By Emma Castleberry
Patchwork Urban Farms has a new project under way to provide community access to fresh, healthy produce. Kate Wheeler is the grower and community engagement coordinator at Patchwork Urban Farms, a multi-plot urban farming network that uses residents’ backyards and vacant spaces in the city to grow food for profit. “When I had some extra produce in the field one day, I reached out to some local organizations that provide fresh produce to folks free of charge,” says Wheeler. This laid the framework for her newest project, Feed Asheville West.
A neighborhood food project, Feed Asheville West partners with a number of organizations that provide access to produce free of charge, including Rainbow Community School, 12 Baskets Cafe (a branch of Asheville Poverty Initiative), the YMCA of WNC and the Southside Community Garden. “While most of the partnerships include produce donation, some of them are based solely in shared resources, labor and community building to increase food access in our city,” says Wheeler. Patchwork Urban Farms has dedicated a few thousand feet of growing space to this effort and last year they donated around 1,000 pounds of food to partner organizations. They hope to double that number this year.
Like almost every other supply chain in the world, food access in our community has been deeply impacted by COVID-19. “Getting food to folks who are already experiencing forms of food insecurity is increasingly important during this time,” says Wheeler. “Right now is a time to double down on efforts to get locally sourced produce to all people, not just the ones who don’t have barriers to access. This effort is not based in charity, but in solidarity, relationship building, collaboration and reciprocity.”
Wheeler is currently seeking financial support for this program, through individual donation or otherwise. Visit PatchworkUrbanFarms.com, click Farmer Kate and then Feed Asheville West for a link to donate. You can also follow Wheeler on Instagram @farmer.k8 for updates on this project, and email email@example.com to get involved.