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RAFI-USA Debuts Forsyth County CSA

Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA’s (RAFI-USA) Come to the Table program (CTTT) is pleased to announce a new community partnership. Organized with Christina Benton of Janco Community Farms, Parkway United Church of Christ, SHARE Harvest, and the Wake Forest University community, RAFI-USA staff has led the formation of a community-supported agriculture (CSA) partnership in Forsyth County with more than 40 participants. As part of RAFI-USA’s Farm and Faith Partnerships Project (FFPP), the Forsyth County CSA will run for six weeks through the beginning of December. A CSA is a farming model where the consumer purchases a share of a farmer’s production up-front, guaranteeing a farmer income and allowing them to plan their crop production in a way that limits waste and expense. 

This partnership is anchored by Christina Benton and Janco Community Farms. Based in Statesville, NC, Janco Community Farms is an urban farm whose primary goal is to assist in closing food inequality gaps, to eradicate food deserts in urban areas, to invest in disinvested communities, and to share knowledge with the community on food growing and sustainability practices. “For Janco Community Farms, this CSA means growth and new opportunities,” said Christina Benton. “We are excited to be partnering with organizations such as RAFI and other community organizations, as we continue our mission to provide wholesome, nutritious food to the community.”

“At RAFI-USA, our programs challenge the root causes of unjust food systems and work to build one that is more resilient,” said Edna Rodriguez, Executive Director of RAFI-USA. “Our work in helping to connect farmers of color, faith communities, and consumers through the Farm and Faith Partnerships Project provides a framework and a network for fueling mutually beneficial relationships. Following the success of the Wake County CSA, we are proud to launch the Forsyth County CSA.”

“Equity moves at the speed of deepened relationships,” said participating CSA member and pastor of Parkway UCC Craig Schaub. “Our people at Parkway UCC are excited about our relationship with Janco Farms and others in the Forsyth Fall CSA, and about connecting to local Black farmers. We are increasingly aware of the history of policy and economic forces tilted against farmers of color and want to make a dent in that tragic legacy through our relationships which RAFI-USA has facilitated.”

The Forsyth County CSA is the second CSA project that FFPP created. The first, in Wake County, recently launched its third season and has grown to include 11 churches, four farms, and 120 shares of produce. 

For faith communities, the CSA model creates a local food system that is less transactional and is mutually beneficial and sustainable while providing a tangible way to make a difference for local farmers of color. For farmers, the model helps create long-term relationships with the potential to make a significant economic impact, build capacity, and grow their businesses. 

RAFI-USA is looking to create more of these partnerships across North Carolina and would love to hear from you if your congregation is interested in building relationships with farmers in your community and purchasing fresh, healthy food. These partnerships can take different forms, such as a group of churches coming together to form a food box purchasing group or a church hosting a farmers market in their parking lot. For more information, contact FFPP Project Manager Jarred White at [email protected]