Urban Farm takes root in North Charleston

Urban Farm takes root in North Charleston
August 11 22:36 2016 Print This Article
Germaine Jenkins poses with her spinach

Germaine Jenkins poses with her spinach

In order to better serve the people in the impoverished Chicora-Cherokee neighborhood in North Charleston, Germaine Jenkins set up a non-profit foundation to operate a farm and grocery store there.

Jenkins used $25,000 in seed money from the South Carolina Community Loan Foundation’s Feeding Innovation Challenge to start the Fresh Future Farm and Neighborhood Store at 2008 Success St. Jones Ford donated the modular building used for the grocery store operation.

A Clemson-certified Master Gardener, Jenkins began her love of gardening at her home. She dug up the grass and grew fruits and vegetables using a mulch bed to prepare the soil. Her motivation for starting up the farm and grocery store was the scarcity of grocery stores in the area.

Jenkins says, “We’re working to create value by making fresh produce more accessible to the people in the community.”

She notes that many people in the neighborhood don’t own cars and must pay for a taxi to get to a grocery store.

The Neighborhood Store sells a variety of food products grown on-site, including peppers, onions, carrots, okra, spinach, herbs and berries. Eggs are brought in from Wishbone Heritage Farms in Ridgeville. An on-site chicken coup is slated to start producing in October. The store carries meats and other staples supplied by vendors and accepts cash, credit cards and SNAP EBT cards for payment. The produce prices are mostly lower than those found at full-service groceries.

Jenkins uses organic gardening techniques and plans to use a crop-rotation system known as permaculture. She plans to plant collards, kale and beets in the fall and sell chicken manure to local gardeners. The operation has four employees and College of Charleston interns, as well as community volunteers.

The Neighborhood Store opened on May 3, and Jenkins hopes to expand the business model by becoming a regional training center for urban entrepreneurs, community gardeners and permaculture advocates around the region.

Jenkins is proud of the impact her urban farm and grocery store has had on the neighborhood, saying, “People stop by all the time and tell us how aesthetically pleasing it is.”

Find out more at www.FreshFutureFarm.org.