Donation Station Spotlight: God's Storehouse

by Braedyn MalLard, Donation Station Program Manager


I recently took a trip up to Danville, Virginia, to meet with the folks at God’s Storehouse, our Donation Station recipient agency at both the Danville and Virginia Grown Farmers Markets. I am so grateful for the inspiring people I meet on such a regular basis doing this work—people who do the hard, thankless job of making sure everyone in our communities have enough food to eat. People like Karen, Emily, and Bo (the Director, Assistant Director, and Americorps VISTA, respectively) at God’s Storehouse.

Danville, Virginia, is a beautiful little town situated on the Dan River near the North Carolina border. At one time Danville was home to the largest single-unit textile mill in the world. But as the story has gone in so many small towns throughout the southeast, the industry left, and a lot of folks who relied on those industries to make ends meet were left in its wake. In the area that God’s Storehouse serves, there are roughly 19,000 people living below the federal poverty line and another 6,500 who are only slightly above that mark—making God’s Storehouse’s work so vital for so many people in their community.

God’s Storehouse serves over 200 families a day. They also recently installed a beautiful community garden in the lot adjacent to their office that was previously vacant. As you can imagine, serving so many people each week is a massive operation that takes a team of dedicated volunteers. These same God’s Storehouse volunteers also staff the Donation Stations on Saturdays. Last year, God’s Storehouse volunteers collected and spent almost $1,800 with local farmers in their community and collected and distributed almost 6,000 pounds of fresh, local produce.

I know I speak for everyone here at Farmer Foodshare when I say that not only are we proud to work with organizations like God’s Storehouse to ensure that all people have access to fresh, local food, but we are also humbled by the incredible work they do every day to nurture and strengthen their community.

Bo Maher (Americorps VISTA) and Emily Holder (assistant director)

Bo Maher (Americorps VISTA) and Emily Holder (assistant director)

From Seed to Store

The afternoon of Sunday, April 14, was rainy and dreary, but the energy inside the Durham Co-op cafe was bright and lively! To celebrate its fourth anniversary, the Durham Co-op invited some of the most innovative local community partners working to improve our food system for a panel discussion entitled “Seed to Store.” Each participant talked about the role they play in the journey that starts at the farm and ends on the grocery store shelf…and on our plates at home. Farmer Foodshare was honored to be part of the conversation!


Shep Stearns of Farmer Foodshare’s Wholesale Market (second from left) joined Jacob Rutz, Executive Director of The People’s Seed, Jennifer Curtis, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Firsthand Foods, Sandi Kronick, CEO of Eastern Carolina Organics, and Kamal Bell, CEO of Sankofa Farms.

Durham Co-op Community Outreach Coordinator Raafe Purnsley (far right) organized the event and moderated the lively discussion.

Durham Co-op Community Outreach Coordinator Raafe Purnsley (far right) organized the event and moderated the lively discussion.

The group told stories, swapped ideas, shared plans for the future, and answered questions from the audience. “We have a really vibrant local food system,” said Shep. “It was just so exciting to have all these great minds in the same room!”

It was an enlightening afternoon, and Farmer Foodshare is grateful to all the panelists, attendees, and the Durham Co-op for making it happen.

Serving Up Smiles

Operation Share the Love is complete!

The cafeteria teams at Durham Public Schools work long hours each day to make sure that students receive fresh, nutritious meals. We thought it would be nice to let them know how much we appreciate them.

So many of you responded to the call in our fall newsletter to mail back postcards with notes of encouragement. Thank you!

Because of you, we were able to drop off those little valentines at all 47 schools.

The result: big smiles to serve up with those collards.


Special deliveries at Carrington and Brogden Middle Schools and Little River, Oak Grove, and Sandy Ridge Elementaries

Breaking Down Barriers to Fresh Food

For the past couple of years, the Community Foodshare program has given Farmer Foodshare the opportunity to work collaboratively with a network of local organizations to provide fresh, North Carolina-grown produce, nutrition tips, and recipes to community members. 

In the process, it has opened doors to those who otherwise couldn’t access fresh food. 

The process is simple: individuals have the option of purchasing a “share” for themselves, or they can sponsor a family in need. All summer and fall, participants then pick up weekly fresh food bundles at a participating site, which in 2018 was located at Reality Ministries in Durham. 

Enter Ileana Vink, a DukeWELL dietitian. 

Ileana Vink, RD, MPH

Ileana Vink, RD, MPH

Ileana works with Medicaid patients through Northern Piedmont Community Care. She provides medical nutrition therapy to patients in their homes, communities, and medical 

provider's offices, based on referrals from primary care providers and Medicaid data. She also connects her patients with local food and nutrition resources. 

Ileana became familiar with Farmer Foodshare through Julian Xie, who leads Root Causes, a student group at Duke Medical School that coordinates the Duke Outpatient Fresh Produce Program 

Root Causes incorporates fruits and vegetables donated through Farmer Foodshare’s Donation Station at the Durham Farmers Market into its offerings for food insecure patients. 

"Many of my patients grew up on farms and were used to cooking and eating fresh food,” Ileana said. “But cost, transportation, and a host of other issues have become major barriers for many of them." 

Ileana partnered with Farmer Foodshare to make the donated shares available to her patients, enabling them to consistently access fresh food and nutrition resources all season long. 

"Breaking down these barriers is huge,” she explained. “If you don’t have access to fresh food, you don’t have your health.” 

Mildred, a Community Foodshare participant

Mildred, a Community Foodshare participant

Mildred, one of Ileana’s patients, believes that the weekly recipes have helped her get back into the kitchen and become more creative. 

“As for the fruit,” Mildred said, smiling softly, “I ate a bushel of peaches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner one week. They were so delicious.” 

Produce is often an expensive item in the grocery store, so it has been a welcome addition to the participants’ weekly meals. 

“The fruit they’re receiving is so beautiful and fresh, and it is an important component to my patients’ diets,” Ileana shared. “My patients can now replace ice cream with blackberries! One did and has lost a lot of weight.” 

Another patient told Ileana that she’d never had such fresh, delicious lettuce before, and she was excited to share it with her young grandchildren and expose them to a new healthy food. 

Farmer Foodshare will continue Community Foodshare in 2019 and hopes to continue working with DukeWELL patients. “When you make one change, other changes begin to happen,” Ileana explained. 

“Community Foodshare has given my patients important tools that they need to change their diet and in turn, their health." 

Farmer Foodshare’s Community Foodshare program is growing. The initiative has received three years of USDA NIFA funding to expand to additional communities. It will operate in partnership with three organizations beginning this summer: Reality Ministries and Communities in Partnership in Durham, and Transplanting Traditions Community Farm in Carrboro. Contact Whitney Sewell at for details on how to participate in a program near you. Together, we can create a community around fresh food. 

Your support created a successful program that will serve as a model for others. Thank you for enabling Community Foodshare to reach more people in need. 

Small Tasks, Big Impact: Volunteer Spotlight on Farmer Foodshare's own Amy Gregory

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month! To kick it off, we’re featuring the multitalented Amy Gregory of Farmer Foodshare’s Wholesale Market team. She can do it all! Here’s Amy’s take on why she volunteers, and how small things can make a big difference.

Small Tasks, Big Impact

By Amy Gregory

Live Better. Help Often. Wonder More.

To say these words are why I volunteer is over simplifying, but pretty accurate. I think most people enjoy the "feels" that come from helping others. Finding opportunities within our own communities is typically the hardest part. When we think about where to start, what can can we contribute, where is the greatest need, it can be daunting. Volunteering doesn't have to be grandiose; in fact, often it’s the smaller tedious things that require attention and represent the greatest need. For me to find these opportunities to volunteer, I have only to ask around the office!!

Yes, I work for Farmer Foodshare, but I am also a volunteer! You can find me doing things like packing produce for distribution during the holidays, working Donation Stations at local farmers markets, taking photos at our speaker series, arranging flowers at our Roots & Revelry celebration, or just doing small things to help spread the word about the amazing things Farmer Foodshare does in the community.

As a member of our Wholesale Market Team, I am involved in the logistics of getting products from our farmers into the community. Our Wholesale Market delivers fresh NC produce to Durham Public Schools throughout the school year. We are very proud to be part of Durham Bowls, a program conceived by Food Insight Group, Durham Public Schools and various local chefs. You can learn all about this great program here Durham Bowls.

Farmer Foodshare’s Wholesale Market worked with Durham Public Schools to acquire some novel ingredients that were required for these innovative recipes. One of these ingredients was pureed carrots lots and lots of pureed carrots!

This is where contributing small things can make a BIG difference. Portioning out 228 quarts of carrot puree was not difficult, but it did require some time and the use of a certified kitchen space. With the help of my ever-enthusiastic and accommodating husband and The Butchers Market Raleigh, we made it happen—and it was loads of fun! Not only did we enjoy spending quality time together, knowing our efforts contribute directly to Durham Public School children was incredibly rewarding.  

Ready to get in on the fun?

Check out our volunteer opportunities

While you’re at it, sign up for our

Volunteer Newsletter

Amy and Jeff have a blast volunteering together

Amy and Jeff have a blast volunteering together

Do you carrot all? Cause that’s a lotta carrots.

Do you carrot all? Cause that’s a lotta carrots.

Amy’s intrepid husband Jeff was undaunted by the task!

Amy’s intrepid husband Jeff was undaunted by the task!

Mark Your Calendars! April 18 is Whole Foods 5% Day Benefiting Farmer Foodshare!

Whole Foods 5% Day copy.png

Start making your shopping list!

On Thursday, April 18, 5% of net sales at the six Triangle-area Whole Foods stores listed below will be donated to Farmer Foodshare. Farmer Foodshare is reshaping the local food system by increasing access to healthy, nutritious food and creating opportunities for North Carolina family farmers.

Remember, when you buy food for your table on April 18, you're also helping your community eat well too.

Please share widely — and please stop by any of these locations on April 18. We'll see you there!

Whole Foods Market - Cary
102B New Waverly Place, Cary, NC 27518

Whole Foods Market - Chapel Hill
81 South Elliot Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Whole Foods Market - Durham
621 Broad Street, Durham, NC 27705

Whole Foods Market - North Raleigh
8710 Six Forks Rd, Raleigh, NC 27615

Whole Foods Market - Raleigh
3540 Wade Ave, Raleigh, NC 27607

Whole Foods Market - West Cary
5055 Arco Street, Cary, NC 27519


What does Yoga have to do with Farming?

Join Farmer Foodshare for a yoga class followed by a small meal and discussion of mindful eating.

Come learn how yoga principles and mindful eating relate to sustainable farming!  Farmer Foodshare interns/certified yoga teachers Taylor Jost and Everette Oxrider are offering a one-time yoga class/food workshop on Sunday, April 7. Read on for Taylor’s personal story of how it’s all connected.

Taylor Jost: Yoga teacher, Farmer Foodshare intern, and author of this post

Taylor Jost: Yoga teacher, Farmer Foodshare intern, and author of this post

Dairy makes me depressed. Literally.

Don’t get me wrong, I was a huge milk drinker growing up (a glass with every meal!), and when I went vegetarian in high school, I overcompensated with all the greek yogurt and cheese in the world. As if the normal coming-of-age chaos during my time in high school wasn’t enough, the massive wave of dairy only further deepened my depression and anxiety.

I didn’t realize this at first. It wasn’t until the end of my junior year that I stepped back and listened to my body. I realized that absolutely nothing in my life had changed, other than removing meat and adding too much dairy. I remember one sleepless night where I was feeling especially horrible about the way my body and mind felt, then suddenly I had this revelation that called me to veganism. My mother treated it like teenage pregnancy: “This is going to be such a burden on the family…,” “this will be so costly…,” “another meal I have to cook!?”

Did you know that 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut? I find this absolutely mind-boggling. But it kind of explains why, for me, dropping the dairy and eating more greens really helped my depression and anxiety. The point of this story is not to tell you to stop eating dairy; instead, I want you to listen to your body and ask whether the things you are eating serve you and make you feel good.

As if being vegan wasn’t already too much “woo-woo” for my mother to handle, I got super into yoga. I’m now a certified yoga teacher and very passionate about the intersection between what we learn on our mats about mindfulness and what we put on our plates. The classic yoga text the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali outlines clear ethical guidelines in the form of yamas (social restraints) and niyamas (self-disciplines.)

The first yama, ahimsa, translates to non-violence. Ahimsa calls us to consume food that is produced ethically and sustainably. Ahimsa asks us to self-reflect and determine whether we are contributing to the violence that is the industrial food system and reroute our actions. The first niyama is saucha which means purity of the body, soul, and mind. Being mindful of saucha enables awareness of the food we put into our bodies – staying away from food that is toxic to us in order to strengthen the mind-body connection. Reminding myself of ahimsa and saucha before I buy or make food allows me to address numerous factors:

Who picked my food?

Where was my food grown?

How did it get to my plate?

Does the cost of my food equitably compensate the people involved in getting it to my plate?

What environmental degradation occurred so that I could eat this meal?

Am I wasting food?

Am I really hungry?

Am I full?

Am I nourished?

What we practice on the mat in yoga has the ability to extend into every outlet of our lives, even to the dinner table. Yoga is about listening to our bodies, being mindful of our actions, and learning to detach from anything not serving our greater purpose. Yoga calls us to be mindful of what we are putting into our bodies and where this food comes from. Practicing mindfulness is an effective way to recognize the flaws in our food system and allows us to make better choices to resist this system.

If you want to learn more about the intersection between yoga, mindfulness, and food – join Farmer Foodshare for a yoga class followed by a small meal and discussion of mindful eating. I will be leading the flow and discussion, and Everette Oxrider, another Farmer Foodshare intern, will provide optional adjustments and modifications during yoga. This flow will be accessible to all levels of practitioner, target all muscle groups, increase flexibility, and will strengthen the connection between mind, body, and soul.  Come breathe, stretch, and eat with Farmer Foodshare in community.

Event Details:

WHEN? Sunday, April 7, 5:00-6:30pm

WHAT? One hour of vinyasa yoga followed by a light meal and presentation

WHERE? Bull City Cool Food Hub, 902 North Mangum Street, Durham NC 27701 (at the corner of Geer St and Mangum St)

WHERE TO PARK? There is a small parking lot out front, but there is also plenty of free street parking along Mangum

WHAT TO BRING? We will have some mats, but feel free to bring your own!

WHAT TO WEAR? Comfy, stretchy clothes you can move in! No special footwear required—yoga is practiced barefoot

More details? Check out the Facebook Event for updates, questions, and to RSVP

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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.


“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.”

GOOD GREENS: Sesame Collards

COLLARD GREENS! YUM! A hearty green that grows well through winter and spring + packs a lot of calcium!   Image from

COLLARD GREENS! YUM! A hearty green that grows well through winter and spring + packs a lot of calcium!
Image from

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.


  • Large pot

  • Kitchen knife

  • Cutting board

  • Measuring cup

  • Tablespoon

  • Teaspoon


  • 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


  • 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: 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. 


Story by Alyzia McAllen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Farmer Foodshare Featured on One Meal a Day Blog

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


by Ashley Schaeffer Yildiz

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

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


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

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

Read the full article on the OMD Blog

Speaker Series and Volunteer Training January 23rd

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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.


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

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

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

The Food Ambassador Chronicles


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Report from the field (well...cafeteria)

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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.”


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!