more willing to try unfamiliar foods when they can do so  alongside their peers, and many have been excited to talk about how delicious their creations are!

In addition to visiting local farms and the Durham Farmers Market, Anna's class recently made a trip to the Farmer Foodshare office at the Bull City Cool Food Hub in Durham. They learned about how we connect local farmers with people in the community who need fresh produce. They got to step inside our cold storage units (brrrr), see our team unload the truck, and sample strawberries and snap peas from local farms.

This week, Anna’s class hosted its very own farmers market and invited Farmer Foodshare to participate. Two student helpers staffed the table and told their peers and parents about their visit to Farmer Foodshare and the work that we do to connect farmers with citizens in our community who face hunger. They even drew us a special sign to hang on our table! One student mentioned to her mom how lucky their family is to have a full refrigerator at home. “We’re lucky we don’t need food,” she said, “but there are a lot of people who do.”

These children understand why the work of Farmer Foodshare is important and how it meets the needs of both farmers and community members. The students in Anna’s class are already thinking about the complexity of the food system that surrounds them. Education is critical to improving our food system, and we love that Anna is teaching her students to be informed eaters!

Earth Day

By Alicia Lee

On Saturday, April 22, we celebrate Earth Day! This day serves as a reminder about our shared responsibility to respect and protect Mother Earth. At Farmer Foodshare, we acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of farmers that commit to farming sustainably. “Sustainable agriculture” is the process of farming in a way, which maintains and protects the environment. The goal is to preserve local ecosystems and arable lands so that we can provide food for future generations. Crop rotation and planting cover crops are ways to prevent soil depletion. Using organic pesticides can protect the health of local water systems. Please consider implementing some sustainable practices in your own garden or talking with farmers at your local market about their farming practices. With a united commitment to improving our environment, we can all work toward a healthier future for our planet. Every day can be Earth Day!  

For more information about sustainable farming practices, check out the USDA's site!

Buying Local: Jam Included!

By Marin Lissy

Supporting local businesses is vital to maintain a stable economy and to create a sense of community among neighbors. November 26, 2016, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, was “Shop Local Day.”  Community members were encouraged to “shop local” by supporting businesses in their home town or city. Although every day isn’t “Shop Local Day” (“Shop Local Day” is November 25 this year), it is still important to try to support people of your community as often as possible, including farmers. Even though they may seem removed from some people's every life, they contribute to a large part of it -- especially our diets and nutrition. Even items as simple as ketchup are made with ingredients grown by farmers. That is why organizations, including Farmer Foodshare, are there to not only assist those struggling with hunger, but to also promote the well being of farmers. Believe it or not, there are farms nearby that can educate us all about the value of “staying local”.

At Fiddlehead Farm in Pittsboro, owner Emily Boynton and her husband, David, make a variety of flavored salts, hot sauces, jams, jellies, and preserves. I was lucky enough to visit the farm and participate in a jam making class hosted by Emily. She helped my friends and me through a simple strawberry jam-making process. After chopping off the tops of fresh strawberries (also called ‘hulling strawberries’), we added and mixed in fresh lemon juice and sugar. This concoction was transferred to a jam-making pot where strawberries cooked down in the sugar. In the meantime, mason jars were sterilized in preparation for canning the jam. Multiple rounds of tasting allowed us to adjust the recipe with more lemon juice (to make the jam more tart) or more sugar (to make it sweeter). At last, we poured our freshly made jam into the mason jars. Using tongs, we carefully placed the closed mason jars in a large pot of boiling water. This step sealed the jam jars to keep them fresh and shelf-stable for the coming year. We each took home two jars of our very own strawberry jam. Yum!


You can find Fiddlehead Farm’s products at the Pittsboro, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro Farmers Markets. To learn more, visit

How To Keep Your Heart Healthy

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Farmer Foodshare welcomes a new blogger: Marin Lissy loves to cook with her family and friends, and enjoys sharing delicious healthy recipes. When she's not balancing sixth grade academic activities, Marin enjoys reading, playing guitar, biking, and spending time outdoors.

Your heart is one of the most important organs in your body. It acts as a pump, supplying oxygen and nutrient rich blood to your entire body. Although it can’t actually “break”, as we hear artists drone on about on the radio, improper treatment can put anyone in the dog house. So how do we make sure we keep ourselves staying “up-to-beat”

First, let’s review what not to do. Sitting idle for hours on end watching a marathon of your favorite T.V. show is one big no. This doesn’t mean that you should trash television altogether-- just find a solution instead! For example, you can limit your time lounging on the couch. Do push-ups every ad break! Feel bad about not hitting the gym in a while? Don’t try to do something crazy because “you feel like you have to do it”. Try to gradually get into a normal routine instead of going all out. That way, you will still get the exercise you need without hurting yourself. Don’t swap your fruits and vegtables out for a bag of Doritos. Studies show that people who eat 5 servings or more of fruits and vegetables per day have about 20% less risk of heart related problems than people who eat little to no fruits/vegetables a day.

Wondering just what you should eat? Walnuts or almonds are one great choice. A handful can satisfy your hunger in a heartbeat. You can also try a number of fish, including salmon, tuna, halibut, or trout. They are full of omega-3s, an fatty acid that is essential for good health. Your body can’t make them, so you have to get omega-3s through food.

Keep your heart in good shape, because, after all, you really don’t want it to break.

"Turn Over A New Leaf" This New Year


Farmer Foodshare welcomes a new blogger: Marin Lissy loves to cook with her family and friends, and enjoys sharing delicious healthy recipes. When she's not balancing sixth grade academic activities, Marin enjoys reading, playing guitar, biking, and spending time outdoors.

Every New Year, millions of people create a resolution that they will try to keep as they start the new year. Maybe you want to eat healthier, lose some weight, or be more healthful in general. It can be difficult to know where to begin. My suggestion?  Take one step at a time. Start by “turning over a new leaf” by trying a new leafy green on your trek to become a healthier person!

Why all the commotion over kale? Most people think it’s just an over-rated vegetable that everybody raves about, so they don’t even think to try it. But after you hear what its got to offer, you’re going to find it hard to resist from jumping on the bandwagon yourself. First of all, it helps you lose weight. You end up getting full on fiber, vitamins, minerals, and vegetable protein instead of carbs, fat, and sugar. Kale can also keep you (and your brain) like a genius around the clock. How? A cup of kale is made up of 27% manganese, a mineral that serves as brain food. Without it, we would feel droopy and sleepy all day. Worried that you’ll get sick of it? Here’s a link to 99 different healthy recipes that all include kale.

If someone told you that that the collard greens you were eating with your barbecue were just as healthy as the spinach you were dieting on (and getting sick of), you’d probably run out of your house with a mouthful of barbecue screaming (a muffled) ‘Eureka! I have found it!’ like Archimedes. This relatively ignored Southern staple can help lower your blood sugar, reduce the risk of cancer, and keep you from gaining weight. So now you’re probably wondering why you’ve never explored this neck of the woods. To cook collard greens, you typically boil them for about an hour with smoked meat, such as bacon or ham. The meat provides a salt and flavor to the broth that the collard greens are in. You have to be careful with your recipes, since it’s (surprisingly) easy to chose something that can have too much fat/salt in it. A bad recipe can keep you from being able to “count” the collard greens, because the health benefits were counterbalanced with unhealthy aspects.

Egyptian, Turkish, Grecian, and other Mediterranean cuisines are all common places where you might find Swiss chard. This leafy green is also known as spinach beet, silverbeet, perpetual spinach, crab beet, and mangold. Chard has around 600% of your daily minerals/vitamins. Kale’s cousin fights cancer, improves heart health, prevents diabetes, strengthens your bones, and maintains brain, muscle, and nerve function. It also helps raise your metabolism and get rid of belly fat. Furthermore, the superfood is easy to cook, and its colorful stems make an elegant dish. Young Swiss chard is typically put raw in salads (since it’s milder in flavor), while more mature leaves are cooked (cooking them extracts most of the bitter flavor). Make sure to use leaves that are a deep green and with little discoloring.

All of these healthy greens are “new leaves” to consider turning over as you start this new year. Don’t forget to stay in good health as you make your way through 2017. Good luck to all of you New Years Resolutioner’s out there!


Helping Others


Farmer Foodshare welcomes a new blogger: Marin Lissy loves to cook with her family and friends, and enjoys sharing delicious healthy recipes. When she's not balancing sixth grade academic activities, Marin enjoys reading, playing guitar, biking, and spending time outdoors.


In December, peoples’ minds aren’t far from the thought of charity, and giving. I always love reading stories about valiant people who go to great odds to help the least of us. Here are a few inspiring stories.

Even small acts of kindness are contagious. This can start in the most unexpected places, including a coffee shop drive-thru line. People occasionally buy the drink of the stranger behind them. Often this is a catalyst for a chain reaction where everyone in line is buying a drink for the person behind them.

During the summer of 2014, in Canada, specific customers were invited to test a new ATM model. Little did these people know that this ATM was not an automated teller machine! It was an automated thanking machine. A single mother was granted some gifts that she couldn’t believe. After receiving $1,000 checks for each of her children, as well as a family pass to Disneyland, the mom was touched and near tears. A lucky Toronto Blue Jays fan was gifted with his favorite team’s attire, and got any baseball fan’s ultimate dream:  he was invited to throw the first pitch at a home game!

Giving food is another generosity, and even better, fresh food! In 2008, when Charlotte resident, Robin Emmons, discovered that 72,000 people in her community lack fresh fruits and vegetables in their everyday diet, she went to work. Emmons turned her entire backyard into a garden so she could distribute fresh produce to people who needed it. She has grown over 26,000 pounds of fruit since she started. Locally, Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s HOPE Gardens provides a learning experience for college and highschool students to serve their community and learn life skills. If you don’t want to rip up your entire backyard, you can start your own mini garden, or even rent a plot at a local community garden. 

These examples of charity are a motivation to all of us to help others. How can you help organizations in your community?  Donations are always a great way to help. Consider doubling up on your non-perishable foods to give to a local food bank. Non-profit foundations benefit from monetary contributions that assist them in continuing their service to the community. In the Triangle, there are multiple hard-working organizations such as Farmer Foodshare that serve the community in countless ways. And, it makes you feel good, too. Don’t forget to do your part, and keep them on your holiday giving list!

Four Foods You've Probably Never Tried Before


Farmer Foodshare welcomes a new blogger: Marin Lissy loves to cook with her family and friends, and enjoys sharing delicious healthy recipes. When she's not balancing sixth grade academic activities, Marin enjoys reading, playing guitar, biking, and spending time outdoors.

There are some really strange foods out there. Sometimes it is something like deep fried Oreos, or a new weird ingredient that your mom likes to use as an herb in her tea. Here are a couple foods that might surprise you.

Big coffee fan? Replace your morning staple with a cup of something slightly healthier : Pu-erh tea. A cup of it can enclose anywhere from 30-70 milligrams of caffeine. This fermented beverage is produced in China, and is named after Pu’er, a Chinese city. Still the “poetic” name doesn’t tell you much about the actual tea. Green and black leaves are both used to brew the tea, so there is a little bit of variety.

Grapefruit is infamous for its revoltingly bitter taste, but have you heard of its cousin, Pomelo? Pomelo is a grapefruit in disguise. Instead of having grapefruit’s orange-red skin color, it has more of a yellow-green tinge. It is native to south/south-east Asia. It is packed with many healthy benefits, including vitamins B and C, as well as potassium.

Dried Hibiscus

Dried Hibiscus

The hibiscus flower is worldly known for its beauty and elegance. The flower also has other pluses, including the fact that parts of it can be dried. Dried hibiscus, as you probably know, is used in tea. It can also be used as food coloring, a garnish on a dish, and can be even put in a cocktail! The dried flower is popular with dieters, and helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure regulation.

Celeriac is probably one of the weirdest looking vegetables. It is in the celery family, and is often known as celery root. It looks nothing like its relative, but tastes very similar. So overall, celeriac and celery are not the same thing. Celeriac embodies many minerals and nutrients, including vitamins B and K, iron, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.

These four are just a few of the random foods that are out there. Many more exist, and a little effort can get you to a website or recipe link to learn more about these and other crazy foods!