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


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


WHEN: June 29, 6pm-9pm

WHERE: Carrboro town commons

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


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.


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:

Whole Foods Raises Nearly $30,000 for Farmer Foodshare on 5% Day

Farmer Foodshare’s Executive Director Gini Bell (left, behind check) and Director of Development and Communications Kate Rugani (right, behind check) were thrilled to accept a HUGE check (pun intended!) at the Chapel Hill Whole Foods Market.

Farmer Foodshare’s Executive Director Gini Bell (left, behind check) and Director of Development and Communications Kate Rugani (right, behind check) were thrilled to accept a HUGE check (pun intended!) at the Chapel Hill Whole Foods Market.

Shoppers who came out on Whole Foods’ 5% Day on April 18 raised nearly $30,000 — $29,927.70, to be exact — to extend Farmer Foodshare’s mission of fresh local food for all!

The whopping sum was collected as part of Whole Foods’ 5% Day program, through which Whole Foods donates 5% of the day’s net sales to an organization nominated and voted on by Whole Foods team members. Farmer Foodshare was honored to be chosen as this quarter’s recipient for the six stores in the Triangle area.

Farmer Foodshare Development Associate, Deb Boxill (left) and volunteer Erika Williamson at the Durham Whole Foods on April 18.

Farmer Foodshare Development Associate, Deb Boxill (left) and volunteer Erika Williamson at the Durham Whole Foods on April 18.

We had a blast that day connecting with people, handing out swag, and enticing shoppers to learn more about the local food system with a huge tower of Chapel Hill Toffee. HUGE shoutouts to the managers and team members from each of the six Triangle stores in Durham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and Cary for being such gracious hosts.

And of course, thanks to ALL of you who came out and shopped. You created more opportunities to support local farmers and help our entire community - particularly kids - access fresh food!

New Hanover County welcomes Donation Stations!

We’re thrilled that WECT did a feature to highlight the new Farmer Foodshare Donation Stations at the Wilmington and Poplar Grove Farmers Markets — and so grateful for our Cooperative Extension partners for making it possible!

Introducing Donation Stations: A new way for the community to support local farmers and food security

by Gabrielle Williams 

The New Hanover County Cooperative Extension is launching Donation Stations at local farmers’ markets.

Here’s how it works: shoppers will be able to buy fresh produce from local farmers and vendors and then donate it at a station, or they can donate money which will be used to buy produce at the market. At the end of each market, that donated food will be given to local food pantries in the area.

“The idea is that it’s a win-win for everybody," says Morgan Marshall, the Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent with NHC Cooperative Extension. “So we’re not asking for a discounted rate on produce; we’re giving the farmers the full amount of what their produce is worth. We’re not giving food pantry clients that B-grade, second-hand produce. They’re getting produce that looks like it came from a farmers’ market.”

The Donation Stations will be at the Wilmington Farmers Market at Tidal Creek and the Poplar Grove Farmers Market. They will be there on the first and third Saturdays and Wednesdays of each month from now through September.

Read the whole piece and watch the video here

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!

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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.

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