At Come to the Table, our Farm and Faith Partnerships Project (FFPP) works to connect faith communities with farmers of color to create mutually beneficial, sustainable, and practical relationships. In the fall of 2022, Come to the Table helped facilitate the creation of one of these relationships in the Sandhills region of North Carolina, between the Sandhills AGInnovation Center (SAIC) and Pinehurst United Methodist Church.
Led by farmer Davon Goodwin, the Sandhills AGInnovation Center is a project in the south central Sandhills region that supports farmers and expands the local farm economy through trainings, shared-use farm equipment, and connections to new markets. SAIC was already aggregating produce from its network of farmers and distributing produce boxes across the Sandhills to alleviate food insecurity, and Pinehurst UMC jumped at the opportunity to partner by creating a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project.
Pinehurst UMC members bought roughly 25 shares of produce for the fall season and received weekly deliveries of fresh produce on Wednesdays.
Cathy Wibbens, Ministry Associate at Pinehurst UMC, has been instrumental in the development and maintenance of the CSA. Cathy’s investment in the project stems from her commitment to support local farmers and, of course, her love of fresh veggies.
“[You can] expand your world by learning about local produce and how you can support sustainability by keeping it local and eating what is in season in your area,” Cathy said.
One of the perks of a CSA is the diversity and surprise participants find in each box.
“I look forward to seeing what’s in the box each week,” Cathy said. “Last week I made a sweet potato, white bean, and kale soup that even had Granny Smith apples in it. I felt like I was on an episode of Chopped on Food Network!”
Sometimes the CSA shares have more food than what members are prepared for, but the Pinehurst UMC shareholders find ways to work with this abundance by sharing leftover produce, distributing recipes that use multiple vegetables, and teaching each other how to preserve leftovers through pickling and canning.
Craig and Teresa Wallace are two Pinehurst UMC members who are also shareholders in the CSA. Their favorite part has been the quality of the produce, which they regarded as “excellent, fresher than any grocery store.”
The Wallaces also enjoy experimenting with several new recipes, including Cabbage Loaf, a new cole slaw, pepper poppers, and a Vivian Howard recipe for “Chicken and Grapes.”
“We want to commend and thank the farmers and providers for an excellent quality and delicious product,” the Wallaces said. “This is a great opportunity to help local farmers and farm-to-table produce.”
The Pinehurst UMC – SAIC CSA hopes to continue into the spring and summer seasons and is looking to expand their shareholders and find ways to donate shares to local food ministries.
The Farm and Faith Partnerships Project team is looking to take these projects into other Tier 1 North Carolina counties. If this project piques your interest, please reach out to Jarred White ([email protected]) to learn more and receive additional resources!