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A Healthy Start: A Conversation With The Raleigh City Farm

(Image courtesy of The Raleigh City Farm. Image depicts the Farmstand bounty)

North Carolina is the home to many food deserts. A food desert is an area where healthy, sustainable foods are not available to the majority of the population. The Raleigh City Farm provides a much-needed oasis for the Research Triangle. I had the chance to speak with Lisa B., Executive Director, to learn more about the organization.

(Image courtesy of The Raleigh City Farm. Image depicts the young volunteers dig in)

1. What was the catalyst for the Raleigh City Farm?

At the beginning of 2010, the two Co-Founders of Raleigh City Farm, Laura Fieselman and Laurel Varnado Passera, envisioned a place where “anyone can learn about farming – a productive site filled with vegetables and fruit trees that challenged the imagination of what is possible in the city.” They pulled in three additional friends, and engaged a diverse cross section of committed professionals and community members to plan for the transformation of the 1.3- acre lot at the corner of Franklin and Blount Street that officially commenced in the spring of 2012. The complete “Origin Story” can be found on our website.

(Image courtesy of The Raleigh City Farm)

2.How does Raleigh City Farm incorporate its mission and vision in its work?

The mission of RCF is to “connect and nourish our community through regenerative agriculture.” The vision is “a healthy community supporting the next generation of farmers.” Work outcomes from the current strategic plan are centered around 5 strategic goals. The board and staff continue to revisit and refine these goals based on the changing landscape and community needs.

(Image courtesy of The Raleigh City Farm)

3.What are the organization goals for this upcoming year?

1) Site Stewardship – Refine regenerative practices and projects in support of community health, education and recruitment; 2) Education & Engagement – Increase volunteer and visitor education and engagement, 3) Leadership Development – Grow the next generation of leaders to ensure sustainable growth; 4) Partnerships – Deepen collaboration and connections for long-term financial stability; and 5) Farmstand/PWYC Farmshare – Increase equitable access to healthy food.

(Image courtesy of The Raleigh City Farm)

4.How can the greater RDU help the organization succeed?

There are many ways to dig in: 1) Sign up for our Volunteer Alerts monthly emails to stay up to date with engagement opportunities; 2) Visit our Pay-What-You-Can Farmstand on Wednesdays from April – November to purchase produce and flowers; 3) Support us with a donation and/or join our “Cultivator Club” for Farmstand benefits; 4) Attend one of our fundraising events, yoga classes or workshops; 5) Follow us on social media and spread the word to your family and friends.

(Image courtesy of The Raleigh City Farm)

5.What is the future of the organization?

The future of Raleigh City Farm is in the hands and hearts of the talented and strategic board and staff team that lead it, with incredible support from our community of partners and volunteers. We’re currently working on a new 3-year plan to thoughtfully guide the nonprofit and ensure maximum delivery on our mission and vision – stay tuned!

(Video from Raleigh City Farm)


Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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