CONCORD – The Share the Harvest Community Farm is now officially open in Concord with the aim to provide healthy fresh food for the hungry in Cabarrus County.
“We’re reminded that we were created from the soil and we return to the soil. The soil is living. This gives us a chance to get produce from the soil to help people who need it the most,” McGill Baptist Church Pastor Dr. Steve Ayers.
The farm is located on McGill property between the church and McGill Child Development Center and Afton Village off Poplar Tent Road and George Liles Parkway. McGill leased the land to the farm for a nominal fee of $5 per year.
“Not long ago, the Cannon Y board formed a Community Development Committee as a deliberate way to further our role as an impactful local partner,” said Ron Davis, CEO of the Cannon YMCA. “We looked to local need assessments and immediately saw a theme and an opportunity. Our passion is to see the Cabarrus community thrive through volunteerism, healthy living and associated educational opportunities. The more we investigated, the more we appreciated the community farm concept.”
Officials broke ground Thursday with shovels, rakes and hoes. The field was plowed earlier in the week and the first crops are expected to be planted in the spring.
The aim is to provide fresh healthy produce for those in need, said Dr. Robert Kirk, who led the ceremony. Cabarrus County has four food deserts, where people don’t have a source of healthy affordable food.
“I was just in a store and you can get three bags of Frito-Lay’s for the same thing it costs for a banana,” Kirk said.
The partnership includes the Cannon YMCA, McGill Baptist Church, the City of Kannapolis, Peachtree Market, Concord First Assembly, Cooperative Christian Ministry, the Cabarrus Health Alliance, Carolinas HealthCare System and others.
“We didn’t want to re-invent any wheels, so we went out into the community and talked to people who were already doing it well. We shared this vision with them and so we all said ‘let’s do this and be successful,’” said Aaron Newton, farm manager and an expert in sustainable farming.
Ayers, who is chair of the Y’s community development committee, said McGill already a smaller successful community garden that was producing a few thousand pounds of food for the CCM.
“It seemed to me that we could make it a lot more and it could be more of a community effort and get more people in the community involved and help more people,” Ayers said. “…I think it was providential that I was the chairman of the community when the idea come up.”
The goal for the farm is to grow 20,000 pounds of food per acre annually. The site is two acres and the farm will use about 1.5 acres to start and expand to the full site. McGill already has a well that will be used for the farm. The City of Kannapolis provided a grant to help with equipment and other start-up expenses.
Share the Harvest needs financial contributions and volunteers to work on the farm.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do to turn sun, soil and water into produce and that’s where we need folks to step in and volunteer,” Newton said.
To volunteer contact Newton or contact the YMCA.
Contact Mark Plemmons at 704-789-9140.