A family crisis turned Robin Emmons into a farmer. In 2008, her brother, who had been homeless, landed in a transitional housing facility where meals often came from a can. Emmons began bringing him vegetables from her garden, and within months, she’d ripped apart her entire yard to grow enough for nearly 30 of his fellow residents. “Seeing how they ate triggered a realization,” she recalls. “Charlotte’s in the midst of this thriving food movement, but there are people who are not at the table, literally and figuratively.”
Five years ago, Emmons persuaded an area farmer, Danny Phillips, to donate five acres – and teach her how to operate a tractor, rotate crops, and do everything else necessary to scale up. A local company soon followed suit, leasing Emmons another five acres for a buck a year. Today, her nonprofit harvests an estimated 35,000 pounds of produce annually, delivering affordable CSA boxes to, and opening pop-up farm stands in, neighborhoods that were once food deserts. Sow Much Good also hosts gardening classes to empower members of underserved communities. “We give the attendees beautiful soil and seedlings for their yards,” Emmons says. “To me, growing your own food is like printing your own money.”*
*Correction: Emmons attributes this quote to her friend, Ron Finley.