Sandhills Farm to Table, one of the state’s homegrown Farm to Table Co-operatives, today announced the kick-off of its 10th season growing, packaging and delivering fresh, local produce to residents and businesses in the Sandhills.
Beginning in late April, produce harvested from more than 1,500 acres of supported Sandhills Farm to Table (SF2T) farmland will be sorted and boxed in a brand-new packing facility in Ellerbe, North Carolina, destined for the tables of residents across four counties.
After teams of volunteers and staff pack the produce in iconic white and green cardboard boxes, they will deliver the procured produce to gathering sites for pick up, or – NEW this year – straight to residents’ homes.
As the old adage goes, “An apple a day…” According to recent studies by Tufts University, researchers have found “prescribing” patients fruits and vegetables instead of pills for chronic illnesses would save more than $100 billion in medical costs.
While food as medicine has long been advocated across the healthcare and wellness industries, it wasn’t until last year the 2018 Farm Bill included a $25 million Produce Prescription Program to fund pilot projects that institute healthier foods.
“It seems clear that fruits and vegetables can prevent many cases of chronic diseases,” said Molly Goodman, co-manager for SF2T and Ellerbe native. “In our corner of the world, we are proud to offer our communities resources to eat fresh and better their health.”
Connecting Moore County to a Farm-Fresh Lifestyle
It’s been a mission of Sandhills Farm to Table’s to cultivate healthy relationships between farmers and the greater community. The South is fortunate to have dinner tables with access to ingredients that are sourced from generations-old farms and gardens for nutritious ways to feed ourselves and our families.
The Co-op has benefited many farmers and residents in the greater Sandhills region since forming the alliance in 2009. From long-time SF2T farmer John Blue of Highlanders Farm in Carthage to new farmer Anna Jackson from White Hill Farm in Cameron, SF2T relishes the partnerships it makes.
According to Goodman, the philosophy of Farm to Table has always been to support local farmers by buying their harvest at a fair price and giving consumers fresh produce.
“Customers commit upfront by joining the Co-op so that the farmers know they have a stable market,” Goodman explains. “The mechanics of software, website, billing, marketing, packing and distribution are all carried out by staff and volunteers so that farmers can focus on farming.”
What’s in the Box
SF2T produce is generally picked the day before and, in some cases, the morning of distribution. With a goal of less than two days from area farm to fork, that means a lot of hustle from staff and volunteers. “A lot of time and care is put into the packing process. It’s truly a labor of love,” says Mark Hunsicker, longtime staff member.
Members have the option of choosing between four varieties of boxes and can skip or change weeks at any time. During the box season, subscribers receive an e-newsletter ahead of each delivery with Sandhills farm news, featured recipes, storage tips and information about upcoming events.
The delivery season for subscribers is 30 weeks, starting April 24. From familiar favorites, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, blueberries and peaches to vitamin-packed greens such as Boy Choy, cabbage, lettuces and kale, subscribers can indulge in farm-fresh food that tours the best tastes of the Sandhills.
There are more than 20 gathering sites and workplaces in Moore, Lee, Cumberland, and Richmond Counties where consumers can pick up their subscribed boxes.
Two other aspects of the Co-operative are its online Artisanal Market and its Workplace Wellness program. This year’s upgraded SandhillsFarm2Table.com features a revamped online market offering fresh baked goods, grass-fed beef, pastured poultry and pork, local salsas, cheeses, jams and soaps.
In addition to gathering sites, many workplaces in Moore County subscribe to boxes for their employees as a workplace benefit, allowing local employers to encourage healthier eating habits among employees. SF2T Workplace Wellness participants include Sandhills Pediatrics, Aberdeen Town Hall, FirstHealth of the Carolinas, and Sandhills Community College.
“The public is invited to celebrate with SF2T this month as the group embarks on what promises to be the most celebrated season yet,” said Goodman, who is passionate about sourcing fresh ingredients. “Pre-Season is always a lot of hard work, but also rewarding,” she added. “We’re ready to enjoy the harvest, and reap the reward.”
Photos courtesy of Sandhills Farm to Table.
The group will commemorate its decade of provision at a series of parties in the communities it serves, starting with a gathering at Hugger Mugger Brewery, in downtown Sanford, Saturday, March 30, from 4-8 p.m. For the latest event updates, visit our website and Facebook page. A listing can also be found below.
Hugger Mugger Birthday Party
Sat. March 30th 4-8 p.m.
The event at Hugger Mugger Brewery will feature a variety of activities, including a vendor fair and farmer’s market, child-friendly activities, food trucks serving local dishes, local wines and brews, music and more. 229 Wicker St, Sanford.
Sandhills Farm Tour
Sat. April 6 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Hosted by the NC Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener volunteers, the public is invited to tour working farms in Moore County. This year the tour has expanded into two circuits, each including food vendors and ice cream shops, and several farms will offer child-friendly activities. For more information, visit the event page or call (910) 947-3188.
305 Trackside Anniversary Bash
Sun. April 7 1-4 p.m.
Free and open to the public, the event at 305 Trackside will feature an indoor farmer’s market, food trucks and farmers serving local dishes, children’s activities, music and more. SF2T will also be raffling off subscription discounts, as well as announcing new and exciting changes to this year’s services. Come enjoy the opportunity to meet many of the Co-op farmers and artisans. 305 NW Broad St, Southern Pines.
About Sandhills Farm to Table
Established in 2009, Sandhills Farm to Table (SF2T) provides locally-sourced produce and artisanal wares to the greater Sandhills region of North Carolina. The cornerstone of the Co-op is its subscription services, which link farmers and consumers by offering handcrafted boxes of seasonal fare delivered from farm to fork.
They are invested in our communities, making local food accessible to Sandhills families and helping to secure a living for the next generation of farmers.
For more information about Sandhills Farm to Table, visit www.sandhillsfarm2table.com.