Out of the Garden Project began as a family project to help solve food insecurity for six to ten families at Morehead Elementary School fourteen years ago. Now each month, more than 800 volunteers collect food, sort it in the warehouse, create packages for families, and deliver packages to schools and other locations.
Additionally, more than 3,000 families in the Piedmont-Triad are served each month through the organization’s Fresh Mobile Markets – free mobile food pantries that distribute about 65 pounds of fresh produce, bread, meat, and shelf-stable items to families in more than 25 locations in Guilford and neighboring counties. The markets are for families with children 0-18 years of age who must qualify to receive the food.
“It’s literally like a grocery store on wheels,” said Executive Director and President Don Milholin. “We want to help the whole person, the whole family. It’s a chance for people to have dignity in having food they can take home and gather around their table.”
In addition to the Fresh Mobile Markets and a 17,500-foot warehouse at The Church on 68, Out of the Garden has created a shared-use kitchen so food entrepreneurs can make low-risk packaged food to sell and an urban teaching farm. Originally located in downtown Greensboro, the farm has moved to McCleansville, where more crop acreage is available. A USDA grant for innovation will allow the organization to increase its harvest, which will be sold to create more funding for the organization and its projects.
Out of the Garden partners with Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready) in several ways, but the most recent is participation in our Continuous Quality Improvement process.
“We’re excited about the CQI process and just getting started in the work,” said Beth Crise, director of development and operations, “We’re thinking about how we can put policies and procedures in place at the urban teaching farm to improve communication and become more and more successful. We can also streamline volunteer operations in our warehouse to rotate food in and out more efficiently to better serve families.”
“We believe we’re the most influential food partnership in the Piedmont and the largest non-governmental agency not affiliated directly with Feeding America in the area,” Milholin said. “Our mission isn’t just to give out food. Our mission is to provide stepping stones out of poverty.”
Out of the Garden will soon open a store at The Market Shoppes on Sandy Ridge Road to sell produce grown at the urban teaching farm. “We’re growing cabbage collards, raising chickens to sell eggs, and planting strawberries for next spring,” Milholin said. “We’re focused on creating a community where no one goes hungry.”