Posts filed under ‘Community Gardening’

Fertilizing a food desert

interfaith-food-shuttle-Hoke StAn urban farm and community garden has sprouted at 500 Hoke Street in southeast Raleigh. Though it’s only two miles from the capital’s trendy eateries, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle farm is at the heart of a “food desert.”

Most of its neighbors can’t afford to dine upscale downtown. And there’s no supermarkets nearby where they can find healthy groceries for their families. Urban food deserts typically rely on fast-food joints and convenience stores, where calories are cheap but not necessarily nutritious. That’s a recipe for the growing incidence of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and other costly ailments related to poor diets.

Hoke Street turned out to be an ideal location for the urban farm and training center for Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, the anti-hunger nonprofit serving Raleigh and seven surrounding counties for the last 25 years. The new three-acre site now includes community garden beds for residents wishing to grow their own produce, and an urban farm and training center for interns learning to cultivate and sell healthy food.


Katie Murray

“We set up this space so people could see how food is grown, and grow it themselves” said Katie Murray, who coordinates IFFS urban agriculture training programs. We visited during the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s annual farm tour.

Half a dozen families are growing vegetables in the new IFFS community garden. And there’s an open raised bed for curious neighbors who want to taste what’s sprouting — red leaf lettuce when we visited. IFFS also has cultivated a partnership with Will Allen, the now-famous MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellow behind Growing Power, the organization teaching young people around the country about innovative sustainable practices for urban farming enterprises. IFFS has four interns through the program, working at the Raleigh farm and learning about composting, vermiculture, aquaponics, hoop houses, mushrooms, micro-greens and more.

“The goal is to grow food here and sell it through local farmers’ markets and to restaurants,” Murray said. The interns are gaining experience to develop their own small enterprises through a collaborative local alliance.

The farm is adjacent to a 14,000 square-foot warehouse, where IFFS stores local food gleaned from farms and delivers it to neighborhoods through its mobile market program. The IFFS warehouse also serves as a community grocery store during a monthly market on fourth Fridays.

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle also has a Teaching Farm on Tryon Road, with incubator plots for those ready to start their own farming enterprises.


October 15, 2014 at 3:46 pm 4 comments

Feeding, teaching and helping people to cook and grow food

Handing out onions at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s mobile market at Martin Street Baptist Church in Raleigh. Photo by Billy Lane in the News and Observer.

One of the biggest challenges in growing a sustainable foodshed is making healthy food available and accessible to all. That’s especially difficult when there are so many people out of work, and  when low wages, including for those who grow and process our food, mean that many workers struggle to put nutritious meals on the table. The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and many volunteers tackle these challenges every day by feeding, teaching and helping people cook and grow  food. Here’s an excerpt from a great story about it by Burgetta Eplin Wheeler in the News and Observer:

Folding tables lined with oranges, apples and sweet-smelling strawberries. Cardboard bins bursting with cabbage, collards and all kinds of bread. Aproned workers wearing bright and helpful smiles.

This was the healthful and happy picture that recently greeted folks who moved from a line outside Martin Street Baptist Church into the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s first mobile market open to all in need in Raleigh.

More than 115 families walked away with bags and boxes stuffed with some of the 10,000 pounds of goods that IFFS had hauled to the church in two refrigerated trucks.

“I work a part-time job, and I barely make it,” said Earlyne Bascombe as she filled a bag with collards. “This is such a blessing.”

The mobile market is but one of a multitude of programs offered by the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, whose motto is: “We feed. We teach. We grow. Give a man a fish. Teach a man to fish. Stock the pond for all.”

• Feed? IFFS is filling the school-year gap by providing breakfast, lunch and snacks this summer to children in low-income areas. In Wake County, where 33 percent of schoolchildren qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, food is available in eight locations.

• Teach? The nonprofit offers a culinary job training program that prepares those with severe life challenges for careers in food service. It also offers apprenticeships for teenagers interested in learning how to farm.

• Grow? IFFS has its own 6-acre farm in Raleigh and helps low-income neighborhoods start community gardens.

“We realize we have to do more than just give people food,” said Kia Baker, the agency’s director of food recovery and distribution. “We’re building the food security system.”

Read the rest of the story.

June 16, 2012 at 5:56 pm Leave a comment

Shitake mushroom workshop

Here’s a great way to celebrate spring, contribute to a unique community garden, and learn how to grow shitake mushrooms.

The Carolina Campus Community Garden will have a shitake workshop on Sunday March 20 from 1 to 3 p.m.  You can learn how to grow shitakes by helping UNC staff and students prepare 12 logs with mushroom plugs for the garden. Leading the workshop will be Aaron Moody, a geography professor who grows mushrooms on the side.

You will also get to sample some delicious dishes made with shitakes. How about some mushrooms with fontina cheese over polenta?

The garden was developed last year by Claire Lorch and colleagues to give UNC employees and students access to fresh local food that they can raise themselves and share with others. It’s located on University property on Wilson Street, off of Cameron Avenue just a couple of blocks west of the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill.

The workshop is free, but you are welcome to give a donation to the garden. For more information, contact Claire at

March 17, 2011 at 7:56 pm Leave a comment

Teens learn to farm and lead

By Dee Reid


When I pulled up in front of the SEEDS community and youth garden in Durham, conveniently located next to the Food Bank, I was amazed to see huge vegetable gardens on both sides of the street. After entering the first section, I realized it was even bigger than what I had seen from my car.  There were community plots, a Seedling Garden for children, a green house and hoop house, compost bins, clay-bale oven, hand-made pond, mushroom logs, herbs, pollinator garden, a fire pit, sheltered outdoor classroom, and beautiful murals. All just past the railroad tracks in east Durham.

Even more impressive, my tour guides were inner-city teens who knew a heck of a lot about farming. Sharada Fozard-McCall and Vianey Martinez love learning, growing, cooking and talking about it — all part of their jobs as year-round crew members of SEEDS DIG program (Durham Innercity Gardeners). They especially love selling produce and flowers at the Durham Farmer’s Market.

“We learn so much that adults come to us now for knowledge,” said Vianey.  And, they get paid. “It’s pretty awesome,” said Sharada.

The community garden beds are leased to local residents on a sliding fee scale ranging from $1 to $35 a year.


Their DIG garden is across the street and includes vegetable, flower and herb beds, bee hives, and a shed with a rooftop garden and cisterns.

“Alot of time, effort and love went into this,” said Vianey.

And it shows.

— SEEDS was one of two dozen farms on the Eastern Triangle Farm Tour this week-end. Photos by SEEDS.

September 18, 2010 at 8:48 pm Leave a comment

Urban bounty

By Dee Reid

From left, Ishmael and Keith with summer produce ready for Vimala's, 9th Street Bakery and Trosa Grocery (Photo by Bountiful Backyards)

Keith Shaljian believes that fresh, local, organic fruits, herbs and vegetables shouldn’t just be for affluent foodies.  That’s why he and his colleagues at Bountiful Backyards partner with other community organizations to start sustainable gardens in unlikely locations.

I first met Keith when Bountiful Backyards was helping to install a community garden that would provide job training for homeless persons in Chapel Hill. I found him again this week-end at Two Ton Farm, an amazing urban permaculture garden with produce, fruit, flowers and herbs, filling the 2500-square-foot lot surrounding Jruth Manor, a transitional house in North East Central Durham. They call it Two Ton Farm because they intend to eventually be able to harvest 2-3 pounds of food per square foot.

“We want this to be a replicable model of sustainable life, expanding access to local, fresh organic food at an affordable cost,” Keith explained during the Eastern Triangle Farm Tour.

He and Sarah Vroom, also of Bountiful Backyards, explained that the garden shows that you can grow enough food on an urban lot to feed multiple families or to start a micro-business by selling to local food enterprises.

The Durham garden is a community collaboration involving several other organizations including Good Work (a sustainable community development organization), Green Space Initiative (working to connect Durham to its agricultural roots) and Jruth, Inc., developing social entrepreneurship strategies for homeless persons, ex-offenders and others.

The project broke ground May 1.  Working with Jruth residents, teens and other volunteers the group developed compost, mulch and 15 French intensive double-dug raised vegetable beds. They also planted herb and pollinator plots,  elderberries and blueberries, according to a plan designed for sustainability and low maintenance. They have harvested more than 275 pounds of fresh produce to sell or give to neighbors, restaurants and community organizations.

Check out photos and video about Two-Ton Farm, produced by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

More photos of Two-Ton Farm on Facebook.

September 18, 2010 at 7:27 pm 1 comment

Sustainable food fun all week-end, June 12-13

Three special events are coming up this week-end, where you can learn to cook healthy local food on a  budget, check out the amazing urban farming scene in Carrboro, and share a farm-fresh potluck supper with with Clyde Edgerton, Kickin’ Grass and local farmers and artists at the famous community college farm lab in Pittsboro.  Plan carefully and you can take it all in. Here’s the schedule:

You bought it so cook it: I love what Linda Watson is doing with her Cook for Good lessons: proving that you can eat fresh, local, sustainably grown food, even on a food-stamp budget — if you cook it yourself and use all of it wisely. She will show you how to save time and money while eating delectable fare in a way that’s good for you and the planet.   Saturday June 12, 2-3 p.m. at Chatham Marketplace in Pittsboro. $5 for CM member/owners, $10 general public. You must pre-register, call 542-2643.

Carrboro Urban Farm Tour: More than 15  backyard gardens and food enterprises will be open for inspection for the third annual urban farm tour in Carrboro, the Paris of the Piedmont. I participated last fall and loved visiting community gardens, all kinds of intensive vegetable beds, apiaries, chicken coops, and an artisanal bakery at a co-housing neighborhood.  Saturday June 12, 2-6:30 p.m., including walking and biking tours and a potluck supper at the end of the day. Pick up maps at Carrboro Raw, across from Weaver Street Market.

Potluck in the Pasture: When local artists, foodies and farmers converge, the result is pure pleasure. ChathamArts presents the 5th Annual Potluck in the Pasture, featuring local author Clyde Edgerton, music by Kickin’ Grass, and a chance to meet plenty of other local artists. Stonemason Joe Kenlan and Greek food goddess Angelina Koulizakis (Angelina’s Kitchen) will be running the wood-fired pizza oven with fresh dough from My Neighborhood School and fresh ingredients from the garden. Bring a potluck dish to share or plan to purchase fresh produce at the market on site, and enjoy getting a tour of the sustainable student farm and herb garden. Admission is $8 at the door, $5 online, kids under 10 free. Sunday June 13, 5-7 pm, Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro.

— Dee Reid

June 6, 2010 at 6:48 pm 2 comments

Crop Mob, Sunday, Carrboro

If you’ve been curious about the now famous Crop Mob and Carrboro’s amazing urban ag scene, here’s an opportunity to get involved in both. Crop Mob will work at several Carrboro garden locations this Sunday March 21 from 12 noon  until 5 p.m., followed by a dinner.  Show up  and work hard and you are sure to pick up some new skills, eat good grub, and make new friends. And you’ll even see where some of the “mobsters” live and garden.

“We’ll be mini-mobbing Carrboro,” says Andrea in the Crop Mob Facebook invitation, “3 house gardens, 1 community garden and 1 co-op garden. All of these locations, in addition to being the home-base gardens of crop mobbers, are on the map for Carrboro Greenspace’s 3rd Annual Urban Farm tour (June 12th) and we are hoping this mob will spur the creation of an urban crop mob in Carrboro/Chapel Hill.” That would be sweet.

Here are the details—–

What: there will be garden expansion, renewal, bed creation, tomato transplanting, cob & cedar greenhouse construction, chicken coop building and plenty of weeding.

What to bring (if you have): digging forks, shovels, trowels, hand weeders, wheelbarrows, a spoon & bowl or plate. (Don’t forget to label your tools.)

Where: come to one of 3 main locations; bike or carpool if possible:
* Carrboro Community Garden
* The BOG Co-op (102 Crest St) will be the base for 1 other home
* 201 Lindsey St will be the base for 2 other homes (and will also be the final destination for all mobbers for the meal)
See map for directions, parking & details:

Feel free to forward this to anyone who might be interested.

Please RSVP to so they can plan the food.

March 16, 2010 at 6:43 pm Leave a comment

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