Cooperative puts locally grown foods on area tables

Mar. 25, 2014 @ 04:58 AM

With five years and more than 1,500 members under its belt, the Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative intends to reach out to a new crop of folks interested in local produce.

The cooperative, which begins its delivery of seasonal, local goods in April, is meant to connect local people to local farmers, said co-founder and current produce coordinator Jan Leitschuh.

“Food is our common ground, and that appealed to me at a time when I saw many divisions within our society,” she said.

This cooperative can help people see how a community is interlaced between producers and consumers, she said, adding, “We are all in this together” and “Neighbors feeding neighbors" are the cooperative's two guiding principles.

The cooperative delivers to three different Sanford sites, according to the its website, and Sanford has long been one of the strongest areas in the cooperative, Leitschuh said.

The organization has three main components, said cooperative General Manager Steve Peters, including its popular box subscription program.

Individuals or families can subscribe for produce boxes, which range in size and frequency, that are delivered weekly to various sites around the Sandhills. The spring/summer season runs from April to August.

“I love the fact that it is community owned and has a balanced stakeholders group,” Peters said. “One thing I love is that we are owned 100 percent by members.”

The other two components of the cooperative are its artisanal market, which provides "extras" from the cooperative’s producers people can add to their boxes, and community development.

Gary Priest, chairman of the cooperative’s board of directors and one of the producing farmers, said he's been involved with the organization since its inception.

“I think people are more conscious of where their food is coming from and their carbon imprint,” he said. “And I think people realize if they don't get some young people in as farmers, you won't see any more farmers.”

All of the produce comes from either Moore County or its nine contiguous counties, he said.

Weekly subscription rates start at $22 for a standard box and $40 for a double produce box. More information about the cooperative, specific prices and membership is available online or call (910) 722-1623.