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Rooted in Raleigh: How This Small, Urban Farm is Making a Big Community Impact

By Margaux Austin | September 17, 2021 | Community Health, Community Partners, Investments

Rows of vegetables growing in an organic farm

Raleigh City Farm (RCF) sits on 1.3 acres at the corner of Blount and Franklin Street in the Person Street Business District. The farm started in 2011 as a place where anyone can learn about farming. Now, 10 years later, they are growing the next generation of farmers and connecting the Raleigh community to where, and how, food is grown.

RCF believes in the power of urban farms to create healthier communities and reconnect city dwellers with healthy food production. One program that does just that is the Farm to Camp summer series. It connects young campers at The Salvation Army of Wake County (Wake Army) with healthy eating habits.

For the past three summers, youth from Wake Army have been able to learn about sourcing, preparing and eating healthy foods. Their parents also get supporting information to take the learnings back to their own kitchens. During the 6-week Farm to Camp program, students get a tour of the farm and a chance to sample and learn about the plants growing there. They also connect with each other over their favorite foods and learn about the important role that food plays in every community.

The program is led by the North Carolina Executive Mansion Chef, Ryan McGuire, who demonstrates how to source and prepare a series of fresh and healthy meals. Chef Ryan gives hands-on cooking demonstrations and explores careers within the food industry, helping shed light on how these new skills might translate into future opportunities for the campers.

Lisa Grele Barrie, Executive Director of Raleigh City Farm, said these programs also help kids make important connections to their communities.

“Offering these kinds of experiences is an essential part of the Farm’s commitment to sustainable agriculture and encouraging future generations to stay healthy and remain active in the development of their local communities,” she said.

Funding from Blue Cross NC allowed Raleigh City Farm to scale this cooking program focused on healthy eating and food preparation to more youth and their families. This year, the program was able to serve over 180 students and families through Wake Army.

Access to basic needs beyond traditional medical care is the foundation for good health. But not everyone has access to the same resources to meet basic needs. At Blue Cross NC, supporting the Farm to Camp program ties directly to our mission, as the Farm works to provide fresh, healthy food and agricultural education throughout the Triangle. We believe a crucial step toward health equity for all is improving access to healthy food, because a healthy diet is the most commonly reported unmet social need.

To learn more about Blue Cross NC’s commitment to improving food security and COVID-19 community support, click here. For more information about RCF, visit their website.