Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Donna Pearson McClish, Common Ground

commonground

If one can’t get the people to the produce, then take the produce to the people. A Wichita family has created a mobile market that delivers healthy produce to senior centers in south central Kansas.

“Common ground.” That term typically refers to shared values. Today, we’ll learn about an initiative where the name applies to people who are literally using their farm ground or garden acreage for a common purpose, to help feed the needy, elderly and others in their communities.

Donna Pearson McClish created this initiative known as Common Ground Producers and Growers Mobile Market. Donna grew up in Wichita where she lives today.

“My dad was a truck farmer,” Donna said. “In 1968, my folks bought a 40-acre farm northeast of town.” Today, the city of Wichita has grown entirely around it. On this acreage, her father raised vegetables and had a community garden.

“My mother rounded up the neighborhood children and would teach them canning and sewing,” Donna said. She also raised 12 children, of whom Donna is the oldest. Today, Pearson Farms continues to raise produce for the community.

“One summer my brother came to me and said we had extra produce that year,” Donna said. “`What should we do with it?’ he asked. I said, ‘Well, we could start a farmer’s market,’” Donna said.

The Pearsons contacted the K-State Research and Extension Sedgwick County Extension Office to get advice about opening a farmer’s market. They met with Bev Dunning, the county extension director at the time. “It turned out that she had worked with my mother on our front porch, teaching canning and sewing many years ago,” Donna said.

Shortly after that, Donna was on her way to a church meeting when her phone started buzzing. “You need to get a newspaper,” she was told. When she stopped for a paper, she saw the lead article was about Bev Dunning retiring from extension – but that wasn’t what caught her eye.

“The first sentence of the article said that Donna Pearson McClish wants to start a farmer’s market, according to Bev,” Donna said. “Oh my, we thought we were just exploring alternatives.” But that public comment gave Donna and her family the nudge they needed to proceed with plans for their farmer’s market which began on their farm.

The farmer’s market was visited by Donna’s friend who worked with senior citizens. The friend commented that her clients had received USDA-issued senior market vouchers which are only good at farmer’s markets, but had no transportation to get there. “Could you bring the produce to our senior center?” she asked. Donna consented and the mobile market was born.

It turned out that a committee of senior health center staff had been working for two years on a solution to the unused senior market vouchers. Donna set out to gather produce and bring it to the senior centers.

“In 2014 we started with 11 senior centers where we delivered produce,” Donna said.  “Now it has grown to 33, and we visit most centers two times each month.” Many of these are low-income, senior citizen high rises. These include multiple centers in Wichita, as well as more rural locations such as Haysville, Newton, Hesston, Andover, and the town of Clearwater, population 2,431 people. Now, that’s rural.

This initiative is called Common Ground Producers and Growers Mobile Market. “We work with a network of growers within a hundred miles, so the food is local,” Donna said.  To the extent possible, no herbicides or pesticides are used. Her grandson helped with deliveries and now trains other youth to assist. They distribute fruits and vegetables such as beets, greens, corn, watermelon, cantaloupe, okra, tomatoes, and more.

It’s a win-win situation. Senior citizens get local, healthy produce and growers have an additional outlet for their production. “It’s a lot of fun and a lot of work,” Donna said. “We want to expand and we are always looking for more growers.” Donna is also active in the Kansas Black Farmers Association.

For more information, go to www.facebook.com/commongroundpg.

Common ground. In this case, growers are using their ground to produce healthy food for the common benefit. We commend Donna Pearson McClish and all those involved with Common Ground Mobile Market for making a difference with this initiative. The results are uncommonly good.

Audio and text files of Kansas Profiles are available at http://www.kansasprofile.com. For more information about the Huck Boyd Institute, interested persons can visit http://www.huckboydinstitute.org.

—————-

The mission of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development is to enhance rural development by helping rural people help themselves. The Kansas Profile radio series and columns are produced with assistance from the K-State Research and Extension Department of Communications News Media Services unit. A photo of Ron Wilson is available at  http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/news/sty/RonWilson.htm.

Source: Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Donna Pearson McClish, Common Ground

Community Supported Agriculture | Alternative Farming Systems Information Center| NAL | USDA

Contents

Introduction

Community Supported Agriculture consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. 

In a traditional CSA model…

  • Members share the risks and benefits of food production with the farmer.
  • Members buy a share of the farm’s production before each growing season.
  • In return, they receive regular distributions of the farm’s bounty throughout the season.
  • The farmer receives advance working capital, gains financial security, earns better crop prices, and benefits from the direct marketing plan.

“Current business models for CSAs are diverse and innovative. Producers have adapted the CSA model to fit a variety of emerging direct marketing opportunities, including:

  • Institutional health and wellness programs;
  • Multi-farm systems to increase scale and scope;
  • Season extension technologies; and
  • Incorporating value-added products, offering flexible shares, and flexible electronic purchasing and other e-commerce marketing tools.”

T. Woods, M. Ernst, and D. Tropp. Community Supported Agriculture – New Models for Changing Markets. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service, April 2017. Web: https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/CSANewModelsforChangingMarketsb.pdf

Find Local Food and CSAs Near You

Search State and regional farm directories

[Back to Top]

What is Community Supported Agriculture

Marketing through Community Supported Agriculture

History

Surveys and Statistics

[Back to Top]

Where to Find More Information

[Back to Top]

Search AGRICOLA, the National Agricultural Library (NAL) Catalog.
AGRICOLA (AGRICultural Online Access) is a bibliographic database of citations to the agricultural literature created by the National Agricultural Library (NAL) and its cooperators. Records describe publications and resources encompassing all aspects of agriculture and allied disciplines. [Learn more about AGRICOLA.]

  1. Search AGRICOLA using Open AGRICOLA: 
    • Find books, articles, electronic documents and other formats
    • Example search terms / phrases: (“community supported agriculture”) OR (“community supported farm?”) OR (“CSA farm?”) OR (“subscription farm?”) OR (teikei)
  2. Subject browse in AGRICOLA:
    • Articles: Subject Search Then, select the Subject tab. Enter: “community supported agriculture” and select “hit the Enter key.
    • Books: Subject Search. Then, select the Subject tab. Enter: “community supported agriculture” and hit the Enter key.

Review Community Supported Agriculture – Automated Database Searches to search additional resources.

Additional Information for Farmers

[Back to Top]

Eating Seasonally and Regionally

[Back to Top]

Community Food Systems: Farm-to-School, Food Circles, and Farmers’ Markets

[Back to Top]

The Sustainable/Organic Agriculture Connection

Information from USDA
The U.S. Department of Agriculture supports three major programs that offer sustainable agriculture information and assistance. Whether you are a farmer, an educator or a researcher seeking more information about sustainable agriculture in general, about a specific crop, or help with a specific problem, these programs can help. Contact information for each program and a description of each program’s area of specialization are provided below.

[Back to Top]


Archived AFSIC resources on Community Supported Agriculture include:

Compiled by:

AFSIC staff
The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center
National Agricultural Library
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Ask a Question
Reviewed September 2018

Source: Community Supported Agriculture | Alternative Farming Systems Information Center| NAL | USDA