GA!: What products and services does Home Harvest provide folks in
Jenny: Home Harvest is a unique food company that links farmers to the people of our community through farmers markets and delivery of fresh, local produce. We offer pesticide-free produce, grown within 50 miles of our main office, including some that we’ve grown in our own backyard community garden. It has always been our belief that eating locally-grown produce should be affordable and accessible to everyone.
GA!: I understand the beginning of this program was an effort to employ some folks who have been unemployed for a while…how did that come about?
Jenny: Home Harvest is a division of Career Management Group (CMG), a local non-profit organization that assists individuals with overcoming barriers to employment. In 2010, a reduction in the number of available jobs in Gaston County inspired CMG to create Home Harvest in order to generate jobs and support the local economy. Home Harvest was awarded a grant from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to begin operation. Home Harvest has been successful in creating employment opportunities through its unique service, while at the same time working with local farmers and giving back to the local economy.
GA!: The eat local, slow food movement seems to be increasingly popular…
Jenny: By choosing to purchase local foods you are also protecting your own personal health and well-being, preserving the environment, and benefiting the local economy. Industrially-produced foods are subjected to irradiation in order to extend their shelf-life. The process reduces the nutritional value of foods and has uncertain effects on human health. Local foods are typically harvested and distributed within the same week, maintaining the nutrients within the food. Factory farms emit harmful gases and particles such as methane and hydrogen sulfide, which contribute to global warming and harm the health of those living or working nearby. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides have turned agriculture into a leading source of water pollution in the United States. When purchasing produce from Home Harvest, you are supporting a local business and local farmers. In today’s market only 9 cents of every retail food dollar goes to the farmer, while 91 cents goes towards distribution. Doesn’t it make more sense to support something grown naturally, while giving back to the people who grew it and who live close by?
GA!: So you use local farmers exclusively? Define “local”?
Jenny: In the US, the average meal travels 1,500 miles before it reaches your plate. The concept of buying local is simply to buy food or any goods or services produced, grown, or raised as close to your home as possible. Our farmers are your neighbors. Home Harvest utilizes various farmers within 50 miles of our Gastonia office. One of our partners, Nature’s Way Farm, is located in Cramerton, and is owned and operated by John and Faye Simonds. John and Faye have been farming for most of their lives and take pleasure in growing produce that others enjoy. Nature’s Way is known for their heirloom vegetables and farm fresh eggs.
GA!: What products are for sale, and how do folks buy from you?
Jenny: Our produce varies depending on the season. In the Spring, our farmers will be harvesting lettuce, cabbage, carrots, green onions and strawberries to name a few. We also currently offer free-range eggs and chicken, grass-fed beef and local goat cheese and honey.
Home Harvest has several ways to bring fresh produce to you and your family. You can enroll on our website for a ten-week season that will include access to vegetables, fruits, herbs and protein that are seasonally available from farmers in our community – and we can deliver them right to your home or office! We are currently enrolling in our 2016 Spring Season. If you are not quite sure about the ten-week commitment, you can contact us to discuss scheduling a “trial-run.” In addition, we have several pop-up farmers markets that take place throughout the week beginning in the Spring – you can follow us on Facebook to see where we may be on any given day. Look for us at Home Harvest NC.
GA!: What is your vision for this program, and are there other programs like this in North Carolina?
Jenny: In keeping with our philosophy that eating locally-grown produce should be affordable and accessible to everyone, we are working towards being able to offer Home Harvest produce through the SNAP program. In doing so, we would create more job opportunities for those individuals that may be underemployed, while at the same time supporting more local farmers and ensuring that local, fresh produce is accessible to everyone. There are other businesses within North Carolina that offer produce delivery; however, often times the produce is not local or pesticide-free. Home Harvest is a way to give back directly to the community where we live!
GA! Does your parent organization (CMG) have similar or complementary programs?
Jenny: Yes! In addition to Home Harvest, CMG also has a shredding service, a recycling business and a janitorial microenterprise. We can assist you with a variety of needs.
For More Info Or To Enroll:
Call Home Harvest at 980-989-0435 or visit online at www.homeharvestnc.org