Progress report for FNC20-1220
The farm has been operating since 2017, and was formally incorporated into a 501c3 nonprofit in August of 2019. The operation is currently utilizing 2,075 out of 4,875 square feet of growing space. The goal is to utilize the remaining space in our 2021 season. The farm uses organic practices, including biointensive farming and no till. The farm has always tried to be sustainable by utilizing the above mentioned practices, as well as compost, cover crops, and crop rotation. This year the farm grew the following crops: slicing tomatoes, acorn squash, zucchini, yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, swiss chard, eggplant, bell peppers, hot peppers, sweet peppers, sweet potatoes, collards, broccoli, bok choy, watermelon, onions, garlic, green beans, lettuce mix, mustard greens, radish, beets, and carrots.
The Northeast side of Indianapolis has been a food desert for over 20 years only just receiving a small grocery store in 2016. Many residents still rely on fast food establishments or take the bus to the nearest grocery store which is a 30 minute trip. While economic viability for my operation is important, I want to be as socially responsible as possible and my focus is on improving the quality of life for the community that I operate in.
To solve this problem we want to try two different direct marketing solutions: a subsidized community supported agriculture (CSA) program and a farmer’s market. We will trial 10 CSA shares with a sliding fee scale, with shares being as low as $10. We will also guide the community in planning a biweekly farmers market in order to help strengthen the local economy and capture the audience that we can’t serve with the CSA. We chose these two options because a CSA can take away the uncertainty of picking out fresh produce while a farmers market gives us the opportunity to educate a wider audience.
Survey 50 households with the community needs food security assessment.
Establish a 12 week CSA program that serves 10 families between June and October.
Host 2 nutrition/cooking workshops to educate families.
Create a toolkit for other farms/organizations to use that includes how-to’s, recipe cards, and resources for families.
We will start by conducting a survey with residents. The goal is to get a minimum of 50 households to complete the survey. This survey will measure interest in a farmer’s market or a veggie box subscription program (CSA). The survey will also ask residents what vegetables they would like to purchase if given the option. We will conduct this survey over 2 months in order to use that data to plan our season. The goal for this portion is to have conversations with residents that will allow us to develop relationships with them. The survey will be conducted in various venues: the local YMCA, neighborhood association meetings, churches, and local community centers. The survey will also be hosted online. This will allow us to have a greater reach.
While we are conducting the survey, Danielle, the farmer, will be working with neighborhood residents in recruiting youth workers to work alongside her during the season. The youth will train on Saturdays during the school year and in the summer they will increase their work to all week. By May, we will have everything in place to run the CSA. There is already a bimonthly (every other month) farmers market in place in the neighborhood so we will be exploring if that can be expanded into a monthly market. The youth will also host pop-up markets in the summer to help increase reach.
CSA members in our zip code will have option for delivery and subsidized shares while residents outside of our neighborhood will only be offered full price shares. We will plan for 10 shares each week and reach out to farmers in order to advertise the contents of shares. We will take orders up until 48 hours before pick up day/delivery day. There will also be an option for an egg share.
Due to COVID-19, our survey was completely online and that proved disastrous to our efforts. While we posted it to several neighborhood groups on Facebook and it was shared over 10 times by different community leaders, we received 0 responses. We believe because we are still an unknown entity outside of our customer base.
The promotion of our veggie box program gave us different results. People jumped at the opportunity to be in the program. By the launch date, we had 8 participants in our program, 2 full shares, 6 half shares. As of July 31, 2020, we had distributed 170 lbs. of vegetables. By mid-July, the program was serving 11 families.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Due to COVID-19, I have mainly been using social media to tell others about the work that Soul Food Project is doing. Instagram and Facebook have been used frequently to post about the program and to give the community a glimpse into the operation.