WAXHAW, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Farm-to-table is more than a movement or some sort of gourmet restaurant concept; it’s also an approach to the fight against hunger.
“It’s healthy; it’s grown naturally,” said Joe Rohrer of Boy and Girl Farm in Waxhaw. “Just taste the freshness.”
Rohrer says for too many, fresh produce has become a luxury.
“Don’t have access to it, either food deserts, or can’t afford it with the prices of fruits and vegetables these days, it’s hard,” he said.
Joe’s wife, Amy, processes what they pick. During the summer, they grow far more than they can sell.
“Summer produce over-produces!” she marveled.
A community partnership turns their abundance into a resource; Amy sees that as a win-win.
“We’re able to sell things that might have otherwise gone to waste,” she said.
The result is free ingredients for folks like Brunetta Gaither of Charlotte, who’s strapped for cash.
“Oh, it’s been hard,” said Gaither. “If you’re retired, a senior on a fixed income, you do what you can to survive.”
Such stories led to a collaboration that takes that locally grown food from farm to cardboard. Well, that’s the first step. Every week, Freshlist packs hundreds of boxes, which the nonprofit The Bulb Gallery distributes to the Charlotte community.
“The box this week is cabbage, cantaloupe, zucchini, cucumber,” explained Matt Martin, Freshlist’s operations manager.
Martin showed us red cabbage from Boy and Girl Farm, where this story began.
“It’s a really good product to put into stews or braises,” Martin suggested.
In January, Mecklenburg County Commissioners approved $919,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to extend this program for two years.
Nearly one in seven households in Charlotte need more food to meet basic needs.
“Farm to table in the best way possible,” said Ebonee Bailey, The Bulb’s executive director. “We’re paying the farmers, we are able to pay staff to box the produce and staff to distribute the produce, and it’s at no charge to the residents.”
“The biggest piece of that being that they’re going to have reliable income over the winter, which is the season that is hardest for them,” said Erin Bradley, Freshlist’s farm and feeding programs coordinator.
Essentially, the idea is to think inside the box.
“So hopefully, the families that are getting this, it provides some sort of relief for them,” Martin said, packing a long line of boxes.
The project’s been a boon at Camp North End, one of The Bulb’s mobile markets. They’re set up like a farmer’s market at over a dozen locations.
“We have lots of onions, so I’m going to give you some. Corn?” we heard a worker tell a woman in line.
The food trail goes from a farm to a box to a mobile market, one step closer to the table.
“Give me strawberries, great,” said Gaither, who we introduced you to earlier. “That means a lot when you get food straight from the farm.”
It’s a relief in its freshest form.
Boy and Girl Farm owners feel good knowing what could have been wasted has a home.
“It’s an actual good way to spend government funding, you know?” said Amy Rohrer.
The collective goal is the same, whether you think of it as farm-to-table or dub it something else, as Bailey has.
“Produce of the people!” Bailey called it.