Fresh Future Farm leased vacant land from the City of North Charleston in 2014. Before they planted their first tree, Germaine hoped that FFF would be much more than a place that simply grew fruit and vegetables. She envisioned a closed-loop community food operation, with a grocery store, tours, and classes that highlighted ancestral conservation and farming practices (aka permaculture) and food culture. She wanted to use discarded materials to grow the best tasting produce and eggs and invigorate economy in an urban environment. Germaine would invest in residents and give them the skills they needed to work on the farm and start businesses of their own. Chicora/Cherokee was not just a food desert, but an employment- and place-desert, too.
Four and a half years of hard work helped the Farm 1) sell or distribute 15.5 tons of quality groceries, 2) keep at least $300,000 in the community through payroll 3) and accumulate over 15 awards (video of Fresh Future Farm as 2018 John Egerton Prize recipient by Southern Foodways Alliance) for their work. Owning the land becomes more critical to ensure the farm and grocery store survive long-term and are not displaced for other uses, as has happened with other impactful community gardens and urban farms around the country. Public support allows the Farm to complete its community food site plan.
As the largest civilian employer in the state, the Old Navy Base fueled a thriving economy on North Charleston's southern end. People came from all over to visit the shops, movie theater and three (3) grocery stores - Piggly Wiggly (now the Department of Social Services offices), Doscher’s (now a plasma center) and a Winn Dixie in Shipwatch Square.
When the Navy Based closed in 1996, businesses closed and community wealth and employment came to a standstill. Winn Dixie was the last grocery store to shutter it doors in 2005, and the once bustling neighborhood of Chicora/Cherokee residents lived without consistent access to fresh, healthy food for 11 years. Out of 1,036 households, the median income is $27,500, 45% of residents live below the poverty line and 43% have no access to reliable transportation.
Who are we?
- Fresh Future Farm grows food to build strong community. We are a grassroots urban farm and grocery store that applies a multi-pronged strategy to address health, wealth, and quality of life issues in underserved communities.
Why do we care about it?
- A healthy community comprises more than just access to healthy food. Key factors include healthy public spaces, access to culturally-relevant foods, quality education and employment.
- By purchasing the land the Farm developed from a vacant, grassy lot and completing the infrastructure plan that includes an incubator kitchen and pavilion, FFF will create a 'wholeness hub' that expands programming and services through strategic partnerships that benefit underserved neighbors.
- Support for the Farm's Kickstarter campaign improves accessibility to the farm space, affordability, stability, inclusivity, safety, and equity in an underserved community, and creates a replicable model other communities can customize.
What are we raising funds to do?
- Purchase the .8 acre of property we developed
- Complete build-out and operate an incubator kitchen using a donated mobile food truck to provide healthy, ready-made value-added food options using farm produce
- Conduct even more educational activities through farm tours, classes, demonstrations. conferences and other activities that promote wellness, nutrition, art, history, farming, environmental stewardship and micro-entrepreneurship
- Build out a pavilion area at the site to rent for nonprofit fundraisers, community dinners, weddings, paid experience tours and other private events to bring in earned revenue and introduce more people to FFF's work and vision
Our $60,000 fundraising goal ensures that all of these plans happen, the purchase of the land being the biggest single expense. The land purchase and site improvements ensure the Farm's longevity and serve as a model for other marginalized communities tackling food justice issues.
Investing in the effort to purchase the land improves quality of life and community well-being for years to come!
How do we plan to make it happen?
- With $10,000 raised at a Basic Kitchen event, a $25,000 incubator kitchen construction grant from Social Venture Partners Charleston, and a donated mobile kitchen, we have a great start on bringing value added products and healthy meals to the farm store
- Fundraising will help us buy the land, complete our community food site plan and cover needed infrastructure costs
Risks and challenges
Ownership of the land provides a major asset for Fresh Future Farm. Not only does the farm avoid being displaced, but it can obtain business financing when needed (a challenge for many black farmers).
$45,000 - secure the community food operation (land purchase with plumbing and electrical upgrades)
$15,000 - year round education, recreation, restoration and relief activities (pavilion)
Extras (if we exceed our campaign goal)
$12,000 - community relief infrastructure before and after crises (ice machine, generators, extension cords, coolers, extra shed)
$15,000 - comfort and accessibility (outdoor heating and cooling systems, mobility matting)
$35,000 - solar powered community food activism (solar panels for the farm store, kitchen, pavilion and solar water pumps)
- (60 days)