Growing Hope’s Solidarity Shares Program Improves Fresh Produce Accessibility

If cost is a factor that prevents you from consuming locally-sourced fresh produce, you are not alone. 

Growing Hope, an Ypsilanti-based nonprofit that provides support and nourishment to the community, is making an effort to remove or at least lower that barrier.

In the past, they were mostly selling their produce either at farmers markets or to restaurants, as well as giving directly to other organizations in Ypsilanti.

More recently, they set up a free produce cart in front of their farm where people can come get produce at any time.

However, in 2021 during an intensive organizational strategic planning process they “were thinking critically about the way [they] were using [their] spaces and specifically the purpose of [their] farm and how food is distributed through it,” Executive Director Julius Buzzard said about the behind-the-scenes thought process.

Furthermore, they specifically wanted to better support people who are not are not eligible for nutrition assistance but are still in need of support and people who receive food assistance it is not sufficient to meet their needs. 

Growing Hope’s new Solidarity Shares program

And hence, Solidarity Shares, a fresh produce subscription, was born.

Buzzard hopes this model of selling produce will be adopted by other farmers as well to ensure the farms receive “subsidies outside of the government and more [from] within our community” while best serving those in need.

The program’s inaugural produce distribution is perfectly timed with Growing Hope’s 20th birthday on May 23rd.

The seasonal subscriptions, which provide community members with fresh fruits and vegetables every week throughout the summer for a self-directed sliding scale fee, are currently sold out.

But don’t worry, single orders can still be placed through the General Ypsi Area Online Market starting May 18 for a set cost less than the value of the produce provided.

Online orders open every Thursday prior to the pickups from the Ypsilanti Farmers Marketplace at 16 S. Washington St. on Tuesdays, 4– 7 p.m, through October 10. 

If the produce is still not affordable at the reduced rate, Buzzard encourages community members to reach out and they will be happy to work with you. Don’t forget about the year-round produce wagon full of a variety of free fresh fruits and vegetables every day in front of their urban farm at 922 West Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti.

Celebrate 20 years with Growing Hope

Growing Hope will celebrate its 20th birthday party on May 21st. The party will consist of free food, light desserts and drinks, tours, a bounce house, rock painting, party games and more. 

Buzzard encourages community members to become sustaining members of the Growing Hope Community through their $20 for 20 campaign.

Those in a position to give can help Growing Hope help more community members in need with a $20 recurring monthly donation. Their goal is to gain 100 new monthly supporters. Could you be one of them? 

Recurring donations provide the nonprofit with a base of predictable income, allowing them to better manage their programs and build creative beneficial programs such as Solidarity Shares. 

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