New Program For Sustainable Produce Helps Local Farmers And Economy

- NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR- A group of people are ditching grocery stores and getting locally grown produce delivered right to them. Heifer International launched FoodShed Farms-CSA... a pilot program serving 150 families who pay $450 dollars per season to get a box of produce weekly.

"I love it. It's like Christmas every week," says Jan Pownall, FoodShed Farms Program Recipient.

Like a lot of people, Jan Pownall looks forward to every Friday. Not just because it's the weekend, but it's the day she gets her box of locally grown sustainable produce.

"For one thing, I'm not wasting food. I'm not eating a bunch of processed food," she says.

Jan is one of 150 families getting vegetables, fruit and soon chickens. Heifer International picks produce from farms in the delta and at St. Joseph's Center in North Little Rock.

"It's so valuable because we have farmers who are receiving consistent income for it and it's a way to really support them and a way to have a better connection to your food and where it's coming from," says Lesley Waterson, Project Coordinator.

Families get a variety of vegetables and fruits depending on the season. This week's delivery is packed with okra, cantaloupe, eggplant, tomatoes and pepper.

"Arkansas is an agriculture state. So it's a pretty big statement to be growing things that are not soybeans and corn. We really want to diversify what we can do in agriculture," says Waterson.

Project Coordinator Lesley Waterson is hopeful the local economy can benefit from this and save cash.

"They're spending a lot of money that's not necessary, from shipping from Mexico or shipping from South America. And it's not necessarily sustainably produced," says Waterson.

For Jan, knowing local sustainable fruit and veggies are ending up on her plate, makes her proud to contribute to her Arkansas community, "Very good for the economy and the environment. By growing locally we don't have the trucks going everywhere."

Organizers eventually want to sell to restaurants, hospitals and get institutions involved. You can visit their website at

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