In designing the food systems there one of two goals we try to accomplish. Either a volunteer core group from the community, or other entity such as a church or non-profit owns the project and manages it after a start up period or we help to establish a businesses to generate income to support someone to operate the project. In low-income communities establishing small businesses to help support community food systems helps to sustain the growth of the projects while offering entrepreneurial jobs. For example, income from selling transplants, market stands buying and reselling produce from local farmers, or small neighborhood CSAs can provide income to establish part-time jobs for youth, families, or community non-profits. These micro businesses can sustain community food systems establishing a more effective SROI (Social Return on Investment) from investment from non-profits. Our projects have evolved over years of hands on work within the communities where OCFP works. OCFP has been working on sustainable system models that could be replicated in other communities. if interested in learning more about these projects and if they might work in your community please contact Ann at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harmony Community Garden and Greenhouse
At Harmony Community Garden OCFP helped establish a greenhouse selling transplants to the people in the community, other community gardens, and small farmers. Our goal is to make enough profit to hire someone from the garden to run the greenhouse and manage the community garden. This project is in collaboration with Century Community College Horticulture Department, Independent School District 622, Harmony Learning Center, and OCFP.
Cimarron Youth Garden and CSA
OCFPs entry into Cimarron was through our partner Family Means who operates an after school program for children and teens from ages 5 -18. When we started we decide we would work with the children and teens to build garden boxes, and grow food in the boxes. We also decided to pay everyone a $1 an hour for their labor in establishing the garden. We had 24 youth in the program the first year from ages 5 -17 and grew about 450 pounds of produce that the gardeners all took home. We learned from the young adults making $1 an hour was not much money so with the help of we began hiring youth through the Workforce program in Washington County. Through the Workforce program the youth were paid a minimum wage to work in the garden. Now in our 6th year we are hiring 3-4 youth garden workers ages 18 -24, and one marketing person to work with us. In addition we are hiring two seniors (55 or older) through the Workforce Senior program.
To add a revenue stream we established a small CSA with 15 members. This revenue provides enough money to support the garden including seeds, transplants, garden tools etc. to operate the CSA. In 2016 we will be accepting EBT/SNAP for shares in the CSA. Our next goal will be to hire someone from the community to be the farmer and grow the CSA. We are hoping one of our teens will move into this position.
Continuing in 2016 – Cimarron Market is a market stand operated by Anna Dooley a Minnesota Food (MFA) Association Farmer in Training and Susan Jackson a resident in Cimarron who has been working in the Cimarron garden with OCFP for the last couple of years. Susan first started as a community garden member and continues to work on a day to day basis with the operations of the garden. This year we will be working to help an MFA farmer in training learn about selling at a market. The market stand is next to the garden, providing yet another touch point for the Cimarron community as well as the greater community access to local produce. We are currently accept EBT/SNAP. The market will be open to the general public.
Fresh Green Buck$
As part of her involvement with the Land Stewardship Program, Ann partnered with Washington County, Minnesota and began Fresh Green Buck$ in an effort to provide more fresh produce in local area food shelves. This program allows grocery store patrons to purchase coupons (Fresh Green Buck$) that serve as a donation to local area food shelves. The food shelves can then use the Fresh Green Buck$ to purchase fresh produce to offer at their location. Ann began this program in 2011, and it is now continuing through Washington County, MN. To learn more, visit Fresh Green Buck$.
Our Community Kitchen
The doors of Our Community Kitchen opened in 2011 from a desire to create community and social responsibility through food. Our Community Kitchen is a donation based breakfast program for all those in the community. The food is prepared fresh by community volunteers using locally produced ingredients. Breakfast is offered at a certified kitchen at the Ascension Church in Stillwater, Minnesota. The program is sustained by a team of dedicated volunteers and amazing partners in the St. Croix Valley. To learn more, visit Our Community Kitchen.
Prior to Our Community Food Projects, Ann founded ecoEnvelopes, LLC as a Social Enterprise company to support reducing paper waste in the mail.