FarmsSHARE is a program that was started in 2020 by Carolina Farm Stewardship Association as a response to COVID-19. And now, almost three years later, federal and state agriculture officials have funded the program to keep it going – and even expanding its reach to help underserved communities increase its access to fresh, local-grown foods.
Working Landscapes, a Warren County non-profit agency, is one of FarmsSHARE’s hub partners that provides fresh, locally grown produce to three locations in Vance and Warren counties.
FarmsSHARE began as a way to help connect people with healthy food, but it also was a way to provide financial support to small businesses during the pandemic shutdown.
State agriculture officials have gotten $7.6 million to keep the program up and running, working with 15 hub partners and more than 200 community-based organizations across the state to obtain and distribute 133,000 boxes of local food. The farms and food hubs also receive assistance to enter new markets for local food.
Working Landscapes works with local partners Turning Point CDC in Henderson, as well as the H.O.P.E. Regional Medical Clinic and Loaves & Fishes Ministries, both in Warren County.
ByWay Foods Hub is one aspect of the Working Landscapes operation, works out of two downtown Warrenton locations. The primary location is on Franklin Street, on a repurposed historic site that once housed a cotton gin and flour mill. That’s where the fresh-cut vegetable operation is based. It’s also where the team manages the CSA-style program provides fresh, healthy foods to community residents.
“Creating more opportunities for North Carolinians to source local products from North Carolina farmers is beneficial all around, for consumers, farmers, and our local food supply long term,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Expanding FarmsSHARE…is expected to strengthen and expand our efforts and allow food hubs to connect and develop relationships with socially disadvantaged farmers, small farmers, and small businesses to the benefit of local farmers and communities.”
Funding for the program comes from the American Rescue Plan. Questions regarding how to participate as either a farmer or distribution site should be sent to Kana Miller, Local Food Distribution Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org and 919.542.2402 ext. 831.