We are excited to announce that we will soon take our program on the road, with a Farm to School Farm Stand, offering fresh, locally-grown foods at low or no cost, to areas in the county that are considered “food deserts” by the United States Department of Agriculture. Food deserts are generally defined as areas that have low or inconsistent access to affordable or healthy food, over 33% of residents qualify as low-income, with most lacking personal transportation and is located at least .5 miles away from a grocery store. Alongside our Farm Stands will be a “Farmer Fair” for all ages! These Farmer Fairs will bring the farm to the community neighborhood with food tastings, chef demonstrations, hands-on cooking and gardening activities, fun educational games and much more!
Over a sixteen-month period, the Johnson County Hunger Task Force analyzed food insecurity in the county and generated a range of solutions to help area residents in need increase access to food. In response to the report findings (find link bottom center), the Johnson County Board of Supervisors allocated funding for three new hunger relief programs: A mobile food pantry, a food pantry at a secondary school and farm stands.
In October and November of 2016, Field to Family will work with the Crisis Center’s mobile food pantry, staging the Farm to School Farm Stand alongside their mobile pantry at select locations determined by their knowledgable staff. Our role will be to support efforts to procure local foods from local farmers, organize educational activities for all ages and showcase cooking demonstrations and food tastings featuring the fresh produce available at the farm stand.
Springtime will find us back at it again, with an expanded farm stand, offering free produce, plus subsidized locally grown and processed foods available, along with the “Farmer Fair”-type educational offerings.
In August, we held our first pilot Farm Stand in conjunction with a community Back to School event located in one of several areas in Johnson County designated a food desert. Grow: Johnson County donated nearly 700 pounds of freshly harvested produce that was distributed to the community. We hosted a chef to offer cooking demonstrations and food tastings. Overall, it was a very successful event, reaching nearly 100 families. Check out pictures from this event on our Facebook page.
Support from Johnson County allows us to begin this program and offer a limited number of farm stands this Fall. With further support from the community, we can expand our reach with regular weekly farm stands at select locations in the Spring of 2017, bring together additional partners and resources, offer more fresh, local foods all with the goal to reduce Johnson County’s rate of food insecurity. In order to better serve the community, reduce labor expenses and increase our reach, we are building a mobile farm stand. Please consider donating to this project now through becoming a member of Field to Family. We are excited to grow Farm to School in this way, continuing to work with the school district to increase the amount of fresh, local foods kids eat by supporting school gardens, organizing Farmer Fairs at school and in the community as well as procuring locally grown foods for school lunch menus.