HoneyBea Farm was named before we even moved here, as soon as we decided on a name for our imminent arrival and there's nothing quite like raising a child to make you want to do better. I grew up in a tobacco farming community in the Piedmont of North Carolina. This was the kind of place where people had gardens. You knew the people down the road. We had a Rural Route address. Watermelon tasted better then than it does now.
But this was also a place where two of the closest houses to ours didn't have running water and I went to school with kids who lived in rented houses with dirt floors. At the time it seemed to me that things were just like that, not like those families could use a boost. They were friends and they were neighbors and that was just how it was. I have a connection to that place and those people and the memory of everyone eating sun-warm things straight out of the garden.
Now I am a parent, a gardener, a hunger relief worker a jam-maker and an organic farmhand. My husband, daughter and I live in an old farmhouse in a lower income urban area in Winston-Salem, a wonderful town that has some notorious affiliations. This is the Camel City, home of RJ Reynolds Tobacco. It's also home to Hanes Brands, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, and has recently been cited as the #1 city in America for households with children facing food insecurity. 35% of households with children don't have enough food. I know this city and that is simply an astonishing (but sadly true) figure.
As a gardener I know growing food can mean feast or famine, but I believe with your help, a little creativity and a whole lot of hard work, I can turn our family's acre+ of urban real estate into a real contribution to our greater community. Over the past year and a half I have been chipping away at the orchards, pruning and fretting over the apple, peach and plum trees. I have planted raspberries, grapes, flowers, herbs, and a whole host of veggies. I have also tried to harvest as many wild edibles as possible, including our blackberries, dewberries, mulberries, salad greens and asparagus. This was done while being a full time mom to a newborn (now toddler) and working two part time jobs (I might be able to grow food, but I still can't grow money, or you wouldn't be reading this right now). So far I have been able to provide enough food to freeze, can, jam, butter and share the bounty with a few friends, but I have not been able to devote the resources to create the most important part of food - the community part. I would like to add more raised beds, plant more fruit, increase the vegetable yield, create permanent trellises for multi-level intercropping, add more beehives and build a chicken tractor for my hardworking flock (then I can spend less of my time in the garden chasing chickens out of it). The ultimate goal of all of this is a CSA, with a portion of the shares and any excess produce used to help feed food insecure people in the community.
This is where the community part really takes off. "Will Work for Food" is a community supported CSA. Volunteers can spend time on the farm, helping out with harvesting, seeding, washing, or other tasks. They get to learn agricultural skills while earning ShareBucks -- a fair wage translated into free shares of food for people in need. HoneyBea Farm will offer these shares alongside a variety of affordable paid shares available to subscribers (volunteers will only be expected to contribute to donated shares unless they are working to pay for their own veggies). We still have to make ends meet, so we can't give everything away, but the farm goal is to contribute the majority of what is produced, once our financial obligations are met.
But, again, this can't happen without first achieving Phase 1 - real functionality. Your support would help reinforce raised beds, add new beds including more perennial beds like asparagus and strawberries, build a chicken tractor, add more beehives (with your name painted on the side, hint hint), help with advertising and labor expenses, buy jars for jams, fruit butters and pickles, buy seeds, acquire some much needed tools, pay farmers market and certification fees, build low tunnels, buy row cover, and get some real help in bringing our fruit trees back from the brink (or planting new ones). Oh, and we're doing all of this sustainably, using gumption and elbow grease instead of chemicals.
Now, don't you want that jar of jam? And of course you'll need a tea towel to wipe that gooey goodness off your chin...
- (45 days)