Local farms and community organizations celebrate connecting healthy food to families in need

Nashville, TN – A coalition of community leaders, farmers, non-profit organizations, university workers, and state and local officials called the “Community Food Hive” have executed a pilot program, “Share-A-Share,” connecting local and sustainable farming with a food insecure neighborhood in Nashville.

Share-A-Share (SaS) aims to provide food insecure families in Nashville access to fresh, locally grown produce and increase the production and consumption of local, sustainably grown food. Four local farms and their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members provided the funding for SaS. Bells Bend Farms, Delvin Farms, Green Door Gourmet Farm, and Long Hungry Creek Farm raised over $8,000, which provided 28 households in the Bordeaux neighborhood of North Nashville with a box of fresh fruits and vegetables each week for 10 weeks this summer.

The Community Food Hive’s SaS program grew out of a food security assessment done by a Vanderbilt graduate student in the summer of 2013 which revealed the top two areas of need in Bordeaux: lack of nutrition education and lack of healthy produce. Part of the SaS program is focused on providing cooking and nutrition information to recipients to make sure the food is utilized to the fullest. The Community Food Hive plans to build upon the successes and challenges of SaS to offer this and other programs forthcoming connecting local food with food insecure neighborhoods throughout Nashville.

Comments from the recipients include the following: “The food is great and they love the taste. When they have gotten something they were not familiar with they looked it up on the computer or in the cook book. The potatoes they got from Delvin Farms had a sweet taste and they went well with the green beans. Squash is great and they are still learning how to cook the beets or can the beets. They love the tomatoes…,” says Shelia Smith, Food Pantry Coordinator at Cathedral of Praise Church in Bordeaux. “Today Delvin [Farms] gave them a bonus: their boxes had a cantaloupe in it! They flipped over that.”

To celebrate the culmination of Share-a-Share, the Community Food Hive will host an event open to the community on Saturday, August 23rd from 1 to 3 pm at the Northwest YMCA, 3700 Ashland City Highway, Nashville, TN 37218. Come celebrate with the Community Food Hive, Share-a-Share recipients, participating farms and CSA customers, local political officials, and the media. The Nashville Food Project will be providing an entrée, and attendees are welcome to contribute a prepared dish. Please RSVP by Monday August 18th to communityhive@gmail.com.

In basic terms, CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Typically, members or “share-holders” of the farm pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer’s salary.

In return, they receive shares in the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production. Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests.

By direct sales to community members, who have provided the farmer with working capital in advance, growers receive better prices for their crops, gain some financial security, and are relieved of much of the burden of marketing (definition from the USDA National Agricultural Library).