Creamy full kernels of delectable sweet corn smile from the husks as they are tugged back. Jumbo zucchini and a rainbow variety of peppers fill corners of boxes as they are packed for pick up. Laughter fills the alcove where volunteers meet Bishop Todd Fulton and Deacon Russell Johnson straining with heavy crates full of produce each Friday late afternoon.
The Food Justice Committee of the Minister’s Conference is now in the sixth week of an eight- week summer local, urban, Black Farmer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiative. Full boxes of produce for a family of four are a full share. Many smaller households have opted for a half-share. Eighteen different households have participated in this weekly bounty, supplied by the community garden on Cleveland Avenue and 22nd Street, the Alpha and Omega Church garden on Gray Avenue, and Mt. Moriah Outreach garden in Kernersville. There are often eggs in the share from Mt. Moriah to complement summer squash, sweet corn, peppers, tomatoes, and occasional produce from other local farmers.
Those who have purchased shares have also appreciated the opportunity to support other households who have little to pay for fresh produce. More than 120 pounds of additional vegetables are distributed each week through this project, thanks to the Mt. Moriah Outreach Center food support program.
“Eating this fresh produce, I have more energy and it gets me out interacting with our neighbors because it’s really more than we can eat in a week,” says Rev. Dr. Stephen Boyd at a recent share pick up.
Several other share members commented how much they look forward to the delivery time, interacting with our farmers and one another. “It truly has offered a sense of community in this time of uncertainty,” one offers.
The project started back in May when Bishop Fulton prepared the rich earth at Cleveland Avenue for a clutch of volunteers to drop seeds in the ground early on a Saturday. Volunteers have come by through these past months to water in between the rains. Deacon Russell Johnson has been steady with cultivating, lawn mowing, trash pick-up, harvesting, and watering to keep it all going smoothly. Minister Eddie Moser, Karen Bell Chandler, Dr. P.E. Wilson, Rev. Melinda Hash, Rev. Dr. C. Anthony Jones, Rev. Dr. Warren Dunn, and our President Tembila Covington have also all had their hands in the earth supporting this effort.
We await water from heaven so we might plant a fall crop in the same parcels of land. The summer project has created momentum for a fall CSA starting the first week of October. We are collaborating with Rural Advancement Foundation International USA (RAFI-USA) “Come to the Table” program and farmer Christiana Benton of Janco Community Farms, a local Black farmer. Full shares are $250 and half shares are $125 for eight weeks of weekly delivery. The payments will be due by early September. Pick-up will be from a central location on Wednesdays from 4 pm to 6 pm.
We are currently looking for at least five churches that can rally particular members to participate to pay and receive a share. We are seeking a representative from each church who can help work on the details of pick-up and delivery. We have a goal of at least 30 full shares this fall to make this a viable project. For more details, please feel free to contact Jarred White at email@example.com, 919-548-4730, Bishop Todd Fulton, Fultontodd1@gmail.com or Rev. Craig Schaub, firstname.lastname@example.org, 336-602-5829.
Farmers of color in the U.S. continue to endure systemic racism within the food system that causes significant social, economic, and political harm. They often have less access to markets, fewer beneficial relationships, and fewer financial opportunities. This can result in higher rates of debt, lower land ownership, and fewer farmers of color able to keep their farms. This local Forsyth County project, in a network of others like it expanding across the state of North Carolina, can make a real difference in keeping our local farmers of color going. Your support of this CSA is a step toward racial equity, greater food security, and the health of our local community. One of the core principles of the CSA idea is that consumers pay up front and share the bounty and the risk with the farmer, forming a bond of mutuality and support. It changes our relationship to the land, to our food, and with those who produce our food.
By Rev. Craig Schaub