New Pilot Program Connects Faith Communities and Farmers of Color

[Pittsboro, NC, March 4, 2021] – Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA’s (RAFI-USA) Come to the Table program (CTTT) is pleased to announce a new community partnership. Organized with three local farmers of color and eight churches throughout Wake County, RAFI-USA staff has led the formation of an 80-share community-supported agriculture (CSA) partnership. This pilot, part of RAFI-USA’s Farm and Faith Partnerships Project, will run for eight weeks, with farmers beginning to plant in mid-February and deliveries scheduled for April through May. It is anticipated that the CSA will bring in $20,000 in produce sales for local farmers.

“Now is the time to invest in the work of transforming local and regional food supply chains. Through leveraging existing relationships and the trust we have built with farmers and faith communities, RAFI-USA is committed to creating that change,” explained Edna Rodriguez, Executive Director of RAFI-USA. ”The coronavirus pandemic continues to expose the flaws and inequities in our food systems. By channeling the growing demands for local food access and a more racially equitable society, this group of farmers and churches throughout Wake County are committed to advancing this important work.”

Farmers of color in the United States continue to endure systemic racism within the food system that causes significant and consistent social, economic, and political harm. Census data shows the average NC farmer runs a 168-acre farm whose market value exceeds $250,000 per year; for African American farmers, the average is 95 acres. Given the issues that farmers of color face — and RAFI-USA’s experience in working with churches, farmers markets, and farmers of color — RAFI-USA developed the Farm and Faith Partnerships Project. 

For farmers of color, creating local partnerships through community-supported agriculture means a guaranteed source of income and market for their products. “We are very grateful for this opportunity which provides us security knowing we have a direct market for our produce and we look forward to serving our local faith communities,” shared Elke and Steve McCalla, owners of Rocky Ridge Farm in Louisburg, NC. For faith communities, forming a relationship with a local farmer helps to increase access to fresh, healthy foods. “The Wake County CSA is a wonderful opportunity for our churches to meet, work with, and foster understanding between our urban churches and a group of farmers of color,” added Gary Smith, a congregant at Community United Church of Christ. “We pray that together we will bring more locally grown fresh food into our cities and build lasting relationships with our farmer partners.”

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. If your congregation is interested in building relationships with farmers in your community and purchasing fresh, healthy food, visit farmtochurch.org or contact RAFI-USA program coordinator Jarred White at [email protected] for more information.

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About the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI-USA) and  Come to the Table

RAFI-USA challenges the root causes of unjust food systems, supporting and advocating for economically, racially, and ecologically just farm communities. We envision a thriving, sustainable, and equitable food system: where farmers and farmworkers have dignity and agency; where they are supported by just agricultural policies; where corporations and institutions are accountable to their community.  RAFI-USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Pittsboro, North Carolina, and incorporated in 1990. 

Come to the Table is a program of RAFI-USA whose goal is to end hunger by developing connections and building power to create a just food system where food is a human right and those who work in the system have ownership and are treated with dignity. We believe that faith communities have a key role to play in this work.

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