Farmer Foodshare seeks new Executive Director

Farmer Foodshare is now seeking applications for its next Executive Director.

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The Executive Director serves as the senior leader, primary spokesperson, and advocate for Farmer Foodshare and leads the organization in developing the vision, infrastructure, funding, culture, and competencies necessary to sustain and scale its operations.

Armstrong McGuire & Associates, based in Raleigh, NC, is conducting this search in partnership with Farmer Foodshare’s Board of Directors. To view a detailed description of the opportunity and to apply, click on the links below. You will see instructions for uploading a cover letter, resume, salary requirements, and professional references. In case of any technical problems, contact mendi@armstrongmcguire.com. No phone calls, please, and no applications will be accepted by email or through third-party sites. Applications will be considered through November 22.

Policy in Action: Child Nutrition Reauthorization

At Farmer Foodshare’s September 26 Speaker Series event, Self-Help’s Policy Director David Beck noted that Congress is currently considering the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR), which authorizes all of the federal child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Food, Summer Food Service, and WIC programs. The last CNR - known as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 - was a major victory for farm to school, as it was the first time federal legislation specifically mandated funding and support for farm to school efforts.

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In this iteration of the CNR, there are two particular opportunities to expand farm to school work: the Farm to School Act and Kids Eat Local Act. Members of Congress need to be educated about their benefits and the importance of including both in the CNR. In short, both bills would help schools source local food and provide funding for innovative projects like school gardens and seasonal vegetable taste-testing that help kids learn where food comes from. In addition, the Farm to School Act would increase mandatory funding for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program (See this USDA 7.16.19 release on the 2019 Farm to School grants. Beaufort County schools are a recipient). The Kids Eat Local Act would simplify the process for schools to source locally grown, raised or caught product.

The current pressing need is to build Senate support for these two bills, so reaching out to Senator Tillis and Senator Burr to educate them on these bills is critical. The message is: include the Farm To School Act and the Kids Eat Local Act as part of the CNR will help strengthen NC’s Farm to School program and support small farmers. NFSN (The National Farm to School Network) and NSAC (the National Sustainable Ag Coalition) are leading educational efforts in Washington.

Locally, the North Carolina Alliance for Health and CFSA (the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association) are both excellent resources. Lastly, Self-Help sends out a weekly email, Sustainable Food Systems News Update, on Friday afternoons. Those interested can click here to sign up. Folks can also email David Beck at david.beck@self-help.org

Leadership Change at Farmer Foodshare

Dear friends,

After seven years of service, leadership, and passion, Gini Bell will be stepping down as Executive Director of Farmer Foodshare on October 15.

Last December, Gini became a mom for the first time and started to consider how her role might change. She sums up the experience in this way:

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It's been an incredible whirlwind, and totally upended my priorities in the most amazing way. I've decided to step out of Farmer Foodshare's leadership role in order to make more space for my newest role of parent, and to allow new leadership to help the organization grow into its next phase.

I am immensely proud of the growth and successes Farmer Foodshare has had in developing the local food system and serving the community. I look forward to staying involved with the organization as a volunteer and supporter.


The Board and team at Farmer Foodshare would like to thank Gini for her incredible dedication. Under Gini’s leadership, the organization grew from a staff of 3.5 to 12, tripled its income, and expanded its program offerings and footprint.

Please rest assured that during the transition, the work of Farmer Foodshare will continue uninterrupted and that the Board is taking a thoughtful approach to selecting the organization’s next leader.

With the announcement of Gini’s departure, we established a search committee and have engaged the help of Armstrong McGuire & Associates to support the transition. Together we are working with staff and partners to assess future needs, conduct the search, and provide interim leadership support so that the mission of Farmer Foodshare continues forward.

We anticipate that the search for a new Executive Director will launch in October, and we hope to have selected a new leader by the first of the year.

With gratitude,

Nicole Kempton
Chair, Board of Directors

Closing the Hunger Gap 2019

by Braedyn Mallard, Program Manager for Donation Stations and Food Ambassadors

Here at Farmer Foodshare, I consistently find myself sitting in rooms surrounded by the most inspiring and dedicated human beings.

Image: Facebook.com/closingthehungergap

Image: Facebook.com/closingthehungergap

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This year’s Closing the Hunger Gap Conference was no different. I was part of a breakout session at the conference that featured some of the innovative ways that community organizations and NC Cooperative Extension are partnering to address food security. Our Donation Station in Wilmington, NC, and the Borrowing Kitchen at the Christians United Outreach Center (CUOC) in Lee County, NC, were the two programs highlighted. 

Over the past couple of years Farmer Foodshare has worked with Cooperative Extension in New Hanover County to connect Extension Master Food Volunteers (EMFV) with our Donation Station program. You’ve probably heard of the Master Gardener program (or seen Master Gardeners at your local farmers market.) The EMFV program is similar, but whereas Master Gardeners promote gardening, the EMFV program is designed to engage residents in food and nutrition programming in their community. They also train volunteers to further expand the reach of NC Cooperative Extension.

Since April 2019, the Master Food Volunteers have served at the Donation Station at the Wilmington Farmers Market. In that time, they have collected and spent just over $775 with local farmers and collected/donated around 225 pounds of produce to Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. Impressive!

I was really intrigued to learn about the Borrowing Kitchen in Lee County, NC — the second partnership highlighted on the panel. The Borrowing Kitchen loans kitchen equipment, free of charge, to food pantry clients at the CUOC in conjunction with Extension nutrition education classes.

I am so inspired by the work of Teresa Kelly (CUOC) and Alyssa Anderson (Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for Lee County) and Annie Hardison-Moody (Extension Specialist) at the Borrowing Kitchen. The idea for the program was sparked by low income mothers in rural NC. In interviews with Hardison-Moody, many of the women shared that they wanted to eat and prepare fresh food, but they didn’t have the cooking equipment they needed. So Hardison-Moody, Anderson, and Kelly worked together to build and pilot the Borrowing Kitchen in Lee County.

This breakout session illustrated how Cooperative Extension is uniquely positioned to help organizations like ours build capacity across the state. I know I’m grateful for all our dedicated extension agents across the state of NC!

The votes are in!

Empty sampling cups mean students gave fresh veggies a big thumbs up!

Empty sampling cups mean students gave fresh veggies a big thumbs up!

If you have school-aged kids, or well...if you live anywhere near kids...you can’t have missed that it’s back-to-school time. The airwaves are full of promos for backpacks and new outfits. Advertisers don’t spend as much time talking about school lunches, though. 

And yet that’s perhaps where the greatest need lies. More than 60% of kids attending Durham Public Schools qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch. They depend on school meals for their daily nutrition.

Your support has been making it possible for them to eat well and learn to make healthy food choices. 

Here’s the impact you’re having:

  • During the 2018-19 school year, Farmer Foodshare delivered fresh, North Carolina-grown produce each week to all 47 Durham Public Schools, ensuring that all 33,000 students had regular access to the freshest, most nutritious food possible. 

  • With support from cafeteria managers, we conducted 38 taste tests at 18 elementary schools and 2 pre-K’s through our Food Ambassadors program. All told, more than 8,000 students participated! 

Students vote on kale!

Students vote on kale!

Those 8,000 kids had an opportunity to sample and learn about a variety of veggies. And then they voted -- loved it, liked it, or “maybe next time.” The big news -- they’re fans!

When the students tried kale, 79% liked or loved them. Collards: 75% thumbs up. Sweet potatoes: 76%! Surprisingly, the kids were less excited about the butternut squash, one of the sweeter options. Only 66% of students liked or loved them. We think it might have something to do with the consistency, and that with a longer cooking time, the kids may enjoy them more. 

Encouraging kids to make healthy food choices is a big part of the strategy for Food Ambassadors, and we also learned a few things along the way that will influence our strategy going forward:

  1. Conducting taste tests on Friday / Fry Day makes for some pretty stiff competition. We ensured that every kid sampled the produce by giving the kids a cup of veggies (and again, they liked them!), but left to their own devices and a binary choice, most kids will still pick fries over veggies. 

  2. It doesn’t have to be a binary choice! School nutrition staff want kids to feel free to choose as many items as they’d like, but sometimes teachers present the options as “this” or “that.” We advocate reframing the choices as “would you also like…?”

  3. For the learnings to stick, kids need more frequent exposure.

During the 2019-20 school year we’ll be heading back to Durham Public Schools with food deliveries each week. And we’re already scheduling taste tests with cafeteria managers! But on the theory that less is more, we’ll be conducting taste tests at fewer schools with greater frequency

If you live in the Triangle area and would like to join us, you can come see taste tests firsthand -- we always need volunteers! But even if you’re farther away, your support makes a huge difference. Please consider giving today.

Special thanks to our partners at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC Foundation, GlaxoSmithKline U.S. Community Partnerships, Durham County, the USDA Local Food Promotion Program, the Z Smith Reynolds Foundation, the Mead Family Foundation, and a host of individual donors for funding our work in schools.

Everyone’s a fan of collards!

Everyone’s a fan of collards!

Are You Ready to Celebrate National Farmers Market Week (Aug 4-10)?

It’s the perfect week to support your local farmers! 

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by Marin Lissy

This time of year, tons of delicious produce is in season: tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, and peppers, to name a few. But farmers markets are more than just a place to purchase food. They serve several roles in our communities: increasing access to fresh, nutritious produce; encouraging sustainable farming; and providing an important outlet for producer-to-consumer sales. 

Farmer Foodshare works to remove the barriers that farmers — especially small and mid-scale farmers — face in trying to make a healthy living. According to the Farmers Market Coalition, “Farmers and ranchers receive only 15 cents of every food dollar that consumers spend at traditional food outlets.” In order to have its produce sold at traditional food outlet, small farms must produce at a capacity that does not justly correlate with the amount of money they receive. 

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At a farmers market, farmers receive 100% of your food dollar. Plus, you can meet and interact with the person who grew the food you are purchasing. It’s a win-win! 

Our farming communities are also strengthened by farmers markets. In 2015 survey, 81% of farmers selling at a market said they incorporated sustainable agriculture in their farming, between reducing tillage, and using cover crops and natural pesticides. The income that farmers receive from markets helps them preserve their rural livelihood and maintain farmland for farming.  

Farmers markets are an incredible resource right here at home, and they help lift the communities that they’re located in. Look for opportunities to learn more about your food and support your local growers this National Farmers Market Week!

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Want to get involved?

Visit your local farmers market and chat with the farmers while you shop. They love to talk about the food they’ve grown. Or you can donate or volunteer at a Donation Station near you! Your participation helps increase farmer sales and push more fresh produce into your community.

Read more:

Marin’s experience as a teen volunteer

Longtime Donation Station volunteer Tom Melton on why farmers markets rock

The Kids Are Alright: Burmese teens present on the importance of keeping traditions alive

Talar Hso (left) discusses the oral history project that the teens are conducting in conjunction with a folklorist at UNC. Not only are they learning more about their own culture, food, and history, but they’re also gaining skills in interviewing, documentary filmmaking, and public speaking.

Talar Hso (left) discusses the oral history project that the teens are conducting in conjunction with a folklorist at UNC. Not only are they learning more about their own culture, food, and history, but they’re also gaining skills in interviewing, documentary filmmaking, and public speaking.

“What does food justice mean to you?”

The Transplanting Traditions Youth Collaborative posed that question to a packed house at the Chapel Hill Public Library in late June. It was the perfect opener for the second installment of Farmer Foodshare’s “Learn with Us Speaker Series: Understand the Legacy of Race in Farming,” a lively discussion and presentation run entirely by the group’s teen members. It was broadcast on Facebook Live, but if you missed it, you can watch the whole thing now (and you should)!

WATCH NOW!

Transplanting Traditions’ mission is provide refugee adults and youth access to land, healthy food and agricultural and entrepreneurial opportunities, and Farmer Foodshare partners with them through our Community Foodshare program. The Transplanting Traditions Youth Collaborative has been built from the ground up by the youth involved, and through Community Foodshare and additional opportunities for community engagement, they’re able to translate family recipes, prepare foods for sampling, and actively promote broader access to the traditional Asian vegetables grown in our local community.

Watch the teens’ inspiring presentation HERE! 

Sofia Thein (right) explains the significance of the farm as a space for community-building and describes the mental health benefits the refugees experience from being able to grow familiar types of food in their new home.

Sofia Thein (right) explains the significance of the farm as a space for community-building and describes the mental health benefits the refugees experience from being able to grow familiar types of food in their new home.

What does food justice mean to you?

What does food justice mean to you?

Farmer Foodshare’s Whitney Sewell introduces Farmer Foodshare’s role in supporting the work of farmers and organizations like Transplanting Traditions.

Farmer Foodshare’s Whitney Sewell introduces Farmer Foodshare’s role in supporting the work of farmers and organizations like Transplanting Traditions.

Understand the the Legacy of Race and Farming: Speaker Series featuring Phillip Daye, North Carolina Director of FoodCorps

Join us for the 3rd event of the series of presentations from Local Food Leaders + Volunteer Training. Featuring Phillip Daye, North Carolina Director of FoodCorps and Steward of century-old LM&D Farm in Rougemont, NC. 

Our shared vision for this workshop is to ENGAGE in not just learning but taking an action to support our local food system by volunteering with Farmer Foodshare programs and partners, FoodCorps, throughout the region. To support this effort, directly after the talk, we will offer a volunteer training session to prepare YOU to get plugged into YOUR community food system in a meaningful way!


FREE EVENT! Generously sponsored by Courtney S. Brown of Hunter Rowe Real Estate Agents & Advisors Durham.

RSVP HERE

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Service in the Eyes of a Teen Volunteer

My name is Marin Lissy, and I’m a ninth grader in Chapel Hill. I’ve been volunteering with Farmer Foodshare since I was in the sixth grade—I wrote a few blog posts (like this one) and even created a “kid-approved” cookbook as a Farmer Foodshare fundraiser. 

Recently, I’ve started volunteering regularly at Farmer Foodshare’s Donation Station at the Chapel Hill Farmers Market. People often remark “You’re so young!” or ask me how old I am. While I guess it makes sense to me that they are surprised to see a young person volunteering, I wonder: why does it have to be that way? How can I change that?

BEYOND SERVICE HOURS

Why are people surprised to see young people volunteer? Teenagers are more often seen as being moody, self-centered, obsessed with their phones, and even trouble makers. Yikes! The truth is, though, that more and more young people are participating in community service.

According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, about 55% of youth ages 12-18 participate in some kind of volunteering activity. That’s almost twice the rate of American adults who volunteer (29%). 

So, how can we increase these numbers for both youth and adults?  

The main reason teenagers volunteer is in order to complete their volunteer hours requirement (25 hours are required for high school graduation in the state of North Carolina). Mandatory service hours are one way to encourage youth and teens to volunteer, but it shouldn’t just stop there. Engaging teens in service activities that cater to their interests and talents can have a positive impact and keep them occupied and productive.

WHY VOLUNTEER?

While I can’t say foodshare programs have always been my primary interest, but since I have been volunteering with Farmer Foodshare, I have grown to become quite fascinated with farming and bringing fresh food to “food deserts.” I also love to write, and writing blogs (like this one) for Farmer Foodshare is something that caters to what I enjoy. 

Volunteering with Farmer Foodshare, for me, is a way to escape from thinking about myself, and exposes me to a lot of truths about the world: some people don’t have access to their next meal, especially a healthy meal. Meanwhile, farmers can struggle to sell their produce in order to make a living.

Connecting with other people and working together to solve problems can help lead everyone to develop a strong sense of community between farmers, people who need food, and the people who help bridge the gap. 

It may sound cliche, but I’m always in a better mood after volunteering. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to contribute to people in my community. I would strongly encourage anyone to partake in some kind of community service, whether it be with Farmer Foodshare or another wonderful organization. And if you ever make it to the Chapel Hill Farmers Market on a Saturday morning, make sure to stop by the Donation Station and say hi!   

A Marin’s-eye-view of the Chapel Hill Farmers Market from behind the Farmer Foodshare Donation Station table.

A Marin’s-eye-view of the Chapel Hill Farmers Market from behind the Farmer Foodshare Donation Station table.

What’s on the Truck? SWEET CORN!

All summer long, we’re shining the spotlight on some of the fruits and veggies you might find on a Farmer Foodshare truck and on their way to stores, restaurants and nonprofits around the Triangle. This week: Sweet Corn!

All through the month of July, sweet corn is FREE for members! Sourced from…you guessed it! Farmer Foodshare!

All through the month of July, sweet corn is FREE for members! Sourced from…you guessed it! Farmer Foodshare!

What is It?

Corn, mainly known as sweet corn or maize in North Carolina, is a starchy plant common in cuisine from a variety of cultures. Corn is predominantly harvested as a cereal crop, used to make flours, bread, and more. It can be eaten raw off the cob or cooked by steaming, stir-frying, baking—just about any way you could imagine! Healthy ears of corn are protected by a strong, fibrous outer stalk of leaves with no damage or bruising.

Did you know? 

  • The average ear of corn has 800 kernels in 16 rows.

  • Cobs always have an even number of rows.

Why Should You Eat it?

Corn is a great source of dietary fiber and necessary carbohydrates. It’s also a good source of Vitamin C, folate, niacin, and potassium.

How Do You Eat It? 

Shirliey F. in Oakland, CA shared with us a delicious recipe for warm farmers market summer corn and potato pesto salad that she created:

“For the pesto, blend together garlic, toasted walnuts, extra virgin olive oil, coarse gray sea salt, and fresh basil. For the salad: celery, celery leaves, corn on the cob cooked for scant 2 minutes and then cut off cob, boiled yellow potatoes (roasted sweet potatoes would be amazing too!), lots of parsley, lightly boiled zucchini, sea salt and ground pepper to taste. Mix together and eat warm!”

The beauty of corn is that is can be enjoyed so many different ways!  Here are a few ideas:

Grilled Cream Corn

Raw Corn and Avocado Salad

Perfect Corn on the Cob for Dummies

Spicy Cornbread


For more facts, nutrition information, and recipes, see our Sweet Corn Fact Sheet!


Check out our whole resource guide full of veggie fact sheets and recipes in English and Spanish!

My How We’ve Grown: a Board Member Reflects

In this post on the Healthy Places By Design blog, our longtime board member Tim Schwantes reflects on how he — and Farmer Foodshare — have grown over the last six years. Tim, thank you for all your hard work — we are going to miss you!

Lessons from Six Years of Supporting Food Systems Change

By Tim Schwantes, Healthy Places by Design

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Last month, I completed my last term as a member of the Farmer Foodshare board of directors.

Farmer Foodshare formed in 2009, and I began supporting its work early in its life. This statewide, North Carolina based nonprofit has a dual mission of helping people who need food while supporting local farmers. The organization does this by making fresh, local food available to everyone in the community and ensuring that the farmers who grow it make a healthy living.

When Farmer Foodshare started its work, providing fresh food through food assistance programs was an innovative approach to not only increase food security, but also to address higher rates of obesity and overweight in low-income populations. It highlighted how traditional food banks could better serve their communities while also acknowledging the economic needs of farmers. Almost no local hunger relief organizations were using this strategy at the time.

I hope that I gave as much as I gained from this innovative organization. I met an expanding network of people in my community who are passionate, smart, and working to solve many of the issues plaguing our food system. I also gained four important insights, about food systems specifically and nonprofit work in general, as I watched the organization grow.

Read the full blog post here

What's on the Truck this Month? ZUCCHINI!

All summer long, we’re shining the spotlight on some of the fruits and veggies you might find on a Farmer Foodshare truck and on their way to stores, restaurants and nonprofits around the Triangle. This week: Zucchini!

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What is Zucchini?

Zucchini is a variety of summer squash. Zucchini is usually dark green (even black!), but certain types can also be found in lighter shades and even yellow. Zucchini looks like an elongated cucumber or green squash. The flesh is soft and succulent and often lighter than the outer, darker skin.

Did you know?

This “vegetable” is actually an immature fruit. Also: zucchini were first brought to the United States from Italy in the 1920s.

Why should you eat it?

A zucchini has more potassium than a banana! It’s also a great source of Vitamin C, dietary fiber, folate, and beta carotene.

How do YOU eat it?

David P of Durham told us: “We have a thing that makes noodles out of zucchini, great for Pad Thai! And for those who need a lot of help to eat veggies, the Good Lord gave us ranch dressing.” Let us know your suggestions!

More ways to eat it:

Summer Minestrone

Best Baked Zucchini

Zucchini Bread

Learn more at our Zucchini Veggie Fact Sheet, packed with recipes, nutritional information, fun facts, and more!

Check out our whole resource guide full of veggie fact sheets and recipes in English and Spanish!

What's on the Truck this month? BEETS!

In honor of Eat Your Veggies month, we’re highlighting just a sampling of what you might find on a Farmer Foodshare truck and on their way to stores, restaurants and nonprofits around the Triangle during the month of June. Next up: BEETS!

What are beets?

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Beets are root vegetables. They come in beautiful rich colors and have a big, sweet flavor. Generally 2-3 inches in diameter, they have the highest sugar content of any vegetable. Beets come in 3 colors; red, white, and yellow or golden beets. Red beets are the most commonly grown and watch out(!)…they stain. In addition to having a delicious root, a beet’s greens are edible as well.


Did you know?

From the Middle Ages, beetroot was used as a treatment for a variety of conditions, especially illnesses relating to digestion and the blood.

Why Should You Eat it?

Despite their sugar content, beets are low in calories and fat, yet high in valuable vitamins and minerals. In fact, they contain a bit of almost all the vitamins and minerals that you need!

Also: Beets are a good source of fiber, which is beneficial for digestive health, as well as reducing the risk of a number of chronic health conditions.

How do you eat it?

Asta in Chapel Hill shared this easy and delicious idea: “Roast mixed root veggies with olive oil, salt, pepper— beets, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes sweet and regular, Brussels sprouts, etc. Throw in garlic and onion, too—whatever takes your fancy.”

More ways to eat your beets:

Warm Beet and Spinach Salad

Smoky Beet Hummus

Olive Oil Baked Beet Chips

For more facts, nutrition information, and recipes, see our Beet Fact Sheet!

Check out our whole resource guide full of veggie fact sheets and recipes in English and Spanish!

What’s on the Truck this month? KALE!

Farmer Foodshare delivers fresh produce each week, and what’s on the truck depends on what’s in season here in NC. In honor of Eat Your Veggies month, we’re highlighting just a sampling of what you might find on a truck for the month of June. First up: versatile, healthy, delicious KALE!

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So, what is kale?

Kale is a member of the brassica family (like cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts) and is thought to have descended from wild cabbage. Kale has long been one of the most popular greens due to its comparatively mild taste. Varieties include curly green, lacinato (also called dinosaur or Tuscan kale) and Russian red kale.

Did you know?

Kale has been cultivated over 2000 years and was the most commonly eaten green in Europe until the end of the Middle Ages! 

How do you eat it?

Good question! We asked YOU how you like to eat your veggies, and you had great responses!

Jessica G. of Durham had this creative suggestion: “Pesto! You can use any greens—my people like kale and parsley best—and any nut. We usually have pecans or almonds on hand. Add garlic, olive oil, cheese is optional, and my secret ingredient is about a tablespoon of maple syrup!”

Beth P. in Durham gave us her tip for getting her kids to eat their veggies: “Leafy greens are great in smoothies—my kids will drink them as long as they get to push the buttons on the machine, and there’s fruit besides.”

Here are some ideas and recipes from the Farmer Foodshare archives:

Simple Sautéed Kale - Brown an onion and 2 cloves of garlic in olive oil. Add roughly cut pieces of washed kale and sauté until color brightens and leaves become tender, just a couple of minutes. Season to taste and serve while warm.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes and Greens and Beans

Chicken and Kale Pizza Bake

Want to know more? Our Veggie Fact Sheet on Kale has tons of recipes, nutritional info, facts and more!

We have a whole resource guide full of veggie fact sheets and recipes in English and Spanish!



Foodshare Programs: Both Sides of the Table

Ronneshia the Volunteer at the Farmer Foodshare Donation Station in Carrboro

Ronneshia the Volunteer at the Farmer Foodshare Donation Station in Carrboro

Community Voices Guest Blogger

Ronneshia jackson’s first experience with a foodshare program was as a volunteer helping others…and then she found herself on the other side of the table.

by Ronneshia Jackson

I absolutely love food! My very existence revolves around pastries, bacon, fruit, and all things green. So, a few years ago, after I had just graduated college, I decided I wanted to volunteer with an organization that focused on food—specifically, helping people learn about and gain access to healthier food. I was living in Alabama at the time, and I began volunteering with a non-profit (not unlike Farmer Foodshare) with the mission of combating hunger in urban communities in the greater Birmingham metropolitan area.

At that time, I appeared to be a young lady with a sound take on life. Nice Jeep. Two-story home (mom’s house) in a nice neighborhood. Fluffy Husky puppy. Aren’t we fancy!

Ronneshia the “carefree” recent college grad

Ronneshia the “carefree” recent college grad

As a recent college graduate, I had ambitions to secure a position within my field. And as a Millennial, I wanted to establish myself within my company, community, and family. I had something to prove!

Two weeks after becoming a foodshare volunteer, I lost my (paying) job. My mother wasn’t working at that time, either. So what appeared to be a nice home with lovely amenities was actually a family struggling to serve a decent, healthy meal.

But as it turned out, the foodshare program was there for me on both sides of the table: I became a volunteer and a recipient. And in doing so, I learned that the scope of these programs include more than serving urban neighborhoods; they’re really about reaching everyone.

One side: The Volunteer.

Volunteering, I meet a huge range of people. As I help the newly single father load his car with fresh fruits and veggies, he softly shares the challenges of his laborious journey as a single dad. Next, I help the mom dressed in yoga pants and an oversized t-shirt pack vegetables and eggs into reusable bags. It amazes me how she fits everything (including four kids!) into her suburban full of sports equipment. Now, I get to listen to my favorite patron — a sweet old man on social security, who is full of funny stories and enjoys trying our recipes. As a volunteer, you serve as a beacon of hope to all, whether what they need is life connections, an extra pair of hands, or a listening ear.

Another side: The Recipient.

Now I’m on the other side of the table. I listen to an energetic volunteer explain how spaghetti squash got its name as I receive help maneuvering through the vast selection of kale. Another volunteer is trying her best to persuade me to try the beets…or at least to try the radishes. All the while, I can feel the tears of gratitude brewing behind my eyes. Tonight, my mom and I will have a fresh and healthy meal—with leftovers!

Nonprofits like the one I was a part of in Alabama and Farmer Foodshare here in North Carolina reach the entire community! As a volunteer, you learn the importance of having access to fresh produce and vegetables; as a recipient, you value the relief that these foodshare programs provide. But it’s really just two sides of the same table.

Now that I’m volunteering at Farmer Foodshare, I see how we’re striving to connect the individuals who grow the food with the people who need the food. Our reach touches every social class, ethnicity, heritage, gender, race, and individual…in essence, it’s truly food for all.

Learn With Us Speaker Series + Volunteer Training: Understanding the Legacy of Race and Farming

Learn With Us Speaker Series + Volunteer Training

UNDERSTANDING THE LEGACY OF RACE AND FARMING

Special Guests: Transplanting Traditions Youth Team

June 27th - 6pm Chapel Hill Public Library, 100 Library Drive

The Transplanting Traditions Youth Collaborative has been built from the ground up by the youth involved. Through the program, the teens build their leadership and public speaking abilities, deepen their understanding of racial equity and food justice, and develop audio and video documentary skills. The teens work as advocates for the refugee community by giving farm tours, speaking at conferences, and providing cooking demonstrations at the farmers market. Come engage with the youth about food justice in the refugee community and learn how to get involved with your community with a quick training opportunity for Farmer Foodshare's Donation Station and Food Ambassadors programs. 

RSVP your seat today! FREE TO ALL!

Special thanks to our sponsor: Courtney Brown of Hunter Rowe Residential Real Estate Agents & Advisors 

Join us for the 5th Annual Cardinal Directions Beer Festival Benefitting Farmer Foodshare

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WHEN: June 29, 6pm-9pm

WHERE: Carrboro town commons

WHAT: A celebration of NC craft beer with proceeds benefitting Farmer Foodshare!

HOW: GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!

30+ NC craft breweries are bringing their best to downtown Carrboro, joining them are food trucks, local bands and craft vendors. Tickets are $20 and include festival glass and five 4-oz pours; additional pours available for $1 each.

Get Your Tickets NOW!

This event is organized by Steel String Brewery in Carrboro. Here’s a current list of participating breweries—which continues to be updated:

Fullsteam Brewery
Botanist and Barrel
Starpoint Brewing
Fortnight Brewing Company
Southern Pines Brewing Company
Bhramari Brewing Company
Resident Culture Brewing Company
Noble Cider
HopFly Brewing Company
The Glass Jug Beer Lab
The Mason Jar Lager Company
Bond Brothers Beer Company

Also, Cousins Maine Lobster will be joining us for the first time, serving up their delicious lobster rolls!

More info and updates at the Facebook Event Page

We hope to see you there!

Acreage IPA from Foothills Brewing supports Farmer Foodshare

Foothills Brewing in Winston-Salem, NC has released the newest iteration of its Craft Happiness Project — Acreage IPA — brewed especially to support Farmer Foodshare! It’s brewed with Amarillo, Azecca, and Mosaic hops, and is available NOW at a bunch of bars and breweries across the state.

WHERE CAN I FIND IT?

Check this map to find out where Acreage is on tap.

Foothills Brewing creates a new brew each month to support a different cause. Read more about the Craft Happiness Project and how it came to be on the Foothills Brewing blog: Good Beer that Does Good




Community Foodshare: Share the Experience

Community Foodshare at Reality Ministries

Community Foodshare at Reality Ministries

Last year, Farmer Foodshare partnered with Reality Ministries to offer the community shares of fresh, local food each week, all summer long.

Many of you also donated shares, enabling neighbors in need to experience those same North Carolina peaches and tomatoes, lettuce and eggs - food that they otherwise would have challenges accessing.

People like Mildred.

All told, 211 people benefited from Community Foodshare produce, recipes and nutrition tips - two thirds of them from donated shares. It was a win all around: 80% reported eating more produce, and 70% said they felt more knowledgeable about fresh food.

You can create that same impact again this summer.

The Community Foodshare program has grown. This year, Farmer Foodshare is partnering with three organizations - Reality Ministries and Communities in Partnership in Durham and Transplanting Traditions Community Farm in Chapel Hill. Each offers neighbors the opportunity to participate in a regular fresh food distribution/CSA. We hope you'll participate.

But we also hope you'll donate a share.

Your gift of $18 (for a week) or $180 (for a 10-week season) will bring the joy of fresh fruits and veggies to someone who wouldn't otherwise be able to access them.

Someone like Mildred.

Honor the mother in your life

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This Mother’s Day, consider making your gift in honor or memory of a person close to your heart. We will gladly send a Mother’s Day card, notifying them of your gift.

The Role of Women in Agriculture

by Alicia Lee, Bonner Intern

Transplanting Traditions ’ Zar Ree Wei: incredible farmer and mother of 6!

Transplanting Traditions’ Zar Ree Wei: incredible farmer and mother of 6!

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and that has us thinking about ways to honor and acknowledge the contributions of mothers and women worldwide. You can (and should!) celebrate Mother’s Day by calling or sending a card or flowers your own mom or other women who have had an influence on your life for all their support. This year, though, we invite you to celebrate Mother’s Day by learning about the crucial role that mothers and women play in agriculture and farming, and how that impacts society throughout the world.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that women represent 43% of the agricultural labor force worldwide. The same study shows that the majority of those women are relegated to the lowest paid, least secure positions, the ones with the worst labor conditions.

Why is this?

Why are women internationally dismissed to inferior labor positions in farming?

Obviously, there is more than one answer, but here is one shocking fact: in roughly 90 countries, women are outright prohibited from owning land. This prevents large swaths of women from being able to support their families by operating their own farms.  Even in places where owning land is “legal,” women are often denied loans that could help them buy it or invest in better, more efficient farming technology that would increase crops and allow them to turn a profit from farming.  

What if this weren’t the case?

The World Economic Forum found that female farmers reinvest 90% of the money they earn back into their farms and their communities, leading to greater levels of food security and increased opportunities for generations to come. The Forum also found that countries where women enjoyed greater property rights had lower levels of domestic abuse because greater financial independence allows women to leave abusive relationships. Women in agriculture - specifically women who possess their own farms - are the gatekeepers to a better future for many communities worldwide.

A better future in terms of improved nutrition, increased educational achievement, and a reduction in domestic violence can all start through supporting female farmers. You can participate in this crucial global change by checking out the Closing the Crop Gap website which provides more information of global agricultural gender disparities and various ways to get involved today.

Want to do something?

Yes, the research mentioned here is focused internationally, but you can address this issue in your very own community. This can be as simple as getting out to your local farmers market and buying from the female farmers in your own hometown. Or you can purchase a CSA through Farmer Foodshare’s partner Transplanting Traditions, which directly supports female refugee farmers by buying their produce and then donating some of it back into the refugee community. Learn more about that program here.

You also can find more in depth information on the status of women in agriculture in the following sources: