Volunteers with Sow Much Good say their newly-constructed micro farm on land leased by Martin Marietta will help improve the health of families who don’t have access to the fresh vegetables available in affluent neighborhoods of Charlotte.
The Charlotte-based non-profit grows and sells chemical-free vegetables to residents living in urban neighborhoods — at five to fifteen percent below typical grocery store price.
Robin Emmons, the 45-year old founder of SMG unveiled its new Sunset Road location on August 10.
“As you probably know, there has been a vibrant local food movement growing for some time now. But sadly it has not reached communities that have the greatest need. So we plan to bridge the gap.”
The Boston native, who has lived in Charlotte for 20 years, observed that more fast food restaurants and gas stations (12) serving mostly junk food exist within a mile of the micro farm than there are grocery stores (2) that sell fresh produce. She said building the 4-acre garden and produce stand next to Sunset Road made sense.
Emmons founded SMG in 2008 after she became aware of how difficult it was finding fresh vegetables in the food pantries that were helping her homeless and mentally-ill brother.
Her group had already built 2 micro farms since 2008. The first one in her own backyard in nearby Huntersville, the second a larger 4-acre site also in Huntersville.
Martin Marietta’s involvement helped bring about this 3rd micro farm. Brandon Lindsey, 37, a Martin Marietta sales manager and SMG board member, approached company officials about the idea of leasing the land at the corner of Sunset and Peachtree Roads, which is located behind Martin Marietta’s rock quarry on Beatties Ford Road.
They agreed and a deal was reached late last year.
“So much of SMG’s core values mirror Martin Marietta’s core values and we want to give back to the communities in which we work,” said Lindsey who called it a win-win for everyone.
After turning soil earlier this year they’ve been actively harvesting their first crops. Last Saturday, neighbors drove or walked to the micro farm’s produce stand, open two days every week, where corn, tomatoes, onions and other vegetables and fruits were on colorful display ready for purchase. A CNN film crew videotaped the opening of the micro farm for possible inclusion in an upcoming segment of “CNN Heroes,” for which Emmons has been nominated.
In between interviews with reporters/producers, and while observing the flurry of people inspecting and buying produce, Emmons said, “A lot of these people” who need access to fresh vegetables “look like me.” “I want to do something” to help them live better lives.
Learn more about SMG at www.sowmuchgood.org