IDEAS INTO ACTION

IDEAS INTO ACTION

Ideas Into Action: Environmental Justice

by Jessica Boylston-Fagonde

DESCRIPTION

While preparing for our last meeting, Omar Muhammad’s name came up several times as a groundbreaking leader working to improve our community. He’s the President, and soon to be Executive Director, of Lowcountry Alliance of Model Communities, located in North Charleston.

After speaking to him recently, I knew he needed to be our next guest presenter — because his work takes Asset Based Community Development to the next level, which he defines as “Environmental Justice.”

In a nutshell, Environmental Justice addresses environmental and public health concerns within a community — issues affecting everyday quality of life (like access to fresh, healthy food)– while recognizing the value of community members’ voices in creating solutions to these complex issues.

Then Germaine Jenkins, our second speaker, will share her work – which is an amazing example of Environmental Justice in action . . .
Germaine is the founder and executive director of Fresh Future Farm in North Charleston, and her work epitomizes Omar’s approach to community development. Since 2014, Germaine has worked to create a farm in the heart of a ‘food desert’ — an impoverished community that previously had little or no access to affordable, nutritious food.

Her mission there is to leverage food justice — a community’s right to grow and sell affordable, healthy food that’s grown locally with care for the well-being of the land, workers, and animals. Her work addresses food, health, economic, and environmental disparities in the southern portion of North Charleston.

I’m excited to have these two share their stories, knowledge, and mission — and to hear about the important work they’re doing in our community.

Gather for Good: We’ll be collecting supplies and donations for Fresh Future Farm. Here’s a list of supplies that are useful to keep their farm equipped and running. Cash/check donations are always helpful too!
• Children and adult garden gloves
• Towels
• Pruners
• Hand tillers

DATE & TIME

Tuesday, June 6, 2017
9:30 AM – 11:00 AM EDT

LOCATION

Center for Jewish LIfe
477 Mathis Ferry Road
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

The Road to Urban Farmraising

The Road to Urban Farmraising

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Someone asked me at Mike Martin and Gena Januseski’s Purposeful Entrepreneurship event last Monday how I got started with Fresh Future Farm. When I think back on it, this whole concept of creating a place-based and equitable community farm sprang out of my small family’s need for quality food and relationships almost 15 years ago.

We built good relationships through getting connected to a local church (and an AMAZING single mom’s small group) and after I enrolled my kids into the Cannon Street YMCA. At the time I was a returning adult student and single mom finishing my college career at Johnson & Wales University. I went from working full-time to being unemployed and on food stamps in a matter of weeks, I promised my kids then that when we moved out of public housing we were gonna have our own house and that house would have a garden. The next 12 or so years are a blur:

1) Leading a Plant-A-Row for the Hungry group that helped me glean fresh veggies for the Y (after graduating with honors and taking a job as Kid’s Cafe Cook)
2) Volunteering with my dear friend Karen at the Children’s Garden Project
3) Taking on the job of Nutrition Coordinator at the Lowcountry Food Bank AND getting married
4) Earning Master Gardener certification from Clemson Extension
4) Purchasing our first home and joining Metanoia as a board member and school garden volunteer
5) Diving headfirst into Neighborworks America training with classes like Affordable Place-making, Taking Green Action in your Community, Creating Public Markets and Community Economic Development
6) Working with Metanoia to start Chicora Place Community Garden
7) Learning the ABCs of effective farming as a part of SC Community Loan Fund’s Feeding Innovation competition
8) Teaching about and then meeting my urban ag idol, (aka the Godfather of Soil) Will Allen and earning my certification in Commercial Urban Agriculture with Growing Power
9) Receiving a 5 year lease and business zoning from the City of North Charleston on what is now Fresh Future Farm

This body of experience has taught us that grassroots community development is the only sustainable way to grow good food and healthy, happy customers. Normally a dollar that is spent in the inner city only hangs around for a few minutes before heading out with shop owners and employees to benefit other well-to-do communities. Our project strives to grow food where its needed most and keep the dollars in the community through providing additional services (cooking demonstrations, farm tours, etc.) AND training residents to work with us. A month ago we capped off a year of transforming a vacant lot into a bonafide inner-city farm to actually accepting SNAP benefits for the food we are growing. Moving from point A to point B took a LOT of hands from folks like Nick Tittle, Charleston Permaculture Guild, East Cooper Montessori School, College of Charleston interns, Day of Caring Volunteers, and so many more individuals and groups. The farm has also benefited from financial support from many individuals and organizations – THANKS TO ALL WHO HAVE SUPPORTED US.

Before I scour my closet for the one pair of non-running shoes I own to attend tonight’s Giving Back Awards, I wanted to invite friends both new and old to consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our work over the next few months. We’re running an end of the year Farmraising Campaign with hopes of supporting the following items:

*A glass door commercial refrigerator (to match our commercial freezer) – $3000
*First month of farm grocery store inventory – $2500
*Utility Costs – $400/month
*ADA accessible ramp to our parking lot – $1500
*Miscellaneous administrative costs (resident intern stipends, etc.) – $1000

The beauty of a donation to Fresh Future Farm is that your contribution will extend well beyond Chicora-Cherokee’s borders. One of the additional services will include sharing what we’ve learned over the years with other struggling Lowcountry communities.

Happy Holidays to all and thanks for taking the time to check us out!

Sincerely,

Germaine Jenkins
CEO, Farm & Market Director
Fresh Future Farm Inc.

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Charleston Mag Community Catalyst Launches Fall Farmraising Campaign!

Charleston Mag Community Catalyst Launches Fall Farmraising Campaign!

Charleston Mag Awards

2015 Charleston Magazine Giving Back Awards

Thanks to a surprise nomination, Germaine Jenkins has been chosen as the 2015 Community Catalyst for Charleston Magazine’s Giving Back Awards! The recognition stems from the work that she and her team have done to transform a vacant city lot in a food desert into an operating farm. Recently, they have opened the Macon Market Farm Stand to the public and accept SNAP (food stamp) benefits, cash and credit purchases on Tuesday afternoons from 3 – 6 pm. Fresh Future Farm is even partnering with the Chicora-Cherokee Neighborhood Association to offer $10 Fresh Future Buck credits to residents who volunteer for two hours in the community.

G Jenkins farm stand van

Germaine is cultivating community with a fresh food farm stand in the Chicora-Cherokee neighborhood.

Right now customers can only buy fruit, vegetable and herbs once a week. We are in our final push to finish renovations on the building to expand our offerings to include dry and canned goods, frozen vegetables, bread, dairy, cereal and eggs at least five days a week.

We are launching a fall fundraising campaign to take Fresh Future Farm to the next level.

Will you help us meet our $9000 goal and help our very own ‘Veggie Whisperer’ move customers out of the elements and into the store by the New Year?

DonateNow
Thanks for supporting our Fall Farmraiser!