Bees Move in at Hoke Street!

The bees have moved in to 500 Hoke Street!  Thanks to Berry Hines of Bee Blessed Pure Honey for donating a hive to the IFFS Hoke Street Training Center, where our Urban Ag interns have built raised beds to grow everything from herbs to watermelons.

“Now we have bees on one corner and worms on the other corner,” commented Urban Ag Educator Maurice Small, referring to a section of the property where composting with worms, known as vermicomposting, is creating rich soil for use in the raised beds.

Bees and Urban Ag InternsSmall explained that adding the hive in the neighborhood will make the plants healthier by providing the pollination needed to make plants thrive. The bees thrive, too, being around healthy, organically grown produce.  With tender loving care by the Urban Ag interns, the hive will expand and split off to spread their bee magic to other parts of the neighborhood.

Hines, a local beekeeper, runs a small family-owned operation (  that produces pure, unprocessed and unfiltered honey.

“I teach people about bees to reconnect them to nature. Kids in this neighborhood are in a food desert and I want to help them understand how food is grown.”

We agree, Berry!  Our Urban Ag Program is designed to chip away at the root causes of hunger: lack of access to fresh, nutritious food and a lack income to purchase it. Inter-Faith food Shuttle hires community members as interns to learn how to grow food for themselves and their families.  In fact, two of our interns who live nearby are now selling their home-grown produce every Saturday at a Food Shuttle Farm Stand. The stand is open Saturdays, 9a-1p, through October  in the parking lot of Mount Peace Baptist Church at the corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and Raleigh Road in Southeast Raleigh.

Want to help keep good things growing at the Hoke Street Training Center?  Small says his Urban Ag crew is looking for a donation of 2000 tulip bulbs to bring some spectacular color to the neighborhood.  They also need 5 gallon containers with handles and lids to hold compost, and a garden dolly.   Contact if you’d like to help!

IFFS Spring Fling Farm Festival

Last week, we held our Spring Planting celebration, announcing a $700K USDA grant to fund our Young Farmer Training Program. What else has been happening on the IFFS farm this Spring? Plenty!  Sunday, April 1st, was the IFFS Spring Fling: A Farm Festival for the Whole Family, and the beautiful weather made the day perfect for celebrating springtime, indeed! There were lots of kids’ activities! Kids could decorate a clay pot in which to grow their own garden and take the plant home with them. There was also natural egg dying, an egg hunt, face-painting, games (like pin the tail on the rooster), and more!


We were very excited to enjoy a demo and lesson from Arthur Gordon, Chef Emeritus and Owner of the Irregardless Café in Raleigh, which focuses on fresh, seasonal meals! The vegan wild tofu reubens he made were delicious - what a great way to use fresh cabbage from the garden!

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For dessert, we had Vanilla Ice Cream from NC State University – made right on their campus with fresh milk and cream from their cows!


Kids and adults alike enjoyed the farm tour led by Young Farmer Training Program Apprectice Hunter and IFFS Farm Educator Sun Butler! Participants got to know the IFFS chickens, goats, bees, vermicomposting worms, and baby chicks!

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Along the way, those on the tour even got to witness a very special event – a bee swarm! Farm Educator Sun Butler was explaining the apiculture (bee-keeping) operations on the farm, when a great buzzing was heard, and the swarm emerged from the hive! This happens when the queen bee leaves the nest with a large group of drones to mate and form a new colony.

A Food Matters demonstration showing some easy, farm healthy recipes to make with veggies and herbs from the garden piqued our taste buds for warmer weather foods! Ginger, IFFS Nutrition Health Fair Intern, demonstrated how to make a classic tabouli salad, a black bean salsa, and a Greek-style cucumber and yogurt dip with dill. Yum!


The day of festivities also included a composting demonstration! Participants dissected the compost pile, observed the pile "cooking itself" at 150 degrees, and visited with the composting worms in our new wormhouse. Participants also learned how soil biology makes nutrients available to the plants when organic matter is added to the soil in the form of compost or cover crops.

photo by Amin Davis

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