Following in the footsteps of Conway Locally Grown, beginning this spring, Arkansas Local Food Network will help fund small-scale agriculture and projects that support local food in Arkansas.
This initiative is based on the “giving circles” concept, in which individuals pool their resources to help support initiatives that benefit the community. Say a newbie farmer is in need of some tools, a local food pantry wants to put in some raised beds, or a community garden needs irrigation to grow more food. The Community Fund can help in any of these scenarios with a cash infusion.
ALFN’s Community Project 2013
We are happy to announce the recipient of our Community Project Grant for 2013: Feed Fayetteville, a Northwest Arkansas based non-profit working to create community food security on a sustainable path. Below is the description of the organization and project by the woman behind the mission herself:
Feed Fayetteville’s mission is to alleviate hunger and create community food security by cultivating a local sustainable food network. Feed Fayetteville was founded in 2010 in response to numbers released by Feeding America, which showed Arkansas first in the nation for hunger.
The goal of Feed Fayetteville is to create local community food systems models that are replicable in other communities. In 2011, we incorporated as Feed Communities with the intention to share our program models, resources, and knowledge with other communities. Our overriding goal is to get food into hungry bellies, but not just on a case-by-case basis. Our long term strategy is to create sustainable solutions to community hunger by increasing access to healthy foods through local food systems, education and community partnerships. We work to strengthen all individual organizations through combined efforts. We focus our efforts on creating food system efficiencies by preventing the duplication of similar services, supporting our program partners (those already doing great work) and then identifying potential program partners to fill in any gaps as needed.
After mapping resources in our community, it was apparent that there was an abundance of unsold produce at the farmers’ market.Through our SNAP Gardens/SNAP at the Market/Double Dollars partnership with the City, the U of A, and the Farmer’s Market, we were allowed to have a tabling presence at the downtown market on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. A local volunteer group called Seeds that Feed was interested in doing gleaning from local gardens. We brought them into our partnership with the market to create the CareCropping initiative.
CareCropping is a system of agriculture where gardeners and farmers donate a portion of the harvest to hunger relief efforts. From April through November, we collected and distributed 16,137 pounds of locally grown produce to over 20 pantries and community meals. It was an overwhelmingly successful pilot project!! Things will slow down a bit for us over the winter. We will continue gleaning at the brand new winter market at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks as well as work on partnerships with two other year-round markets, the Green Fork and Wren Thicket farmers’ markets, as we plan for the 2013 market season.
Feed Fayetteville gratefully accepts the Arkansas Local Food Network grant to help with the growth of the CareCropping initiative. We are so excited about this award and look forward to CareCropping our way to Community Food Security! Thank you very much for this award and we look forward to sharing our progress with the Arkansas Local Food Network.