Shalom Farms, an initiative of United Methodist Urban Ministries, is a nonprofit community farm project with the overarching goal of increasing food security in the Richmond region, particularly in low-income urban neighborhoods.
Shalom Farms increases food security by:
1) Providing fresh and healthy produce to underserved communities.
2) Providing educational training to children and adults on growing food, nutrition, and food-based entrepreneurship.
3) Linking community groups to a wide range of food security resources and partners.
The 6-acre farm is located at Westview on the James, a camp in Goochland County owned by the United Methodist Church. Farm duties are almost entirely run by a diverse group of volunteers comprised of United Methodist and other congregations, Richmond Public Schools students, individuals from community groups in the greater Richmond metropolitan area, and many others.
In 2011, with the help over 1200 volunteers the farm grew more than 32,000 lbs of sustainable produce using organic methods.The produce is harvested and distributed to cooking classes, after school programs, and feeding organizations such as FeedMore. While indeed supplying fresh farm produce to families who would not otherwise have it, Shalom Farms also desires to educate our partner communities on healthy food—its production, preparation, preservation, nutritional value, and entrepreneurial possibilities. This education initiative takes many shapes. One such project is a partnership with Blue Sky Fund and Richmond Public Schools, where every third grader from eight urban elementary schools visit the farm each year for a hands-on learning experiences highlighting soil SOLs.
Shalom Farms maintains an integral community development function in order to connect residents in target neighborhoods with valuable relational resources moving them toward self-sufficiency. For example, Shalom Farms has begun youth-run farm stands at Reid Elementary School and Fulton’s Neighborhood Resource Center, selling the produce below market-cost in order to gauge both the community’s interest and commitment to invest in healthy produce. In addition to providing direct access to fresh fruits and vegetables in these food deserts, the project serves as a food-based entrepreneurship program for the participant youth. The youth who run the stands develop both economic and customer relations skills while learning about food systems, agriculture, nutrition, and entrepreneurship and reinforcing classroom math and communication standards of learning.
Shalom Farms is run by Dominic Barrett and Steve Miles. They are always looking for volunteers and take groups and individuals Monday – Saturday of all ages and abilities. They are currently seeking financial contributions and support to build a pole barn that will among other things improve their outdoor educational opportunities at the farm.
Categories: July, Partners, Summer