Former CCCC student becomes executive director of Farmer Foodshare
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Gini Bell, who holds a certificate of Sustainable Agriculture from Central Carolina Community College, ... (more)
PITTSBORO - When Gini Bell registered for a Sustainable Energy Biofuels class at Central Carolina Community College in 2008, working with food was the farthest thing from her mind. But, over time, the facts she learned about the shortage of fresh food in the community and a semester on the college's sustainable farm doing crop production made her want to become a part of the solution.
In 2014, Bell was named executive director of Farmer Foodshare, an organization that serves fresh local produce to over 20,000 people a year.
"I really got the farming bug at CCCC," said Bell, who had already earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina. "It was a different world to me. I knew I did not belong behind a desk. I wanted to make some kind of difference in the world. I love to eat, and the idea of making fresh food available to people regardless of their ability to pay really appealed to me."
Founded in 2009 by farmers and shoppers at the Carrboro Farmers Market, Farmer Foodshare's mission is to fill the gaps in the local food system.
The Farmer Foodshare program connects the bounty of local farmers with those who need food the most. The organization also provides a way for communities to build systems to strengthen rural community economic development and creates connections between farmers and those who serve people at risk for hunger, including after-school programs, low-income senior centers, mental health care facilities, community shelters, and others.
These missions are accomplished in several ways.
First, the organization employs a simple farmers' market based approach that takes food donations from market shoppers and farmers and connects them to a local hunger relief agency. These food distribution points can be found at markets around the state.
Second, it purchases food from small family farms looking for new markets, and sells to non-profit groups serving low-wealth communities.
Third, an educational program called "Food Ambassadors" was formed to provide knowledge about the importance of eating and enjoying fresh food through outreach and educational resources.
As executive director of Farmer Foodshare, Bell does everything from overseeing program staff, accounting and finance, and fundraising, to representing the organization in the community.
"Our mission is socially just and economically sustainable," Bell said. "We just want to get more people eating fresh food and working to produce it in a way that not only benefits individuals, but the local farmer as well."
Bell is a Chapel Hill native with a background in education, local food retail, business management, and sustainable farming. She joined Farmer Foodshare as operations manager in January 2013.
As executive director, Bell works with Farmer Foodshare's board, staff and volunteers and farmer network to continue to create systems and programs to connect people who grow food with people who need food across the state of North Carolina. She holds a degree in Spanish and Linguistics from UNC-Chapel Hill and a certificate of Sustainable Agriculture from CCCC.
For more information about the Sustainable Agriculture program at CCCC, contact Robin Kohanowich at 919-545-8031 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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