Growing Power

Pavement: Planted!

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle has officially kicked off our “Plant The Pavement!” workshop series, with both youth and community events running November 8 and 9th at Longview School and our new Hoke Street Training Center in Raleigh Nov. 10-11th. Along with Longview School, we are a Regional Outreach Training Center (ROTC) for Growing Power. As an ROTC, we a host series of urban agriculture workshops for youth, established farmers, and community members, bringing Growing Power’s innovative model of food production and community empowerment to North Carolina.

On Thursday and Friday at Longview School, students from schools across the region came to learn about intensive agriculture techniques in a very hands-on way from experts including Will Allen, the Growing Power staff, and Inter-Faith Food Shuttle staff members.

Participants learned about aquaponics systems to grow vegetables and fish simultaneously, how to build a hoop house for season extension growing year-round, how to grow high-profit micro-greens, and how to compost. They also had some powerful and insightful discussions in break-out sessions on food justice.

Check out this inspiring photo project from the workshop days at Longview, created by Tes Thraves, Youth and Community-Based Food Systems Coordinator of the NC Center for Environmental Farming Systems:

At Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s new Hoke Street Training Center, community members came from all over for a two-day workshop on these topics. Participants asked questions, dug into the material and the soil, met other people as passionate as they (and we) are about creating a better food system, and walked away with greater knowledge and more skills to change it!

Thanks to all who came to support and participate in our first Plant the Pavement workshops! Look for more to come!

Activate Raleigh and Urban Ag Training at IFFS

Last week in honor of 9/11, we were thrilled to have volunteers all across the Triangle help Inter-Faith Food Shuttle pack bags for BackPack Buddies, work on our Wake County Teaching Farm, and prep our new Urban Agriculture Training Center! Volunteers signed up as part of Activate Good's Activate Raleigh Day of Service. Check out the photos from the work day at our Urban Ag Training Center - volunteers scraped paint off the windows (the building used to be an old skating rink), took up old carpet, washed walls to prep for painting, swept and mopped the floors, primed and painted walls, and helped with some maintenance outside. What amazing transformation can happen with the power of volunteers!

Wondering what will take place in our new Urban Ag Training Center? For one thing, Urban Ag training workshops! First up, we have both community and youth urban ag workshops!

We are proud to announce our first annual Plant the Pavement! Workshop Series, a collaborative effort to bring Growing Power's innovative model of food production and community empowerment to North Carolina.

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is the only Growing Power Regional Outreach Training Center  in North Carolina, and the only one in the country with a focus on training young people.

Youth Workshops  for school groups Nov. 8-9, 2012

Community Workshop Nov. 10 & 11, 2012

Details on the workshops here:

Online registration, workshop schedule and session details are available at:

New Fall Farms and Gardens Internships

IFFS is very excited to share our NFG Internship program to assist in the work of the Nutrition, Farms and Gardens Programs!  These internships are a valuable training experience for participants, an ideal way to get involved in your local community and work on growing a sustainable and accessible local food system. We hope the experience will be valuable to participants in providing them with skills as well as a broader understanding of issues related to food insecurity in our community.

Email the contact person listed below if you would like  a Volunteer Internship Application.

Available Internships

Wake Community Gardens (2 positions) Contact

  • Seeking two graduate level interns to assist in the management of two Wake County Community Gardens by helping engage community and youth, plan educational activities, lead small research projects and attend to garden needs. Interns will also assist with Urban Ag projects focused on increasing food access, creating jobs for urban youth and food justice advocacy.
    • Required: experience working with youth/community; knowledge of gardening; enthusiasm and dependability.
    • Desired: Spanish-speaking. Minimum commitment of 20 hours per week for at least 12 weeks. Great opportunity for hands on experience, training and mentorship from nutrition, farm and garden experts.

Raleigh Urban Ag Program (3 positions) Contact

  • Seeking three Urban Ag Interns that share passion for youth, soil and food. The interns will help direct community food justice awareness programs.  The base of these programs is healthy community food access.  The interns would help with urban soil creation and production: composting as a community is paramount. The interns will assist with creating soil in an urban environment from both a production and a policy viewpoint. The interns will help with research and advocacy based around urban, young adult job creation.

Teaching Farms (3 positions) Contact:

  • Work with our Farm Manager to specialize in an area of operation, including livestock, vermi-composting, pest control, greenhouse production, and vegetable production at IFFS Teaching Farm in Raleigh.  This is a hands-on working position with project deliverables, such as instruction manuals, signage, and standard operating procedures.

Durham Community Garden (2 positions) Contact

  • Work with our youth garden employees to develop opportunities for selling produce they grow in the garden. Fall garden hours are Monday evenings and Saturday mornings so availability one or both days is needed. Internship will involve marketing, developing procedures and  customer  relations as well as mentoring teens.

Regional Farmer Training Programs (3 positions) Contact:

  • Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is the newest Regional Outreach Training Center for Will Allen’s internationally recognized community food organization Growing Power.  We are seeking an intern to help put together our first annual “Plant the Pavement!” workshop series, a set of intensive hands-on urban ag workshops co-taught by Growing Power and IFFS Staff.
    • Required:  A demonstrated interest in community development, sustainable agriculture, or social justice. Full day availability November 8-11.
    • Desired: Bilingual (Spanish), experience with curriculum development, graphic design skills.
  • The Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training, United Piedmont (CRAFT-UP) is a coalition of new and established farmers dedicated to creating a more just and sustainable food system in Central NC through farmer-to-farmer trainings, social events, and community resource development. We are seeking two interns to assist with outreach to regional farmers, event planning, and developing a comprehensive public database of available farm land in the region.
    • Required:  Outgoing personality, comfortable speaking in public and developing new relationships, excellent writing skills, and access to transportation to rural areas.
    • Desired: basic knowledge of market farming, Bilingual (Spanish), experience with community resource mapping, web development skills.

Program descriptions, Internship Logistics, and more information available here:

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and Longview School as a Growing Power ROTC: Training Young Farmers and Food Activists

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and Longview School are proud to partner to become the newest Regional Outreach Training Center (ROTC) for Growing Power. Growing Power is an internationally recognized urban agriculture organization started by MacArthur Genius Award winner Will Allen. We are the only ROTC in the country with a focus on training young people. IFFS’ USDA-sponsored Young Farmer Training Program and Urban Agriculture program carry this focus year-round as we employ and train high school-aged youth and young adults to become North Carolina’s next generation of farmers and food activists. Longview  School’s Ag Careers class and Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter, headed up by Mr. Patrick Faulkner, expose at-risk youths to career opportunities in agriculture and related disciplines. Will Allen has said that “what used to be a good food movement is now a revolution” – Together with Growing Power we are bringing a healthier, more socially just, ecologically sound, and prosperous food future to North Carolina and urban areas throughout the Southeast.

IFFS staff attend Growing Power Commercial Urban Agriculture Training

Thanks to funding from the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, Sun Butler, our Farm Educator and Neal Wisenbaker, our Farm Manager, recently graduated from Growing Power’s Commercial Urban Agriculture (CUA) Training Program. The program is comprised of a series of five weekend seminars running January through May at Growing Power’s training facilities in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The seminars cover topics around planning (such as city regulations, zoning and licensing),  marketing, business plan development, and finding and securing land space. The program also provides hands-on learning experiences in composting, worm farming, aquaponics,  fish farming, soil testing, horticulture, farming  without chemicals, aquaculture, bee-keeping, small farm equipment and tools, food processing, water usage, and  renewable energy, as well as trainings on labor issues and hunger as a social justice issue.


Plant the Pavement! Workshops & Training

As an ROTC, IFFS and Longview will be hosting annual “Plant the Pavement!” workshops starting in fall 2012. These intensive, hands-on training opportunities will offer diverse groups the opportunity to learn, plan, develop, operate, and sustain community food projects. Look for our first round of workshops coming up in November!

  • Plant the Pavement! for Triangle Youth: November 8 and 9 at Longview High School in Raleigh. Regional youth interested in agriculture, sustainability, and social justice will have the opportunity to attend a full-day urban ag workshop led by experts from Growing Power, IFFS, and Wake County Public Schools. Topics will include hoop house season extension, vermicomposting, aquaponics, and the basics of sustainable urban food production. Will Allen himself will also be there to discuss how these types of enterprises can empower youth to help their families and communities eat healthier while generating income and jobs. The youth workshop will be offered on both November 8 and 9, and participants can choose which day to attend.
  • Plant the Pavement! Community Workshop: November 10 and 11 at the IFFS Wake County Teaching Farm on Tryon Rd. This two-day workshop with Will Allen is open to anyone who is interested in learning more about the sustainable production of healthy food, whether on a home, business, or community scale. Modeled after Growing Power’s “From the Ground Up” workshops, community members who attend this weekend workshop can expect to dive head-first into the nuts and bolts of intensive, sustainable food production for home, community, or market. Skills learned will be applicable in both urban and rural settings, and topics will include composting, hoop house production, vermiculture, aquaponics, mushrooms, micro-greens, project planning, and more!

To learn more about Growing Power’s Commercial Urban Agriculture series, visit their website at

The Fish Have Arrived! Completing the Aquaponics Cycle

Fish have arrived at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Farm in Raleigh!   Foster Lake & Pond Management generously donated 20 channel catfish this past Wednesday. What are fish doing on the farm, you ask? They're completing our Aquaponics project! Over the past few months we have built a 300 gallon Aquaponics system. 

What is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a symbiotic method of cultivating both fish and plants in a re-circulating system that utilizes fish waste as fertilizer for plants.  In turn, the plants and the associated root microbes detoxify and clarify the water for the fish. It's a closed-loop cycle! The model we’re using is inspired by MacArthur Genius Award winner Will Allen’s internationally recognized urban agriculture organization Growing Power.

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle's aquaponics intern Doug Purvis explains:

How does Aquaponics work?

Water containing ammonia from fish waste is pumped from the fish tank up to the gravel grow beds, where we are currently growing cucumbers, tomatoes, watercress, pea shoots, and basil. There, beneficial bacteria turn the otherwise toxic ammonia in fish waste into nitrite and then into nitrate, which is an essential nutrient for plant growth.   Gravity takes over from there, as the filtered water then drains through the top grow bed down to the lower grow bed. After nourishing and hydrating the plants, the water then flows from the lower grow beds back into the fish tank to start the cycle all over again.

Why Aquaponics?

  • Produces fresh, local, organic, and nutritious vegetables and fish in a small space;
  • provides a working model for workshops, training, and education on more sustainable food production;
  • easily scalable from apartment-size to commercial-size, meaning that it is an easily replicable system;
  • conserves water;
  • IFFS is a Regional Outreach Training Center (ROTC)  Growing Power. We partner with youth, established farmers, and community members to teach intensive commercial urban agriculture skills – including Aquaponics and vermicomposting.

Putting the fish pond in back in November

Aquaponics intern Doug adjusting the plants on our Aquaponics system in the greenhouse

Aquaponics Fish Arrival 007

At long last, the wait is over - the fish have arrived!

After sitting in the bag, acclimating to the water temperature in our fish tank for about ten minutes, we released them into their new home! Hooray!

Steven reflects on Will Allen's visit

I know that Thanksgiving comes after Easter in the calender year, but I did not realize that it comes this early. The past month has brought me an overwhelming amount of support to be thankful for. It all started at Longview School where I did a seed tray demonstration for Mr. Patrick Faulkner's horticulture class. A week or so later our Farm Manager, Sun Butler, said to me that Mr. Faulkner was going to have a visit from Will Allen of Growing Power and that he may need some help setting up the event. To this I exclaimed "No way!" and Sun gave me a hearty "Way."
So it began, the scramble to acquire materials in three weeks time. Some materials we already had, such as wooden pallets from Bland Landscaping and coffee chaff from Larry's Beans. Other materials I had to get for either very cheap, or free; and anyone that knows me knows that I usually opt for free.
Just prior to becoming full-time staff at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle I had helped get a greenhouse up at Spence's Farm in Chapel Hill. I knew that the farm had composted horse manure (worms love it!) and possibly some hay that I could use. After coaxing my better half into an inquiry with her program director I was given the go ahead on everything I needed. YES! Things were falling into place.
I knew the possibility existed that Mr. Allen would be visiting our newest community garden at Alliance Medical Ministries. Once again we relied on our friends at Bland Landscaping to come till up a few rows and provide us with some compost and fruit trees. Luckily I had some help from the Wake County BGC Teen Center to get some compost spread in the garden. We had received a few flats of plants for the garden from Campbell Road Nursery which is just a stones throw away from the IFFS Farm. If you're ever at the farm you should not throw stones at them, but pay them a visit. Several familiar faces from the IFFS volunteer roster came on Saturday morning to help prep beds and plant the garden, but we also had some new faces from the Raleigh Community Gardens and Triangle Area Homesteaders Meetup groups. These two groups have been helping us canvass and raise community awareness about our garden in the area around Alliance Medical Ministries.

What I did not know was the possibility that Mr. Allen would be paying a visit to the farm and needless to say things were a bit hectic at the farm. Thank goodness for Caroline MacNair! She had her farm manager, Johnny Hassell, and his staff lend us a hand the morning that Mr. Allen would be arriving at the farm for a steak dinner. It's amazing what can be done by a focused group in a few hours time. The farm looked wonderful.

I'd like to thank the Raleigh branch of the USDA's Risk Management Agency. RMA's Ron Brown helped escort Mr. Allen around town. I also have to thank all of the Food Shuttle staff that helped pull this together, especially Chef Terri, who stayed up past her bedtime to prepare and serve delicious food at the event. I may have left some people out, but my point is that it takes a lot of partners to make an event a success. I look forward to developing stronger relationships with the aforementioned groups and hope to create new relationships with our next exciting event! Now its time for my nap.

Pictures from Day 1 with Will Allen

As we've been talking about recently, urban farmer Will Allen (CEO and Founder of Growing Power, Inc.) came to town yesterday to teach workshops to students at Longview High School and will help kick-off Inter-Faith Food Shuttle's Community Garden at Alliance Medical Ministry! Yesterday afternoon, Will Allen flew in to Raleigh and headed to Longview High School where he did a slide show presentation about Growing Power and a quick demo outside about vermicomposting. He even commended Steven Horton (our Farm Assistant) on what a great job he's doing with the worm bins! Afterwards, Will Allen joined some Food Shuttle staff, volunteers and supporters for a nice quiet dinner on the IFFS Farm.

Take a look at some of pictures from yesterday at Longview and the dinner at the Food Shuttle Farm.




More to come tomorrow on Will Allen's visit and the community garden reception tonight! If you'd like to meet Will Allen and celebrate with us as we kick-off the new community garden, open seats are still available! RSVP to or call 919-250-0043.

Will Allen - back in Raleigh Monday and Tuesday!

You might remember back in November when Will Allen gave a lecture at the CEFS event on sustainable agriculture at the McKimmon Center. Well, now Will Allen, founder and CEO of Growing Power, Inc., is coming back to Raleigh on April 5 and 6 to hold urban farming workshops for students at Longview High School, and kick off Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Community Garden at Alliance Medical Ministry! Here's a video about Will Allen and his work with youth and communities for urban agriculture.

On Monday and Tuesday, Will Allen will teach workshops to local students from Longview High School about urban agriculture. Topics will include urban farming, vermiculture composting and intensive gardening. His work with local foods and urban agriculture has inspired communities and organizations across the country and we are thrilled to have him join us in Raleigh on Monday to work with the Longview students!

Kick-Off and Reception Details for Community Garden at Alliance Medical Ministry

  • April 6, 2010 from 6-8pm
  • Will Allen will speak at the kick-off and answer questions for area students and those interested in urban agriculture.
  • Food for the reception will be provided by Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Catering With A Cause.
  • The kick-off and reception is free and open to those who RSVP by emailing or call 919-250-0043

Find out more about Alliance Medical Ministry here.

Sun's take on Will Allen

People are still talking about Will Allen and the lecture he gave Monday night at the Mckimmon Center. Check out our rundown, with links to other blogs and writeups, here. Here's what the Food Shuttle own guru of farms, Sun Butler, had to say about it.

Grandfather Willl Allen, founder of  the urban farming non-profit 'Growing Power' spoke to packed houses in both Goldsboro and Raleigh this Monday.  I refer to him as "grandfather" because his sixteen year history working the last farm in Milwaukee WI city limits, his work with inner city youth and a city wide composting program have established Will as the Grandfather of the urban farming movement.

At 6'5" with arms the size of tree trunks, Mr. Allen cut a Paul Bunyanesque figure walking to the podium.  As he narrated his way through 600 slides of Growing Power projects in 7 US cities and 6 countries it was easy to see how the mythology around this self effacing MacArthur grant winner has grown.  Thanks to his efforts neighborhoods that society has given up on bloomed with food opportunitiy and hope.   Will's favorite strategy is to "flower bomb"; planting beautifully designed gardens in vacant lots in drug infested neghborhoods.  The result - the drug dealers move out.  Even more impressive are Growing Power programs that divert millions of tons of biodegradable waste from urban landfills.  Made into compost that in turn feeds the army of worms that power Will's vermi-composters, the final product is trucked to local neighborhoods to build instant community gardens.

The highlight of the talk were the pictures of the kids and Will's description of the pure joy they experience getting their hands dirty and making things grow.  Will Allen is a susccessful farmer and a businessman.  But he also reminds me of my own grandfather who was once chided by a neighbor that his front lawn would grow more grass if he kept all those kids off of it.  Grandpa just laughed and said " Well sir, I not growing grass, I am growing kids!"

Will Allen @ McKimmon Center

Will Allen spoke to a packed house at the McKimmon Center last night. Thanks to CEFS for bringing him to town and for allowing the Food Shuttle to bring 20-30 kids who work in our community gardens out to hear him and get inspired. Will is the founder of Growing Power in Milwaukee, the national leader in intensive urban agriculture. Will walked us through the myriad ways his organization grows local foods in urban environments.

His talk was exciting for all of us from the Food Shuttle. Our Farms and Gardens Projectwas born to increase access to healthy, nutritious food for urban communitities. Right now, we operate three community gardens and a vegetable production farm. Will helped us see what else is possible.

Here are a few pictures from last night.

Chef Terri and Tonya Sun during the QandA Will Allen onstage

Great Raleigh food blog Eating In Raleigh, NC has a rundown here.

And here's what the Food Shuttle's Katherine Andrew had to say about last night.