Imagine a city with zero food waste. A city in which leftover food is turned into compost and is then continually used as soil to produce new crops.
This concept is called a “circular economy,” and the local nonprofit Carolina Farm Trust has recently acquired an 11-acre farm in Union County to begin what will be a 10 year journey of changing the way the community interacts with the lifecycle of food.
“We are creating this farm to strengthen our community — to create a cycle in which people in our area can both give to and receive from the farm,” said Zack Wyatt, founder and executive director of the Carolina Farm Trust.
Nebedaye, Serendipity and Crown Town will be working in tandem to replicate a circular economy. Compost created from Crown Town food waste donations will be used as soil to grow fruits and vegetables for Nebedaye Farms, as well as flowers for the Serendipity U-pick flower patch and petal cart.
Crown Town Compost
Crown Town Compost’s mission is to change the cycle of food waste in the Queen City. Major companies like the Omni Hotel and local favorites like Not Just Coffee are actively working with Crown Town to keep food waste out of Charlotte landfills.
Instead of paying to dispose of food waste in a landfill, Crown Town urges community members to bring their waste to the farm and use it to create nutrient rich soil for farming and gardening.
“We hope to replenish the soil at the farm, educate students and community groups, and grow the public’s awareness of the problems food waste created and the solutions available to them, including composting,” David Valder said.
“There are many benefits to a circular economy, including creation of jobs and expanding the green industries, reducing our dependence on imported goods and less pollution,” Wyatt said.
Carolina Farm Trust hopes that the community will engage with the farm by volunteering, contributing food waste and shopping the farm stands.
“Getting the community involved here is key,” Wyatt said. “If we can do that, this farm can really contribute to creating a sustainable food system in the Charlotte area.”
Founded by Bernard Singleton and his family in 2014, Nebedaye Farms began as just two garden beds in uptown. From there, he quickly expanded, thanks in part to his focus on the African superfood, moringa, a nutritional powerhouse in the plant kingdom.
Nebedaye is centered on the principles of community, environment, education, health and economics. “Our agrihood model intends to create and represent a sustainable and healthy community through food and land,” Singleton said.
In addition to growing its staple crop, moringa, Nebedaye will provide fresh fruits and veggies, and plans to teach food sovereignty, economic empowerment, health and wellness classes.
Providing locally grown, sustainable flowers to Charlotte, Serendipity was founded by Eric and Amanda Theys in April 2019. Their mission is to promote hometown horticulture and the benefits of purchasing local, slow-grown flowers instead of imported blooms.
“First and foremost, we want to provide access to healthy, affordable, fresh produce and flowers,” Theys said. “We would like the farm to become a community gathering space where you can not only purchase your fresh food for the week but also get your hands dirty and get involved if you’d like.”
For the Theys, moving to the 11-acre farm means more exposure and eventually the opportunity to grow more blooms and eventually provide farmers markets, wedding venues and florists with locally sourced flowers.