Soul Food Project and farm has been operating since 2017 on the Northeast side of Indianapolis, Indiana. The farm uses sustainable practices such as no-till, cover crops, and crop rotation. It grows crops like tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, kale, and Swiss chard to distribute within the community. Danielle Guerin (pictured right) is the Founder, CEO, and Executive Director of Soul Food Project. In 2020, Guerin received a $7,525 Farmer Rancher grant to expand Soul Food Project’s reach by exploring direct sales and marketing.
“The Northeast side of Indianapolis has been a food desert for over 20 years, only just receiving a small grocery store in 2016,” said Guerin. “Many residents still rely on fast food establishments or take the bus to the nearest grocery store, which is a 30-minute trip. While economic viability for my operation is important, I want to be as socially responsible as possible. Therefore, I focus on improving the quality of life for the community I operate in.”
Veggie Box Program Proves Popular
Guerin made plans to pilot both a farmers market stand and a veggie Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share program for ten subscribers. Unfortunately, complications due to COVID-19 meant the farmers market was primarily unavailable for the summer of 2020. But she ran ads for their CSA shares on Facebook and the Nextdoor app, which proved worthwhile. In 2021, Soul Food Project distributed 170 lbs. of vegetables to 11 families through their community veggie box program. For 2022, their goal for their CSA program is 20 subscribers.
"People jumped at the opportunity to be in the CSA program," said Guerin.
Guerin says beginning urban farmers looking to start direct sales should engage with community members and find out what works best in that community. A resource she found helpful as she set up Soul Food Project’s CSA program was Soul Fire Farm’s “Sowing the Seeds of Justice Food Manual,” which
is available on the SARE website at https://northeast.sare.org/resources/sowing-the-seeds-of-justice-food-manual/.
Guerin received a subsequent $4,237 Youth Educator grant to support Soul Food Project’s Youth Grow Indy program, an urban farming experience for youth aged 9-18. Students are exposed to agriculture careers and the local food system while exploring agriculture.
Want more information? See the related SARE grants:
- Near Northeast Community Supported Agriculture Program (FNC20-1220)
- Youth Grow Indy Programming (YENC22-177)