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As they raise money and continue their professional development, farmers aren't waiting to help. Supporters recently dropped off boxes of potatoes and apples to Allen. "It feels good" to be able to distribute this food immediately to his Hillcrest neighbors, he said.
"We've had a lot of support," he said. They are also seeking $10,000 through a Go Fund Me online fundraising campaign for the business launch, which includes money for fuel, produce and other goods to sell. They've raised almost $3,000.
"They are such motivated people who are really plugged into their communities," he said. "I think they will be able to make a real lasting difference."
Allen, a Hillcrest Apartments resident, dedicated 2013 to learning more about food New Harden Shoes 2017
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Asheville's new mobile market hosts launch party May 15
Smith noted that the freedom market goes beyond the plate: Their efforts are also focused on food and health education.
Allen graduated from the culinary training Kitchen Ready Program with Green Opportunities and also completed the Foundations business course a series of business planning classes through Mountain BizWorks. He attended Organic Growers School programming.
Olufemi Lewis, center, weighs produce for sale on the first day of the Ujamaa Freedom Market in June. The pop up produce stand across from the Glen Rock Depot building was the precursor to a planned weekly cooperative mobile market this spring that will sell local produce in neighborhoods underserved by fresh local food vendors.(Photo: Citizen Times File Photo)Buy PhotoUjamaa Freedom Market will celebrate its launch as Asheville's new mobile market place with a party May 15. at The Millroom, 66 Asheland Ave. The event will help support the organization's aim toward its mission to feed and nourish the whole community through access to healthy, fresh food.
an elderly neighbor validated Allen's commitment. The woman is a regular volunteer at the Hillcrest Community Garden, and he overheard that she was undergoing knee surgery soon.
Allen was shocked to learn how dependent his city is on outside food sources for survival, and that the city could only feed itself for a few days if a catastrophe cut off these connections.
For a couple months this summer, Lewis and Allen ran a fruit and vegetable stand outside the Glen Rock Depot Mountain Housing Opportunities residential complex.
Calvin Allen and Olufemi Lewis spearhead the project.
The council is a community based coalition in the city and county working to achieve policy improvements that create healthier food environments and improve healthy food access. Lewis is also one of the founders of the Harden Imma Be A Star organization.
quality of life, health and well being of the community."
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Allen and Lewis, who both also attended national cooperative business conferences in Philadelphia and Alabama this year, developed relationships with other farmers and partner organizations, such as Bountiful Cities, through the stand effort.
Performers include DJ Anne Marie on the 1's 2's, Santos, Juan Holiday Big Dave of Out the Gutta Ent.
security and access, as well as building connections with partners local and national.
They bought a bus in November and plan to hit the road in March, just in time for the spring equinox on March 21, Allen said.
"I don't find that acceptable," he said. "I'm from here. My family is here."
Officially founded at the beginning of 2013, the business is a worker owned cooperative mobile market designed to provide fresh local produce, healthy prepared foods and other household necessities in communities throughout Asheville on a weekly basis, focusing particularly on communities experiencing poverty and so called "food deserts."
Admission is $10 at the door.
He filled a bag with her favorite foods and brought it to her home. "It surprised her," he said. "She about cried right there."
"I think they are going to do a great job of really increasing food access to low income communities," said Gordon Smith, a city council member and a founder of the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council.
Allen notes that he "really didn't know much about this until I got into it," he said. But once he got "into it," he also got into a myriad related activities, including taking a lead role at the Hillcrest Community Garden.
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