Proceeds from the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s honor code farm stand off Dover Farm Road help feed the hungry.
by Addie Ladner | photography by Justin Kase Conder
Just about 10 minutes from downtown, off Dover Farm Road, is a little patch of country. There, a hundred-year-old tobacco curing barn sits amid bountiful fig trees, aging tractors and baskets of eggplant, peppers and greens. Patrons pick their favorites, weigh them, then leave their money in a box.
The honor-code farm stand, run by the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Farm, is a living example of the organization’s mission to eradicate hunger in North Carolina and equip the community with tools to grow, shop for and prepare nourishing food. The Food Shuttle does this through dozens of programs, from classes on cooking healthy food on a budget, to community gardens, to food distribution and, of course, the farm.
Last year, the 14-acre farm, leased from conservationist Adryon Clay, grew more than 60,000 pounds of produce, says Jonathan Lee, its director of agricultural programs. And it’s all thanks to the grit of their small staff of four and countless volunteers. Right now, they’re prepping for fall by seeding broccoli, cabbage, carrots and kale. Near a shaded oak grove, they’re using sun-filled hoop houses to give veggies like hybrid heirloom tomatoes and Persian cucumbers a longer growing season. “We try to have things to sell year-round at the farm stand,” says farm production manager Kayla Clark. Practices like crop rotation and using cover crops keep the farm chemical-free.
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What they plant is a direct response to the Food Shuttle’s needs. “Whatever we can grow to support the Food Shuttle’s programs, that is our goal,” says Lee. Clark says they stay in touch with the Food Shuttle to see what the community needs and likes. “From mobile markets to Grocery Bags for Seniors, whatever we can help with, we will,” Clark says.
Pre-pandemic, corporate groups would volunteer several times a week. But being mindful of COVID, they have decreased the number of people allowed on the farm. “We have what we call ‘core volunteers’ who come one to three days each week and are just as valuable as staff,” says Clark. “We really come to rely on them.” The fact that the proceeds from the farm stand go back into the Food Shuttle makes it a win-win.
Lee says the farm and farm stand get people plugged into the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle that might not be otherwise. “They might see the farm stand driving down Tryon, pull in to buy a basket of produce, then leave wanting to volunteer and donate,” he says. Shop the farm’s bounty weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.—and consider leaving a little extra in the box, knowing it’s supporting the fight against hunger right here in North Carolina.