beginning farmers

Guest Blog: Growing Community

Guest Blog: Growing Community

Katie Murray is the Raleigh Urban Ag Programs Manager and has been the visionary behind the Camden Street Learning Garden since its inception in June of 2014.  The Camden Street Learning Garden recently celebrated its first annual Growing Community Fall Festival on November 19th. 

Hot Off The Press: IFFS 2014 Growing Report

Our 2014 Growing Report infographic illustrates the true difference made by our volunteers, donors, staff, and partners in the fight against hunger.

IFFS's CRAFT: Bringing Farmers Together to Learn and Grow

Beginning and seasoned farmers, backyard gardeners, and simply the "farm-curious" came from all parts of the Piedmont to learn about the latest techniques and innovations in sustainable farming, as Inter-Faith Food Shuttle kicked-off the first growing season of the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) United Piedmont. The collaborative is an international model of regionally-organized farmer training rooted in the belief that farmers learn best from each other. Through CRAFT United Piedmont, inspiring leaders in our local farming community will host educational tours on their farms once a month from June to November. Each tour will focus on a special topic and will be followed by a community potluck. The Kick-off Farm Tour and Potluck  was hosted on Sunday,  June 2nd, by Joanna and Bill Lelekacs at Dancing Pines Farm in Efland and focused on Growing Summer Produce in Hoop Houses. Attending this inaugural event were over 30 beginning farmers as well as established farmers, farm interns, folks interesting in starting their own farms, backyard gardeners, farm-curious folks, and some just interested in learning more about local farms. They came to Efland from around the region – including Sanford, Louisburg, Durham, Raleigh, Pittsboro, Silk Hope, and Hillsborough.

Bill Lelekacs led a tour of the farm’s two hoop houses. These inexpensive, unheated (passive-solar) greenhouses are often used to extend the growing season, meaning that farmers can start producing earlier as well as keep on growing longer than they could without the hoop house’s protection. The Lelekacs grow produce year round inside these structures– including lettuce in December, so they can sell at farmers markets and to restaurants year-round. Hoop houses are also useful during the summer because they allow farmers to protect crops from rain and use only drip irrigation instead. Keeping the leaves dry on growing plants can help to control many pests and diseases associated with our warm, wet summers.

 Bill showed the group how the sides can be rolled up or down to allow ventilation or to keep the heat inside.


Dancing Pines tomatoes CRAFT

Joanna Lelekacs led a tour around the rest of their almost two-acre, chemical-free farm, explaining their focus on pollinators and giving participants a look at their fencing systems, pond for watering, small orchards, organic pest-prevention techniques, and the development of their post-harvest shed. Along the way, attendees asked questions and shared ideas about future projects, past experiences, trouble-shooting, and their favorite tools.


The event wrapped up with continued conversation over a wonderful potluck meal – full of what else but lots of farm-fresh veggies!

The event wrapped up with continued conversation over a wonderful potluck meal – full of what else but lots of farm-fresh veggies!

CRAFT United Piedmont is supported by Inter-Faith Food Shuttle through a USDA NIFA Beginning Farmer’s and Rancher’s Development Program grant. It's all part of strengthening the local food system to make sure everyone has access to good food and the income to be able to purchase it. Stay tuned for more CRAFT events each month this summer and fall at local farms!

Enthused by Enthusiasm: NCSU Soil Management Students Partner with Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Farms and Gardens

This semester, students from Dr. Julie Grossman’s Service Learning for Sustainable Soil Management class (SSC 428) at North Carolina State University (NCSU) have been working with a couple of Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s farms and gardens programs teaching youth about soil science. Students Alyssa Degreenia, Will Hildreth, and John Galloway worked with the IFFS Youth Farmer Training Program (YFTP) apprentices, teaching them about soil carbon. Above, they watch proudly during the YFTP graduation ceremony on the farm.


The NCSU students combined both lecture and hands-on teaching methods to convey their knowledge to the youth involved, but found that it was their enthusiasm and passion for the topics at hand that inspired and motivated the youth the most.

This project not only benefitted the youth by building  their knowledge about composting, vermicomposting, carbon cycles, soil organisms, and potential careers in agriculture, but also allowed the NCSU students to learn how to share their own knowledge and enthusiasm and hone their leadership skills. By figuring out how to effectively transmit what they know to others,  they were able to hone in on their own passions as well.

Part of Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s mantra is “Give a man a fish. Teach a man to fish. Stock the pond for all.”  We believe in the power of education  in so many ways, including teaching folks how to grow their own food, building self-sufficiency with  information and resources , and providing learning opportunities that spread this transformative knowledge throughout the community. This partnership with Dr. Grossman’s class at NCSU is a vital part of this community of knowledge sharing. It is only by working together that we can truly create a hunger-free community and transform the local food economy into a more healthy, just, sustainable, and secure food system that feeds everyone healthy, nutritious food.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Awards $700,000 Grant to Inter-Faith Food Shuttle to Fund Young Farmer Training Program

In a time when local farmers are aging out— even as demand for locally grown food is increasing— the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is growing the next generation of North Carolina farmers. USDA representative Ron Brown announced the award of a $700,000 grant to fund Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s 2-year old Young Farmers Training Program.