The weekend of September 13, Mint Hill saw heavy rain and wind as Hurricane Florence moved inland from Wrightsville Beach. Many in Mint Hill and surrounding areas saw flooding, lengthy power outages and downed trees. With blue skies and slightly cooler fall weather, it’s hard to believe now that we saw a hurricane come through only one month ago.
But the impact for North Carolina’s farmers reaches well beyond downed limbs and power outages. Flooding causes significant damage to unharvested crops, especially those that grow underground this time of year like peanuts and sweet potatoes. Sitting in water for long period of time can be devastating to both aboveground and underground crops making them completely unharvestable.
The impact of a storm like Florence can be particularly devastating for smaller, local farms. Taxpayer-subsidized federal crop insurance ensures that farmers who buy in will get a certain percentage of their return back, but that isn’t necessarily enough for local and specialty farmers. These farmers often invest more into production in anticipation of a higher market value selling directly to restaurants, consumers and high value grocery stores. The value of these specialty products in the marketplace can be two to three times the price set in insurance policies.
It’s exactly these local, small-batch farmers that The Produce Box works with. Started in 2007 by mom Courtney Tellefson, The Produce Box delivers produce sourced mainly from local and regional farmers to North Carolina resident’s doorsteps every week.
“As an NC produce subscription service, we work with more than 50 farmers in North Carolina’s “produce belt” from the Triangle to the Coast who were affected by the storm — some severely,” says Marketing Director Kristin Harper. “They shared devastating stories of 78 mph winds and 20 inches of rain and the damage it caused on their farms.”
When the Produce Box reached out to members across the state, including more than 1000 members in the Charlotte-Mint Hill-Matthews area, and told the story of these farmers, they were surprised and overwhelmed by the response they received. In just one week, The Produce Box raised over $9000.00 to help their farmers with hurricane recovery.
“This is amazing!” says Harper. “If the local grocery store was damaged, you wouldn’t see customers donating out of their pockets to help it get back up and running. The relationship our members have with our farmers is truly special!”
Members also jumped in to help others across the state displaced by the hurricane donating more than 750 boxed of fresh, local fruits and veggies to hurricane shelters across the state.
To learn more about The Produce Box, visit them online: https://theproducebox.com/.